Classroom Tantrums: 6 Prevention Strategies
1. Antiseptic Bouncing
Remove the child from his/her environment temporarily. However, don’t do this as punishment of his/her behaviour, instead you can casually and calmly request the child to help you take something from the other room.
For example: “Do you mind helping me grab my book from the teacher’s lounge?”
This can be an opportunity for the child to calm him/herself down and focus the mind on something else instead of the trigger of tantrum.
2. Distance Control
Often we are unaware that our mere presence can have a big impact on the child. One of the simplest strategies is walk from where you are and stand beside the child.
Our close proximity can have a calming effect on him/her. In the class environment, this strategy can be useful to prevent tantrum while teaching as usual for other children.
3. “Secret signal” and de-stressor
This strategy can be applied in the class, if the child has a habit to throw tantrum while the class is in progress.
The teacher can sit down and discuss with the child about how to communicate his feeling of being uncomfortable or angry. The teacher and child can agree on “secret signal” to communicate those feelings. For example: “3 taps on the table”, or other specific signals using fingers (sign language).
The teacher will also have his/her own “secret signal” back to the child, to communicate his/her awareness of the situation.
The important part is that other strategies need to be incorporated for this one to work after signals are exchanged. For example: you can use antiseptic bouncing (Strategy 1), or give him/her stress relief using de-stressor (example: stress ball).
4. Support from visual routines
Having a visually interactive schedule may help in any environment. A lot of children feels bored and this may worsen his/her uncertainty feeling of when the activity will end.
When the rumbling happens, bring them to the schedule and point to what’s next, and when he/she is going to do something he/she likes (breaks, play, drawing, etc).
5. Walking and no talking
This strategy is a bit different from antiseptic bouncing mentioned earlier where the child is given a chance to go to other room for a purpose.
In this walking and no talking strategy, we come with him/her to walk and give him/her a chance to talk about anything without intervention. We won’t give any response, because intervening will most likely result in opposition and escalation of anger.
Show a calm demeanor, and give as little reaction as possible. Don’t interrupt him/her, and be careful not to smile/reinforce negative thoughts.
6. Home base
Home-base is a place/room at home/school for someone to de-escalate stress. This place should have less visual aids/pictures, and limited activities. This place should be a positive place and not a punishment/time out.
Home-base should have a calming environment. But it is important that the child has to continue his/her previous activity after calming down in home-based, not to reinforce a habit to avoid such activity.
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