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Behavior Intervention Strategies: Teaching Angry or Easily Frustrated Students

Teachers, both special educators and general curriculum educators, have a variety of challenges to face in the classroom. In addition to teaching the designated curriculum and helping students be successful academically, often there are behavioral issues that arise that must be dealt with in order to maintain a healthy environment for learning. Students engage in negative behaviors for many reasons, including (but not limited to) Oppositional Defiant Disorder, an emotional or behavioral disability, social problems, or due to being unable to communicate effectively a need (such as being frustrated with class work). Students who seem to become angry, annoyed, or frustrated very easily can disrupt class by picking fights with classmates, arguing with peers and adults, refusing to comply with teacher requests, and making outbursts to express his or her displeasure with the environment. When a student is acting out, the situation can often escalate to the point of the student having to be removed from the classroom. Any time spent dealing with negative behaviors impacts everyone in the room, as the angry student is taking the focus off of the teacher’s lesson.

It is important for teachers to be knowledgeable about strategies and interventions for students who become angered and frustrated easily. If the student has an IEP, the student may already have a Behavior Intervention Plan. However, a teacher can implement a behavior contract or try these strategies with any student whenever it is necessary.

The classroom environment can play a large role in how students behave. The classroom should be a place free of loud noises so that everyone can concentrate and teachers should provide as much positive reinforcement as possible. Teachers should have a routine and expectations regarding work and behavior that are consistent. The consequences for negative behavior should also be clear and consistent.

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Communication with the student, parents, and other people in the school (counselors, administrators, etc.) to find out the root of the child’s behavior is important. If the problem is that the work is too difficult and causing frustration, modifications can be made. For students who feel overwhelmed by 50 math problems, reduce the number of problems the student needs to complete to a reasonable number. Reduce the frequency of high-stress situations (reading aloud or solving problems on the board) for the student. On the other hand, if a student is acting out because the work is too easy and he or she finishes early; create a “work folder” with supplemental activities to complete to avoid unstructured down-time.

When a student appears to be getting angry, allow him or her to take a short break, such as to the water fountain, to regroup. Discuss the student’s behavior in private in a calm voice, rather than using a raised voice in front of the class. These students need to be taught self-monitoring techniques, which include helping him or her to identify potential stressors, decision-making skills, and how to respond appropriately to feelings of anger or frustration.

For more information on behavior management, including specific strategies and scenarios, click here for resources from the Grossmont Union High School District.


Managing Disruptive Classroom Behavior, Grossmont Union High School District