Last weeks post highlighted the importance of building relationships. Creating an environment focused on positive adult-child relationships will increase the success of distraction techniques and other classroom management or behavior strategies. Now that relationships are established, you can try some of the following distraction, time, and Love and Logic techniques to support your efforts.
- What are you doing? What should you be doing?
- These two questions, asked in an empathetic way, is much better than yelling, “Stop, or else!” It allows for reflection, empowering children to make a better choice, while maintaining a positive relationship built on trust.
- Deflecting Blame away from teacher and place it on the schedule, timer, code of conduct, school expectations, etc.
- I’m sorry the schedule says….
- we need to go to lunch
- it is time for math
- recess is over
- Our school expectations state that we must be…
- Respectful, Responsible, Safe, and Kindness Matters
- The district Code of Conduct states...
- you must wear appropriate attire that is suitable to learning without distractions.
- that consequences must be given for your actions
Consequences given with heightened emotions, will at times, increase the possibility for an insubordinate response from a child. Deflecting Blame is a great way to focus on established classroom and school expectations, while taking emotions out of giving consequences.
- Sensory Redirection is great for children who are physically unable to interact or calm down. The last thing we should do is fire off a bunch of emotional consequences that will result in further insubordination. Try these sensory redirection strategies when a child is unable to calm down:
- Touch your nose, pull on your left ear, take a deep breath, etc.
- Square or diamond breathing - Hold breath for 4 sec. - look up, left, right, down.
- Popsicle - Freeze/squeeze all body muscles tightly then melt/wiggle all muscles.
- Elevator - Squat down allow muscles to tense, shoot body up like an elevator to the top floor and hold on tiptoes. Next, drop to floor like elevator dropping to the 1st floor.
- Blow out your candles - Hold up your age and blow on each extended finger that represents your age (works for children that are 10 and younger).
The goal is to calm a student down and get them back into “The Zone of Learning” so that further interventions can be successful.
- Repetitive Instruction
- When a child does not comply with a simple request, merely repeat the instructions in a calm voice 2-3 times.
- Use a calmer and quieter voice each time you repeat the direction. Be aware of your tone and body language - make sure you are not nagging or sarcastic.
- Make sure you use child’s name when giving direction.
This technique can have a calming effect if delivered with an empathetic and soothing voice while using child’s name during the process.
- Errand Runner with and important message
- If you notice a child needing a break, ask them to go into the hallway, and simply state the following; “I really need you to do me a huge favor. Please go to the office and deliver this envelope to the secretary, office clerk, or principal and stay there until they answer my note. They will give it back to you. When you return we are going to move on to a really important and fun learning activity that you won’t want to miss!” The note is usually a message that just states that the child needed a break. This heightened level of responsibility might be all that is needed for the student to get back on track.
- The office will open the envelope and jot down a little note, back to the teacher, before sending the child back to class, but not before giving a little pep-talk and asking a couple of questions:
- Are you having fun learning today?
- Do you have anything exciting that might be happening when you go back to class?
- You better get back so that you don’t miss any of the amazing learning that is going on in class.
- Remember to be your best!
It is vital that the office staff is aware of this strategy before trying it.
- Send for a drink!
- Not for you… have a student get a drink of water.
- Keeping hydrated will support attention to learning.
- The movement might be the needed distraction that will get your student back on a productive track.
- Secret Student Leaders
- Pick one child as a “Secret Student Leader” when going somewhere or doing something within your classroom (transition, independent work, assembly, going to lunch, walking in hall, being a good friend, etc.). Pick one boy and one girl (pull names out of a hat), and don’t reveal the “Secret Student Leader” until you return back from your destination or the activity is finished. This raises level of anticipation for students because they might be the secret person and it is fun! If the “Secret Student Leader” was not quiet or inappropriate… simply state, “My Secret Leader did not meet the expectation of a Leader.” and put name back into the hat. Do not tell who it is. It helps students self-regulate and it is fun. At another time, away from the class, talk to the misbehaving student to reinforce good behavior.
- Count it Down to bring your class to attention. How do you bring everyone back to the group during group discussions? Do you utilize a bell or timer? Do you say “one, two, three... eyes on me” to regain attention? Those examples may work; however, they do not necessarily give students a chance to finish their thoughts. Try this strategy: Simply, softly, and slowly count down from 10, 9, 8, 7… all the way to 0 to bring your class back together. It is amazing how quickly your students will finish their thoughts with intentional focus back on the teacher or speaker. This works during staff meetings or professional development as well.
- Time Bound Assignments are necessary for some students who are depending on a consistent schedule. Giving a statement of clear assignment expectations will focus a child on the task given. Many times children become distracted and inappropriate behaviors increase if they do not have clear expectations of the time necessary to complete a specific task.
- Time out
What students need to know:
- Need to know location
- Need to know what specific behaviors will result in time out
- Need to know the behaviors expected when in time out
- Need to know how to get out of time out and reengage with class
Strategies for using time out:
- Know and post rules
- Always provide reminders
- Place in time out without discussion – non-verbal/or whisper cue is best
- Located away from stimulation
- Re-establish relationship after time out
- Use of timer
- Keep class informed about their behavior by setting intervals for a timer to go off. It can be 5 min, 10 min, 20min, etc. Decide the interval then teach until it goes off. Keep a tally throughout the day, tracking if the behavior is acceptable and appropriate for learning. This will raise student level of awareness while supporting student self-regulation. Additional idea: interventions are 30% more likely to be successful when students are graphing the information.
Favorite Love and Logic Strategies
- Neutralizing Student Arguing - Adults must resist temptation to engage with a child who wants to argue, complain, or manipulate a situation to gain control. Try not to think too deeply about what the arguing child is saying, and calmly repeat a Love and Logic “One-Liner.” Simply and calmly say:
- Thanks for letting me know.
- I argue at 4pm daily.
- I respect you too much to argue.
- I’ll listen when your voice is calm.
- Instead of saying “get to work” ask “how can I help?”
Children usually know right from wrong and lecturing tends to be received with resentment. These “One-Liners” put the focus back on the child and empowers them to think about their situation rather than the argument. Just remember that this technique can backfire if the “One-Liners” are said with sarcasm, frustration, or anger.
- One Sentence Intervention - Relationships are the key to a successful intervention. Identify 4-6 interesting things about a student which have nothing to with pleasing adults, behaviors, school work, etc. Use these qualities and state, “I’ve noticed that_____. I noticed that.” Make these statement for a period of about three weeks. Kindly make this statement, with appropriate body language and tone, when the student is calm and allow the child to comment, listening to their strengths and interests. After about three weeks, test the intervention. Calmly ask: “Will you do this (or stop doing that) just for me? Thank you.” Remember to stay calm, smile, and whisper then walk away. This strategy only works when teacher-student relationships are established and maintained over time.
- Setting Limits with Enforceable Statements - Adults can easily give away all their power with one statement: “Stop that!” and a difficult student may respond with, “You can’t make me!” Now the control is in the hands of the student. To avoid getting into a trap, use Love and Logic “Enforceable Statements” rather than telling a child what to do, such as:
- Snack time is for children who wash their hands.
- You may play with that toy as long as there is no hitting.
- I allow student to remain with the group when they are not causing a problem.
- I take classes to recess when they can walk quietly in the hall.
- I’ll listen when your voice is calm.
- You may join the group when you are calm.
- You may participate as long as there is no name calling.
Making an “Enforceable Statement” allows teachers to give specific details regarding the expected behaviors while decreasing the chance for an insubordinate response. As always, adults should be cognizant of body language and tone of voice with delivering “Enforceable Statements.”
I highly recommend Love and Logic strategies and professional development for parent and teachers. Check out the website - Love and Logic
Many times anger and frustration can fuel misbehavior. The key it to keep strategies easy for teachers and parents, while empowering children to be in charge of making good decisions. It is also extremely important to stay consistent in the delivery of strategies and expectations. Don’t try every technique learned at once. Pick one or two strategies that will support and build your repertoire of strategies. If Tier 1 interventions do not work, then teachers and/or parents may want to consult with the building principal or Child Study Team to implement Tier 2 or 3 interventions while formalizing a Behavior Intervention Plan (We call them a Plan for Success) that is regularly reviewed with student, team, and parents.
Always remember that all children need to feel LOVED, IMPORTANT, and SAFE! This statement substantially increases in importance when a child is demonstrating feelings of anger or frustration, and our reactions are essential to enhancing success. I hope you find this information helpful and supportive, or maybe just a reminder of techniques or strategies you’d like to get back to using.
Thank for reading!