Dealing With Student Aggression

In dealing with a student who is acting aggressively toward his classmates, you want to send a strong message that aggressive behavior will not be tolerated in your classroom. In addition, you want to help him develop more appropriate ways of settling disputes with his peers. Be sure, however, to avoid harsh punishment or humiliation . Harshly disciplining an aggressive student might fuel his anger and make him more determined to continue the aggressive behavior.

What You Can  Do

Be assertive when breaking up fights. If two elementary school students are engaged in a fight, use a strong loud voice to stop it. If that doesn’t work, you might say something odd ( “Look up! The ceiling is falling!”) to divert their attention. If they still don’t stop and you can’t separate them, send a student to the office to get help. If a crowd of children is gathering, insist that they move away or sit down, perhaps clapping your hands to get their attention. After the incident is over, meet with the combatants together so they can give you their versions of what happened and you can help them resolve any lingering problems. Also notify the parents.

Respond calmly but firmly to an aggressive student. Speak in a firm, no-nonsense manner to stop a student’s aggressive behavior; use physical restraint as a last resort. When responding to the student, pay attention to your verbal as well as non-verbal language. Even if he is yelling at you, stay calm. Allow him to express what he is upset about without interrupting him and then acknowledge his feelings. Avoid crossing your arms, pointing a finger or making threats; any of those actions could intensity his anger and stiffen his resistance. (more…)