First and foremost, the BIGGEST part of preventing and de-escalating issues in your classroom involves building a rapport with your students. They need to trust you. They need to feel safe around you like they would their mom or dad. If you can give them the feeling of being safe like they are at home, they will respond to you 10x better.
When you communicate, you need to be gentle yet firm when needed. Don’t yell at them (unless you need to be loud to get attention of course). The students that are going to have issues will not respond well to an environment where they are yelled at or where they feel like they are getting in trouble constantly. So, it is best to create a calm, peaceful, safe environment where they can build trust.
A few important tips when dealing with students who are getting overwhelmed:
If you see the student beginning to become stressed, have them take a break right away before the stress escalates.
Don’t try to reason with them. During a breakdown, a child’s prefrontal cortex (the part that gives us logic) is not active. They are in fight-or-flight mode which causes extreme reactions. Reasoning and logic will not work in this situation.
The safer they feel, the smaller the outburst. Be empathetic and nonjudgmental. Keep in mind that the child could be having a hard time at home and causing him/her to be stressed at school.
Respect personal space. According to the Crisis Prevention Institute, it’s best to stay 1.5-3ft away from a person who's escalating to give them space which can decrease anxiety.
Find out the root cause of the issue so you can find strategies that work well to solve the problem.
Be their advocate. Do not embarrass or call them out in front of other students. Invite them to a quiet area of the classroom or another room if possible. If you cannot do that in that moment, call the office and request someone to come take the child out of the classroom to calm down.
Be patient. Be patient with yourself and the child. This is HARD. Especially while you are teaching a class and you need to move on. But the reality is, you can’t move on if a student is having an outburst, so the only option is to de-escalate.
A child may need more help than you can provide with having a full classroom. If the outbursts happen often get the school counselor involved. The child may need some one-on-one intervention which in turn should help in the classroom.
Lastly, understand that you cannot fix every problem. You can only do so much. If you struggle with de-escalating a child, you have not failed. Getting help is acceptable and encouraged!