Reply To: Consequences for Unsafe School Behavior

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Devon Frye

This reply was originally posted by user brlk13 in ADDitude’s now-retired community.

I apologize, I guess I’m not explaining myself very well or I’m not understanding your situation correctly :/ My son used to have ongoing outbursts that disrupted the class. His actions were not dangerous but they did make it difficult to teach. I understand these kids “trigger” the behavior themselves because they get so frustrated or angry and can’t find the words so they act out instead. In my experience there are signs that an outburst is coming long before it escalates to out of control behavior. Complaints, hiding, refusal to do something, etc. Often I’ve found it’s the same assignment/request/peer/situation that often sets them off. For example, with my son it’s always been written work. Handwriting is hard for him and caused his anxiety to go thru the roof so being asked to write more than short phrase answers always set him off. Once we understood this, his teachers could prepare him, give him options to break down the writing into smaller tasks, etc and if they saw him starting to become agitated they could give him a break — either a quiet place he could go in the room to calm down like the reading corner or a desk set apart from the other students, or the aide could take him for a time out walk to help him calm down and express his fear/frustration before returning to class. It was when the teacher didn’t catch his anxiety level rising that the outburst would happen, and once he crossed that line he didn’t have the skills to control his emotions and bring himself back to a calm, productive place. Kids with ADHD, especially young ones, have poor impulse control. They don’t have coping skills to control those strong emotions until they are taught them. You can’t punish the outbursts out of them. Can’t punish them for something they can’t yet control. If they must be removed from the room, they need to be placed with someone — school counselor, aide, even the principal who can talk them thru the situation. Removing them and having them sit in the office as punishment with no redirection or discussion is not solving the problem.