Process and Teach Versus Suspension

  • Situation

    I have a student in my elementary school classroom who sometimes hits when he is on the playground. We are currently working on a Positive Behavior Support Plan. He has been suspended for this behavior before and I’m hoping we can come up with another alternative when the behavior does occur. I don’t think he should be suspended! What consequence might be appropriate and satisfy the team?

  • Summary

    It is good you are working on a Positive Behavior Support Plan. This plan will hopefully provide preventative strategies that will decrease the occurrence of hitting. But, in the event hitting does occur, the team might consider using a visual consequence listing or checklist that provides an agreed upon consequence and helps the student process, de-escalate, understand the consequence, and teaches problem solving for the future. Find two examples of such listings in the Documents and Related Resources section. School Suspensions typically are not successful interventions for decreasing behaviors of concern. They do not teach the skills the student needs to handle his/her frustrations and may actually reinforce the behavior.


    Check the Documents and Related Resources Section for additional information.

  • Definition

    A consequence listing or checklist is a visual support that can teach de-escalation strategies, a way to process the event, an understanding of consequences, replacement behaviors, and problem solving skills for the future; in order to decrease behaviors of concern.

  • Quick Facts

    • Child's Age: 6-10, 11-13, 14-17
    • Planning Effort: Moderate
    • Difficulty Level: Moderate
  • Pre-requisites

    Ability for student to read/benefit from a behavior story

  • Process

    Create a consequence checklist that includes:

    • a consequence that is clear and may possibly be earned back if it is a loss of a preferred activity/time; or limit the loss time

    • a process to review what happened so the student can communicate his frustrations that led to the incident

    • a process to problem solve better solutions

    • The list may include a corrective action such as an apology.

    • The list may also include a choice of ‘calming’ strategies for de-escalation.


    1. Review the list with the team

    2. Review the list with the student before another incident occurs to ensure understanding.

    3. If an incident occurs, carry out the procedure with the student in a calm neutral manner. Have the student guide the process as much as possible with positive framing statements as: “We can handle this problem. Let’s use our checklist. Help me read what we do.” If the list includes choices such as what to use to de-escalate, the student may calm quicker as he has some control over the consequence.

  • Documents and Related Resources

    Consequence Flow Chart (related answer on this site)


    Sample Story Student Chooses Consequence (Word document)


    Think About It Worksheet (PDF document)


    Crisis Consequence Student List (Word document)


    Consequence Steps (Word document)


    Consequence Steps for Any Action That is Hurtful to Others (Word document)


    If you have questions or concerns about the Watson Institute’s use of this information, please contact us.