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How to Manage Violent & Aggressive Children in School

By Nina Makofsky ; Updated June 13, 2017

Some children exhibit aggressive or violent behavior in school. Whether the aggression constitutes an isolated incident or represents an ongoing issue, educators must have strategies in place to intervene and ensure all children feel safe in the classroom. No single technique addresses all types of aggressive behavior, but certain actions help prevent or reduce school violence.

Create a safe and secure school environment. Set a positive example by never threatening children. HandinHandParenting.org recommends responding to issues in a calm and even manner rather than getting emotionally entangled in a power struggle.

Build community. Do icebreaker or group activities with students, such as rolling a ball to one another and announcing a favorite color or showing a thumbs up or thumbs down in response to an issue. Spend time every Monday briefly discussing weekend activities.

Tackle issues pertaining to conflicts and emotions. Teach children the vocabulary of different emotions and practice role-playing situations that illustrate these emotions. Challenge students to brainstorm how to resolve challenges in the classroom, on the playground and beyond the school.

Be proactive in keeping students occupied and motivated. Sandra Matke, author of the article "Managing Violent Special-Needs Students," asserts that integrating soothing activities can stop school violence at the source. Play classical music as students work. Teach deep breathing and yoga techniques for relaxation. Stick to a routine so children feel secure and know what happens in the classroom from day to day.

Familiarize yourself with appropriate, legal intervention techniques. When it comes to keeping yourself and students safe, you must sometimes intervene to stop physical violence. In many cases, physically separating children is an immediate necessity. Discuss with children's parents and administrators the necessary strategies to employ in case of an emergency.

Isolate violent students when they have an outbreak. Whenever possible, remove the aggressive or violent student from the rest of the class. Without others' attention, the student may be more likely to calm down.

Involve other adults in the student's life. If parents, guardians or grandparents have a close relationship with the child, then their presence may make a difference. Have them check in at the classroom, or call them so they can speak with the child. In addition, school counselors and administrators may be able to intervene.

Locate outside support networks. Community organizations or social service agencies may have case workers who can assist in your classroom.

Tips

Provide immediate and specific positive reinforcement when you aggressive students exhibiting empathy for others.

Warnings

Do not label students as violent. Instead, focus on the aggressive behavior and how to change it.

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