I recently attended a workshop that discussed using social skills to address challenging behavior. The presenter was Linda Davidson for Region 20 ESC. One slide in particular caught my attention and I wanted to share it.
My teachers are very good about using strategies to try to head off negative or disruptive behavior. But sometimes that isn’t enough. The teachers who directly work with students who struggle with behavior know how to deal with a full “meltdown”. But teachers who don’t come in contact with these students regularly don’t always know how to handle it and will often inadvertently escalate the situation. So this is information for those teachers who don’t work with this daily.
What is a “meltdown”? It may look like a temper tantrum, or it may look like sever defiance. These are different for every kid and start for different reasons. You may see screaming, kicking, rolling on the floor, covering ears or eyes, crying; you may also see complete silence, head down, refusal to move.
What causes a “meltdown? It’s different for every student. Some students have sensory issues and it may be caused by loud noises or a smell, it may be a change in schedule, or a request the student doesn’t like. There are many reasons for what can cause these types of behaviors. Again the key it to know your students and head them off before they start, but here are some tips for what to do after it’s too late to prevent.
If you come in contact with a student who is having a meltdown first get help so you are not alone, then remember these strategies.
- Remain calm: if you act excited the student will notice and could increase behaviors.
- Avoid excessive talking, questioning and handling: the student may not fully understand what is going on and if they are spinning out of control you aren’t going to be able to explain anything to them.
- Zip it and show it: use pretaught visuals instead of words (the key is pretaught, if they don’t already know and use them, this isn’t the time to introduce them.
- Remember this is NOT a “teachable moment”: This is the number one mistake I see; wait for the kids to completely come down before trying to address the behavior.
- Proximity control: not too close you could get hurt, or too far away they could run or hurt themselves.
- The Antiseptic Bounce: move the child away from the problem area, change in scenery
- Wait out minor meltdowns: once it starts you often have to wait it out.
- If the student becomes aggressive, remove other students and restrain only if necessary.
I hope you never come across a student who is having a major meltdown, but if you do these simple suggestions can help. The number on thing to remember is to GET HELP! Even if you are just going to wait it out, don’t do it alone.