Teaching Classroom Coping Skills for Students with Special Needs

Do you have a student or multiple students with special needs who act out in class if they become upset?

In today’s Teacher Tips newsletter, learn how to teach your students calming skills so rather than crying, yelling, running around or screaming, your students can practice a few techniques to calm down if they become upset.

Rather than singling out the student or students who become upset in class, try to teach your entire group of students simply coping skills to help them calm down when upset.

  1. Choose three easy “exercises” to teach your class. These will help your students refocus and de-escalate the situation so they can seek help appropriately.
    • Exercises may include: taking three deep breaths, squeezing your hand like you would squeeze an orange and relaxing three times, or counting backwards from five.
  2. Prep a behavior story or use a commercial story about coping with anger and read this to the class. Try to engage your students by asking them for examples of situations that are upsetting and how they should handle those situations.
  3. Ensure that your behavior story includes the coping skills outlined above. Model these exercises for your students so they know what to do.

If you witness a student getting upset, cue them to use the coping skills they learned then provide them with a reward and a verbal reinforcement when you see them using the skill(s).

Learn more about teaching classroom coping skills in the YouTube video below or check out more examples in the corresponding special education resource page. For more special education resources, visit Watson Life Resources.