Saturday, January 21, 2012

Preventing Disruptive Behavior: Tips for Classroom Management

1)    Adopt a middle ground. Be firm in enforcing rules, but do it in a way that you balance it with warmth, praise, understanding, fairness, responsiveness, and acceptance of the troubled student’s needs.

2)    Increase your tolerance for angry feelings and acting-out behaviors by identifying positive attributes in the feelings or behavior; for example, independence, leadership qualities, or strong character.

3)    Change your teaching style from stationary to circulating so that you can walk by the troubled, anger-prone, or acting-out student every five-to-six minutes.

4)    Use proximity control, such as walking towards the student, putting one hand on the child’s shoulder or desk, and/or  (without saying a word) removing any object that is distracting the child.

5)    Model calmness, gentleness, and respect. Address children using “Thank you,” “I’m sorry,” or “I apologize.” Teachers should never be afraid of saying to children that we are sorry, or acknowledging the fact that we make mistakes too. Students respect us more when they perceive we are fair.

6)    According to Goldstein, Harootunian, and Conoley (as found in Slap-Shelton, 1994) teachers’ characteristics that lead to sound decision making when dealing with disruptive students include the following:

a)     Remaining calm in the face of a crisis

b)    Listening actively without becoming defensive and/or authoritarian

c)     Avoiding win-lose situations

d)    Maintaining a problem solving approach

7)    Increase your awareness of how your own behavior and particular ways of handling conflict influence your students’ behaviors. Write your reflections in a journal, so that you can see how effective your interventions are, as well as detect any areas where you need to improve. Look for patterns of interacting and behaving in both your students and yourself. Periodically review your progress, assessing how it is going, and making modifications as needed.


 Slap-Shelton, L., ed. (1994). Coping with aggressive children in the classroom. Child Therapy Today, Vol. 1, pp 193-194.

Related Articles

Classroom Management of Disruptive Behavior: 18 Psycho-Educational Principles. To read this article, click here.

Classroom Management: 23 Psycho-Educational Tips for Correcting and Redirecting Behavior.  To read this article, click here.

Psycho-Educational Principles Therapeutic Teachers Use to Reduce Habitually Disruptive Behaviors in the Classroom. To read this article, click here.

The Psycho-Educational Teacher: Teacher’s Characteristics that Promote Positive Classroom Behavior in Emotionally Troubled and Acting-Out Students. To read this article, click here.

Psycho-Educational Insights for Managing Habitually Disruptive Students:   Contributing Factors to the Escalation of Behavior Problems. To read this article, click here.

Of Interest to Teachers and School Staff...

Watch Your Language! Ways of Talking and Interacting with Students that Crack the Behavior Code
To preview this book on Amazon, click here.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Anger Management for Children- Part Three: Characteristics

Anger-prone students may exhibit some, most, or all of the characteristics listed next.
1. Anger-prone students have habitual anger outbursts that seem out of proportion to the situation.
2. Habitually angry children think negatively most of the time about themselves, other people, or situations.
3. When dealing with difficult events, troubled and anger-prone students display catastrophic thinking, a thinking pattern that assumes that the worst thing that can happen is what is going to happen.
4. Anger can be identity or role-congruent for these children; that is, feeling angry all the time matches their self-image (e.g., “I cannot help myself. That’s the way I am”). Their perception of being an angry individual becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy, validated by frequent outbursts of anger and acting-out behaviors.
5. Troubled and anger-prone students show low frustration tolerance, and they demand that what they want or need is satisfied immediately.
6. Anger-prone students show poor internal control or self-control.
7. One of the most common types of anger in children is the explosive type; this explosive type is characterized by sudden and intense angry feelings coupled with a loss of self-control, for example, a temper tantrum. In the explosive type, a minor annoyance can lead to a major outburst. Noncompliance and oppositional behaviors are common in anger-prone students. Anger-prone students also show a greater display of aggressive behaviors than their regular age-peers.
8. Anger-prone students show inflexible emotional reactions to different kinds of situations, labeling most situations as angry situations, or opportunities to feel angry.
9. Troubled and anger-prone students have a limited vocabulary for expressing their feelings (e.g. joyful, scornful, amazed, or annoyed) which limits their ability to label their emotions accurately and to handle their feelings effectively.
10.Troubled and anger-prone students exhibit what the cognitive literature calls tunnel vision. Their thinking seems impenetrable to environmental cues that can generate alternative explanations to the event, or can generate positive feelings.
11.Children in general have difficulty separating their behavior from their identity. Some children do not understand that you do your behavior, but you are not your behavior. This concept is particularly difficult to grasp for anger-prone and behavioral disordered students.
12.Anger-prone students are sensitive to the perceived criticism from others, interpreting all criticism and feedback as negative. They are easily irritated and offended by criticism. They do not like lectures, or having other people giving them advice or telling them what they should do.
13.They act on impulse rather than thought, failing to engage in a cognitive checking of their thoughts and feelings. Anger-prone and behavioral disordered children have little insight into their difficulties, and they do not make a connection between their temper and their behavior difficulties. They tend to minimize their problems in school.
14.They blame other people or external events for their problems, with little insight in how they contributed in creating the problem. They take little or no responsibility for their own behavior, placing the blame outside themselves (others condemnation).
15.Anger-prone students interpret events according to their own negative belief system. One common belief in these children is that everyone is against them.
16.Troubled, anger-prone, and behavioral disordered children have difficulty interpreting social cues appropriately, because they fail to encode all the relevant environmental cues and information. They interpret most gestures as aggressive, or can interpret a neutral situation as threatening.
17.They distort information, which leads to distorting and misperceiving what happened. In addition, when interpreting the event, they show a restricted perception of reality, focusing only on one part of the event- the part that fits into their belief system.
18.Anger-prone children have difficulty seeing things from someone else’s point of view (perspective taking). For this reason, they do not understand the negative effect of their behavior on others; oppositional-defiant children in particular show a lack of empathy for the feelings of others.
19.They show poor social skills and a deficit in social problem solving, that is, in solving problems that underlie social interactions. An anger-prone and/or emotionally troubled child is deficient in the number of solutions he is able to generate to solve a social problem.
20.Troubled, anger-prone, and behaviorally disordered children seem unaffected by or unresponsive to social consequences. With these children, a rewards system alone (e.g. stickers and prizes) does not work well. Punishment alone (e.g. losing privileges) is also likely to fail.
For more information on the topic of angry students, and to learn techniques and interventions to help children with anger problems, you can read:
1. Understanding the Anger-Prone Student-Part One: Models of Anger. To read this article, click here.
2. Understanding the Anger-Prone Student-Part Two: Triggers. To read this article, click here.
3. Creating Rapport with a Disruptive and Acting-Out Student: Psycho-Educational Interventions for Students with Special Needs. To read this article, click here.
4. Handling Angry Students: Psycho-Educational Strategies that Work. To read this article, click here.
5. Think Positive to Stay Positive: Teaching Children the Benefits of Using Positive Self-Sentences. To read this article, click here.
6. Child Guidance Skills for Teachers: Relaxation Techniques for Angry and Troubled Students. To read this article, click here.
7. Coping Strategies for Students with Anger Problems. To read this article, click here.
8.  Anger Management for Children: Using Self-Talking to Defuse Angry Feelings. To read this article, click here.
9. Behavior Management: Extinguishing Chronic Acting-Out Episodes Using the Tantrum Manipulation Technique. To read this article, click here.
10.The Therapeutic Classroom: Guided Imagery and Visualizations for Students with Anger Problems. To read this article, click here.

Of Interest to Teachers...
Essentials of Emotional Communication for Reaching the Unreachable Student: Where Do I Start? What Do I Say? How Do I Do It?
To preview this book on Amazon, click here.