Tips For Working With Students
(Part 4 of 6)

Here's the next set of tips and suggestions for working with students who come in with some specific issues and patterns. Again, please use your own judgment and follow your school and district policies and the relevant laws.

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How do I work with a student who acts out in anger, and who talks about past abuse or other serious issues?


~ Ask what the student is angry about (or what he/she tends to get angry about in the moment), and allow time for the student to talk. Chances are that many adults have focused on getting the student to calm down rather than listening to what he/she has to say.

~ Ask what the student already does to deal with stress or to calm down after getting angry or enraged. Support what’s healthy, and gently redirect if the student’s coping skills are destructive.

~ Teach the student what’s underneath anger, and how to diffuse rage (see “What’s Under Anger” and “Rage Bomb” activities) and have him/her fill one out in your office to help gain perspective and pro-actively avoid future outbursts.

~ If a student talks about past abuse or other serious issues, remind him/her of exceptions to confidentiality, and let him/her know that you’ll need to call CPS if abuse is unreported, and call home if you are concerned about the student’s health or safety.

~ If you’re going to make a report or call home, let the student know before you call.

~ Offer to work with the student to address unfinished grief and loss issues. Many anger and rage patterns, and students not knowing what they want in life, are related to unfinished feelings.

~ Ask the student if there’s anything he/she needs from you at this time.

~ Invite the student to come back and see you, and follow up as often as you feel it’s needed.


How do I work with a student with a pattern of reckless or careless behavior?


~ Ask the student to give some examples of past or current reckless behavior and what the outcomes have been (allow for the positive outcomes as well as the negatives ones).

~ Ask if the student knows why he/she does these things. Sometimes students know exactly why, are trying to get a specific person’s attention, are rebelling against a particular person’s strict rules, are trying to feel powerful in a situation where they feel powerless, etc.

~ If the student doesn’t know why, ask questions to get a sense of whether he/she is dealing with ADD or another condition that might lead to impulsive behavior.

~ Recommend assessment if you feel there may be an impulse control issue.

~ Use the “Choices & Prices” activity to help students see the bigger picture of outcomes.

~ Ask questions about the student’s plans for the future, and ask how the consequences for these reckless behaviors might impact future opportunities (for instance, would a police record stop the student from getting a certain kind of job, entering the military, etc.).

~ Teach concepts and skills such as boundary setting, social skills, anger management, stress management, and self-care.

~ Work with the student to set daily or weekly behavior goals, monitor progress, and make amends when his/her behavior impacts others, and stay focused on the bigger picture rather than acting impulsively in the moment.

Go to the next page, "Tips For Working With Students -- Part 5."

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