Managing students that have meltdowns

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Pisces_Fish, Feb 6, 2012.

  1. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    Feb 6, 2012

    I have a student who has frequent meltdowns. Most days he has one or two meltdowns that don't last long, maybe 5 minutes at most. He'll sob, kick the desk, stomp his feet, slam his pencil case, etc. The class knows to ignore his behavior as I fumble through a lesson. It's difficult.

    But some days he just loses it, like today. He was screaming bloody murder, slamming his fists, etc etc, and the look in his eyes was like he wasn't even there. I'd call it an 'anger blackout.' Normally I call the office for help, but today there wasn't time - just 3 or 4 minutes until the dismissal bell. I barely got him in the hallway without having to touch him (I am VERY scared to touch students), and I got down on my knees and tried to find out what set him off. I never could get him to speak coherently before his ride came, but it seems to have something to do with a pencil and someone borrowing it without asking.

    I told his step-dad what happened in carpool, and told the boy I would be writing an office referral for interrupting the lesson, and he clenched his fists and jaw, tears streaming down his face.

    I feel like I'm failing this student and handling his outburst all wrong. Advice?
     
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  3. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Feb 6, 2012

    Are there triggers that you notice before he has a full blown out meltdown?

    Will he work with you to calmly take a break? Maybe offer him a card that he can hand you when he needs a break from class. He can walk to the office or get a drink to help him deal with his emotions.
     
  4. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Feb 6, 2012

    Sounds like he needs regular support to learn self-calming strategies. Is there a counselor on staff?
     
  5. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Feb 6, 2012

    How much time is he taking away from the rest of the students and their learning? I feel for this boy, but I also really feel for the other students. :(
     
  6. TeacherGrl7

    TeacherGrl7 Devotee

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    Feb 6, 2012


    I always feel the same way. As much as I sympathize with students that are having trouble, I always feel worse for the innocent bystanders who are losing out on their education....and of course, still expected to pass the test..... :unsure:
     
  7. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Feb 7, 2012

    Has he been evaluated for special education? A FBA and/or BIP might be useful if this behavior has gone on for years.
     
  8. CFClassroom

    CFClassroom Connoisseur

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    Feb 7, 2012

    I kind of feel like the problem is "bigger than you."

    I suggest setting up a team meeting with the principal, school counselor, his parents and any other key players you identify to create a consistent plan for addressing the outbursts.
     
  9. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Feb 7, 2012

    :thumb::thumb: I heart recess I think is right on with this one.:thumb::thumb:
     
  10. juli233

    juli233 Companion

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    Feb 7, 2012

    I agree it sounds like it's time to get other people involved.
    Document every single time, even if it doesn't last long.
    As for a strategy try working on him getting to recognize when he feels angry give him kid words for it. Like when you feel yourself getting hot and your brain feels fast then your getting angry and it's time for a break,time to take some deep breaths and ask for help.
    Give him a cooldown spot in the classroom if possible so that he can possibly learn to remove himself

    This site has some good printables/resources

    http://www.speakingofspeech.com/Social_Skills_Pragmatics.html
     
  11. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Feb 8, 2012

    How about a chat after he comes down? Once you can get him "back" from his anger blackout (and that's a great term, by the way) what does he say? What set him off? What made him so very angry? Why did he react the way he did? By 3rd grade, he's old enough to know that his reactions are both inappropriate and uncommon-- what does he have to say?

    Is there a signal he can give you when he feels one coming on, so you can signal him back-- he can leave the room for a minute to get a drink, throw some water on his face and calm down?

    I think this is less a discipline matter than a counseling one.
     
  12. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Feb 8, 2012

    This is great advice. We have a few students who have "melt-downs" on occasion (some frequently). As they get older, they often know when it's going to happen. One of the strategies that has been effective is giving them "passes" out of the classroom. In discussion with the student, we chose 3 or 4 safe places in the school (office, my resource room, library) and gave the student passes to those locations. If they feel that they are going to "lose it"; they can place one of the passes on their desk, signal the teacher and leave the room. The teacher then notifies the office where the student has gone and we follow up to be sure they arrive. It's worked very well for most, as it gives them an opportunity to get by themselves before they lose control.

    Talking to the student during their "melt-down" is going to likely have no impact. Once they calm down they should be able to articulate (or write or draw) their feelings.
     
  13. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    Feb 8, 2012

    juli - thanks for the great resources.

    I work in an after school program in the afternoon and this has been a great problem for me lately. I am being hit, pushed and yelled at almost every day by a child whose parents won't tell us a diagnosis or don't have one. He takes medications but they don't seem to be working as well the last few weeks. It is really hard to manage when you are responsible for a group of kids, as you know. I can't just leave him by himself and the getting him from the bus to the bathroom to snack to the classroom or playground is a nightmare when he doesn't want to cooperate.

    I am at my wit's end! I am empathetic for this child and his family, but I also feel sorry for the other kids who are disrupted by this behavior (or the target of it) many times every day. Any magic wands, anyone? I am tired of the emotional rollercoaster (and the bruises).
     
  14. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    Feb 9, 2012

    I have a student exactly how you described. When he goes into "crisis mode" there is absolutely no talking to him, absolutely no figuring out what happened or trying to make it better. You really just have to wait out the crisis. It has gotten to the point where his violence has escalated enough that we've had to call his guidance counselor, the school security guard and/or the assistant principal. We use a special behavior plan with him that worked for his teachers last year. It's a bit much to explain it all here but if you want to private message me I could tell you more.
     

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