Helping all children become happy learners
Keep yourself and others safe
The first priority in dealing with any episode of aggressive or dangerous behaviour is to avoid being hurt. This includes taking steps to protect others who could be affected by the violence. Where possible, do this by maintaining a safe distance; ideally with some physical barrier. As a last resort use proportional and reasonable force to keep yourself and others safe.
Give verbal commands to cease any aggressive or otherwise unsafe behaviour
Talk calmly but firmly with simplified language. Avoid negative labelling of them as bad or naughty. Acknowledge their emotional state and describe the desired behaviour e.g. - I need you to stop throwing things now - I can see that you are angry - I need you to be calm now.
time to comply with instructions
During high levels of emotional arousal processing of information can take longer. This is particularly so for instructions asking children to modify their behaviour. It is therefore important to give plenty of time for children to comply with requests. It is best to avoid eye contact once a verbal command has been given. And if it is safe to do so, turn your back towards them so you avoid appearing to wait for their compliance.
Direct them towards a safe place and/or activity to calm themselves
Talk calmly and try to avoid any negative labelling of behaviour. Supportively direct them to a quiet place and not a place of punishment. (Consequences can come later when the situation is calm and controlled.)
E.g. Would you like to go and sit on the reading cushions?
Ignore secondary behaviours
Try to avoid being drawn into arguments or giving them additional attention for negative behaviours. If the original behaviour has ceased then perceive any secondary behaviours as evidence of de-escalation.
Give them the time they need to be calm
Again avoid eye and where possible turn your back towards them. Allow plenty of time for the stress hormones in their bloodstream time to dissipate. Until these are back to normal nothing meaningful can be achieved. If consequences need to be discussed this is best done when they are fully calm and in control.
The purpose of this is to understand what triggered the behaviour. It is not always easy to establish a clear cut cause and effect. For example, many people find it difficult to express their feelings through language. It is also often the case that what appears to be a trigger was in fact just the last event in a series of events that escalated the situation. Avoid labelling negative behaviours until fully investigated.
It is important that appropriate and proportional consequences are given for disruptive and physically aggressive behaviours. Acknowledge their right to feel and express anger. But equally, make it very clear that the consequence is because the way they showed their anger or frustration etc. was not acceptable and broke rules.
De-escalation of meldowns / aggressive behaviour
Printable A4 resource containing the above procedure for dealing with aggressive behaviour and 'meltdowns'.