Oct 16

Part II: What's Your Trigger?

Posted by Valentine Burr in Fair Is Not Equal on Oct 16, 2012

Putting Out the Fuse

In part one of this post I shared a visual strategy for helping kids identify their triggers. Part II of this strategy is to help kids learn to "put out the fuse." Once kids can identify and talk about the kinds of things that make them angry, they can begin to brainstorm ways to better prevent and/or manage those angry feelings.

If a peer is a trigger, a kid can write on their bucket, “Choose a different friend to play with at recess today.” If writing is a trigger for frustration, a student might write (or dictate), “Ask for a break,” “Ask for help,” or “Remember to use the keyboard.”

Sometimes triggers are less concrete. A trigger might be that a student is tired, hungry, stressed or frustrated, and the stress and frustration might not be nameable. When my son was five he used to tell me, “I just get mad sometimes; I don’t know why.” And I’ve had a teen once tell me that her anger “washed over” her like a wave she didn’t see coming. In these cases, strategies can focus more on identifying and managing the angry feelings. Buckets might be: “Take deep breaths,” or “Go for a walk.”

None of this is easy. Filling out the matches and buckets won’t magically transform a child’s reality. What it does do is to communicate to a student: this is important, I care and learning can happen here. Of course, it’s also important to know our boundaries as educators. We’re not counselors or therapists, the focus of these strategies is actions that teachers and students can take in the context of their classroom space.

Most importantly, when we see difficult behaviors as opportunities for growth, rather than problems to be “fixed,” we communicate to students our faith in their ability to learn.

What strategies have you used to support kids who struggle to regulate their anger in the classroom?

tagged anger management, behavior, strategies
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