De-escalating Challenging Behavior: Triggers: Antecedents to Negative Behaviors.

Welcome to Day 2 of our de-escalating challenging behavior series!

You will recall last week we examined “All Behavior Has a Function,” where we explored tips for providing pro-active positive attention to students, especially those who may have anxiety or defiance disorders.

Sudden change, social dynamics, transitions between  activities, independent writing activities, or just about any unstructured time or unexpected demand can create a space for negative behavior, especially  for anxious students. Clear communication with students coupled with thoughtful strategies can alleviate anxiety and the likelihood of acting out during these trigger times.

Provide a specified activity during “wait time” (e.g., early finishing of an assignment, transition to specials) to occupy a student’s attention. Such activities should cognitively engage the child without necessarily being academic. For instance, a child who finishes assignments early might be directed to turn over his paper and draw a picture or complete a puzzle.

Similar to discovering a student’s preference for receiving praise, a teacher can confer with the student to discover a suitable “wait-time” activity.

Likewise, providing a “find a good stopping place” cue instead of a time limit warning also reduces anxiety for students prone to perfectionism.

Provide “in-between” activities when transitioning from a pleasurable activity such as socializing to an academic one. For example, perhaps give students a few minutes of coloring time before launching into the next academic activity. Remember, “Kids of all ages” love to color! 

Other transition activities might also include playing content related but motivational videos or music as students enter the classroom.

This list is only a beginning! Consider setting aside a few minutes during Professional Learning Community meetings to devise other strategies to mitigate any antecedents to bad behavior.