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Handling Anger

Helping A Student Who's Angry

Found in: Classroom Management

I work with Emotional Support and Learning Support students in a 6th - 8th grade middle school. When I see a student getting visibly upset, I escort the student from the room to avoid any interaction with other students.

When we get outside the classroom, I ask what the problem is and what started it. Usually just talking to the student, and providing a chance to verbalize his or her feelings without retaliation or consequence, allows the student to calm down.

Then, we discuss possible ways to avoid the problem before it happens, instead of having to deal with the consequences after a situation arises. (Knowing your students and what triggers their anger also helps.) If the student didn't have time to eat breakfast that morning or had a fight with mom or at the bus stop before coming to school, that can affect how the day will begin. Then the student starts thinking subconsciously about this and may be "on edge" waiting for the next possible negative encounter to take his or her frustrations out on.

Communicating with the students is crucial for success. Anyone who receives a little TLC -- a smile, a compliment, or even "it's great to see you today" comment -- will respond better than someone who is ignored.

Doing something physical can also help. Offering the student a little stress ball is a great way to relieve stress and anger. Playing "Silent Ball" (the ball is thrown from player to player while everyone remains silent; speakers lose; and the last player left is the winner) with the class can also help.

I've found most times that taking students out of the environment and away from the conflict to air their frustrations is the best way to allow them to let the anger go. We walk together to the water fountain and possibly to the restroom and then back to class. Along the way, I give them a "thumbs up," telling them they did a great job and that they can keep it together for the rest of the day.

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