7 steps to support a child with anger issues in the classroom

Almost every child gets angry at some point in the classroom. Anger is a normal emotion. But, a child with anger issues is likely causing turmoil and disruption to your class. So, how do you support a child that has persistent angry outbursts? Follow our 7 steps to make a difference.

1 – Stay calm

A child with anger issues needs support. It is vital that you stay calm. Raising your voice will only escalate the incident. A volatile pupil may trigger feelings of frustration in you. It’s imperative that you keep those feelings under wraps and remain calm to avoid the situation spiralling out of control.

2 – Intervene early

Keep a close eye on the child. Simply sending the child on an errand when you can predict a problematic situation could help avoid another outburst. Intervene early and you have the most chance of getting the child to forget what he or she was angry about.

3 – Have the child engage in activities that help him or her to vent frustrations

Drawing, working with clay, and writing in a journal are all activities that may prove helpful for a child with anger problems. Using a stress ball or getting the TA to take the child for a quick walk may be enough to avert pent up frustration. Acknowledge effort when the child is successful in using an activity to release tension and avert an outburst.

4 – Reach out

According to Jay Birch, a primary school teacher and writer for TES, the most effective and simplest way of finding out what might be causing the problem is to ask the child. “what makes you feel angry?”

You need to try and build a relationship with the pupil. Make a special effort to connect with the child. Ask the child about interests and hobbies and listen actively. It’s likely the child doesn’t trust teachers. If you can gain a level of trust, the child may talk to you about what is upsetting them.

5 – Look for patterns

If the child is unresponsive to your enquiries, spend time observing them to see if you can identify triggers. Also, check in with previous teachers to see what they observed. They have more knowledge about the child’s situation. Understanding patterns will enable you to step in and diffuse situations before they reach breaking point.

6 – Ask the pupil to write about what is happening

After an angry episode, and once the child has calmed down, ask them to write down what happened. Get him, or her, to express what triggered the anger, how he or she responded, how others reacted and how they could deal with the same situation differently in the future.

7 – Provide a safe cooling off area

Removing a child from a situation that is triggering anger is the safest and best thing to do. It’s important that the child knows going to a cooling off area is not a punishment – it is a supportive tool to help the child calm down. This could be the school office, a nurture assistant’s office, to another class or to the water fountain or bathroom. Be careful that the child doesn’t use the privilege as an excuse to escalate behaviour.

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