Decreasing Aggression in Children with Special Needs

Do you have a student with special needs who sometimes exhibits aggressive behaviors?

In today’s Teacher Tips newsletter, the Watson Institute shares strategies to identify the reason behind aggressive behaviors and how to prevent and decrease these behaviors in children with special needs.

  1. Identify the reason behind the aggressive behavior. Understanding why they happen is an important first step towards finding a solution.
    • Common reasons may include: communication challenges, frustration, escape/avoidance, or a sensory issue.
  2. Use an ABC (Antecedent Behavior Consequence) chart to document each time the behavior’s occurs, what happened right before the behavior and what happened after the behavior. This will help identify what is causing the aggression.
    • If the child has difficulty communicating, work with his/her team to identify an appropriate communication plan to help the child communicate successfully and with minimal frustration.
    • If behaviors occur when demands are placed, decrease the demands and replace them with structured choices to give the child control in the situation. Ex: instead of saying “put away your toys” try “Which color toy would you like to put away first? The green ones or the red ones”.
    • If the behaviors are due to sensory issues, provide the child with a schedule that includes movement activities such as yoga, jumping jacks or marching in place. Be sure to consult an occupational therapist before incorporating these activities.
  3. When the child exhibits expected appropriate behaviors, be sure to reinforce!
  4. Enlist additional support if aggressive behaviors occur at a high rate or intensity and/or continue after the implementation of strategies.

To learn more about decreasing and preventing aggressive behaviors, check out our YouTube video below and visit the corresponding special education resource page. For more special education resources, visit Watson Life Resources.