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Apr 27, 2015
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Working with Emotionally and Behaviorally Challenged Students

The following techniques can be especially effective with students exhibiting emotional and behavioral disorders:

  1. Planned ignoring
    Behaviors that are exhibited for the purpose of seeking attention and do not spread or interfere with safety or group functioning are most effectively extinguished through planned ignoring. This technique should never be used with aggressive behaviors. The class may need to be taught to do this as well. Peer attention can be even more powerful than adult attention for some students.

  2. Signal interference
    If a student is calm enough to respond, has a positive relationship with the teacher, and is free from uncontrollable pathological impulses, a nonverbal signal may be all that is necessary to assist him or her in regaining focus.

  3. Proximity and touch control
    Moving closer to a student in distress or placing a hand on the shoulder can be effective in showing support in a nonthreatening way. When using this technique, refrain from pointing out inappropriate behavior. Comment positively on any move toward compliance.

  4. Interest boosting
    Change the tempo or activity, comment on the student's work, or inquire about a known interest related to the assignment if a student shows signs of restlessness. Do this before off-task behavior occurs.

  5. Hypodermic affection
    Express genuine affection for, or appreciation of, a student to assist the student in regaining self-control.

  6. Easing tension through humor
    Humor can often stop undesirable behavior if it is used in a timely and positive manner. Sarcasm, cynicism, and aggression are not appropriate uses of humor.

  7. Hurdle help
    Before a student begins to act out, assist the student with a difficult section of an assignment or task.

  8. Regrouping
    Change the seating arrangement or the small-group assignments of students to avoid specific problems. Do this in a nonpunitive and, if possible, undetectable way.

  9. Restructuring
    If an activity is not successful, change it as quickly as possible. It is important to always have a backup plan. Sometimes it is best to move from an interactive game to something like Bingo that requires no interaction. This can be done smoothly and nonpunitively when a group is becoming overstimulated. At other times, offering a choice might be more effective. Students could choose to cover information orally through discussion, or copy notes from an overhead, for example.

  10. Direct appeal
    If a student or group has a positive relationship with the teacher, it is sometimes effective just to ask that a behavior stop due to the problems that it is creating. No consequence or reward is intended or implied. This is a simple, straightforward request from one person to another.

  11. Antiseptic bouncing
    Remove a student from a distressing situation before inappropriate behaviors occur. Be careful not to inadvertently reward a student who is instigating a problem.

  12. Support from routine
    Schedules and routines are often overlooked by adults when considering behavior management interventions. Knowing what to do and when to do it provides structure, security, and predictability in the lives of students who may not experience such support in other areas of their lives.

  13. Limiting space and tools
    Rather than taking away items that distract or create potential harm after a student is engaged with them, keep them out of sight and reach from the beginning. This is especially important when tantrums might escalate to unnecessarily dangerous or reinforcing proportions, if too many items are available for throwing and breaking.

Excerpted from Back Off, Cool Down, Try Again: Teaching Students How to Control Aggressive Behavior .

Council for Exceptional Children

Provided in partnership with The Council for Exceptional Children.

Highlights

Children's Choice Book Awards
We love books! Encourage students to vote for their favorite children's book, author, and illustrator of the year at Funbrain and Poptropica. Teens can make their picks too. Read the complete list of nominated books, as well as related activities, and get voting!

Videos
Do your students love videos? We have a growing collection of videos (including related activities) for holidays and events, including: Earth Day, women's history, Memorial Day, Independence Day, slavery & the Civil War, U.S. Presidents, handwashing awareness, the Common Core, and American History. Enjoy!

April Calendar of Events
April is full events that you can incorporate into your standard curriculum. Our Educators' Calendar outlines activities for each event, including: Tell a Story Day (4/27) and International Jazz Day (4/30). Plus, celebrate Mathematics Education Month, National Poetry Month, and Youth Sports Safety Month!

Teaching with Comics: Galactic Hot Dogs
Reach reluctant readers and English-language learners with comics! Our original teaching guides to the Galactic Hot Dogs comic series (chapters 1-4 and 5-8), as found on Funbrain.com, will take students on a cosmic adventure while engaging their creative minds. Plus, find even more activities for teaching with comics, featuring many other classic stories.

Poptropica Teaching Guides
Poptropica is one of the Internet's most popular sites for kids—and now it's available as an app for the iPad! It's not just a place to play games; each of the islands featured on the site provides a learning opportunity. Check out our teaching guides to four of Poptropica's islands: 24 Carrot Island, Time Tangled Island, Mystery Train Island, and Mythology Island.


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