Importance of predictability Safe, contained, consistent response is so important The child needs to know that they will get the same response from all members of staff Traumatized children do not respond well to the unexpected To help child feel safe and help you to connect with them – build trust 2 hands approach – empathy / understanding and boundaries / containment.
Routines and rituals Visual timetables Visual reminders – positive language Inform class of any changes Consider plan B for unexpected change - ?video from class teacher Designate spaces for specific activities Establish classroom rituals – morning handshake, afternoon goodbye, sharing compliments Mark transitions during the day e.g. moving from playground to classroom, signals to mark start and end of a task (?music, ring a bell)
Creating predictability in school Calm and predictable transitions Praise publically and criticize privately Model and catch appropriate behaviour Specific labelled praise e.g. “well done for telling me you feel angry” Move towards a whole class approach Foster a sense of belonging and connection e.g. child can gain 1 sticker or 2 whole-class marble points
Classroom rules Clear boundaries important Engage children in setting class rules – link with rights charter at WTS Provide explanation for school rules e.g. “in order to keep you safe I have to … “ Using language of safety Revisit rules regularly Remember limits can be triggering for some children
Minimize the triggering impact of limit setting • Provide a rationale • Throwing pens at people can hurt them. • Link the consequence to the behaviour not the child • I care about you. I don’t think you wanted to hurt anyone but throwing is not ok. • State the boundaries of the limit • You can have a 5 minute time out to calm down or I will hold onto your pen until after lunch. • Move on after the consequence has been given • Welcome child back into class / re-engage with them positively • Make necessary adaptations
Responding to a child who is dysregulated • Importance of boundaries • Link to classroom rules and what is developmentally appropriate for the child • You can still validate the child’s emotional response without accepting the behaviour – both/and approach • E.g. We want to support you to feel safe and ready to learn so we need to practice and find other ways to let people know when you are upset or want them to do something differently.
Safety • My job is to keep you and the rest of the class safe. • I can’t allow X because it is not safe. • (When child is dysregulated) - You are safe and I am here to help you.
Connection • I care about you and I want to help you do the best you can. • I want you in my class. I want you back learning with us as soon as possible • You are in important member of our class.
Identity • Use the child’s name frequently. • Remember things about them. • Ask them to tell you something about them, how they are doing or what they have been doing as part of the check in/register at the start of class. • Remember and mark birthdays.
Less is more • Don’t get too close / in child’s space – their survival brain may lash out. • Keep language to a minimum – don’t lecture or list threats/consequences. • Don’t ask for an explanation. • Instead say “We are going to have to talk about how you spoke to X, but right now you need to take a moment to calm down” • Don’t argue/debate with the child – remind them that you will talk once they have calmed down. • Do what you need to keep yourself calm.
What doesn’t work Losing your temper Sarcasm Lecturing the child or making threats Talking to the child in front of their peers Trying to embarrass them, shame them or put them down Letting things go on way too long Getting into battles over eye contact (they may have had terrifying experiences of being looked at by another) ‘One size fits all’ or ‘zero tolerance’ policies Using negative body language Blaming them or yourself – it is their trauma history driving the behaviour Bringing up the past
A differentiated response to behavior management Creates space for child to regulate first Maintains high expectations Establishes clear rules and predictable consequences Recognises deviation from rules as learning opportunities Focuses on repair within relationships Allows for differentiation based on individual need
First help child to regulate • Be a detective – notice subtle signs re change in mood • Ensure child’s safety • Model calm approach • Help child to feel safe using your body language • Stand side on at eye level or lower • Don’t demand eye contact • Talk slowly and calmly • Don’t use complex sentences • Don’t use lots of body movements • Don’t touch • Remind the child who you are, what your role is and that you are someone whose job it is to keep them safe • Acknowledge feelings • Give child choices where possible • Remind them of previous good behaviour
De-escalating • If the child wants to leave and it is safe to do so – let them. • Don’t crowd them. Don’t demand from them, don’t give complicated directions (they cannot process them). • Give child space • I am going to walk away and give you chance to think about what happened. I know when I come back we can have polite and productive talk • Offer calm down space / time out (non-punitive) / time in • Expect push back/rejection of efforts to help in that moment. Don’t be distracted by reacting to these secondary behaviours. • Focus on the primary goal of getting the child regulated, safe and ready to return to learning.
Once child begins to calm down… • Engage the child in simple tasks • E.g. Ask what lessons they had that morning? Who else is in their class? • Change the subject by asking for their help • I can tell you aren’t ready to go back to class yet, but I wondered if you are feeling calm enough to help me by…..? • Regulate – Relate – Reason • We are going to keep working on keeping calm when you feel frustrated. I know it feels really hard now but the more we practice, the easier it will get.
The ARC framework Competency: Third, we help them develop reasoning skills and the capacity to make sense of their lives. Regulation: Second, we help them to understand and regulate their emotions. Attachment: First, we support children to feel safe and secure with us.