Behavior management in the classroom is TOUGH. You have groups to run, paperwork to complete, parents to call- the last thing you need is a kid to have a meltdown in the middle of your well planned out lesson. I am here to give you ten easy behavior management strategies you can implement today!
Before addressing a behavior, check yourself- are you angry? Are you anxious? You need to be calm yourself to help others. If you are not, ask for help. Behavior management starts with you, help yourself before you help others!
Avoid Power Struggles
Drop the expectation. It is hard to do- you feel like the kid may be winning, but you will be in the end! Power struggles do not work. Try to drop or change the expectation. This takes practice, because it is not in our nature to drop an expectation. It can be difficult to do in the moment, but it will help in the long run!
Take a deep breath.
You can take a deep breath can help students with co-regulate and remain calm yourself. Not only does this help the child with co-regulation, it keeps you calm. Let’s face it- when we are dealing with behaviors in the middle of one of our perfectly planned out lessons, it is frustrating! Taking a deep breath will remind you to stay calm, cool, and collected.
This can be difficult skill to learn. Some examples are summarize, ask for clarification, and show you are listening by your body language (nod, engage in some eye contact etc.). Try doing this with someone in your life, let them tell you about something and try to be conscious of how you respond. After, ask how it made them feel!
Set clear expectations.
Remind the child what is expected of them when they are demonstrating behaviors. Use limited language and remain calm. As hard as it may be keep your voice neutral and firm.
Students can not process information when they are upset. Think of yourself if you have to give a speech to a large audience, do you freeze up? Is it difficult to find the words you want to say? This is the same physiological process that occurs with kids! The less talking the better.
Teach them calming strategies
These are key. However, when a child is upset, they will not work if they have not been practiced before. The strategies must be taught when the child is calm and in full control. There are many great resources to work on calming strategies. Here is one to try out. It is on a digital platform, so can be used anywhere!
Catch them being good
This is the fun part for you! It is hard for some kids to do what is expected and it may be out of their control. When they are doing what is expected- let them know how proud you are! A great tool for this is using a token economy! If you are not sure how to implement one, I detailed it all out for you! Check it out!
This is possibly the most powerful strategy. Give choices: 2 problems or 3 etc. It gives them control and you still have them complete work!
Language is hard. It can be confusing and words have many meanings. That is why I love using visuals! It give students a clear picture of what is expected. I love these visuals to give simple directions. They are clear cut and easy to use.
Behavior can be tough, but there are small steps you can take to make it more manageable in your classroom. Before trying to tackle all ten behavior management strategies at once, try one or two. When you master them, add in a few more.
Good luck! Your students are lucky to have you.