Top 10 Tips

for Managing Difficult and Escalating Behavior

Despite all our best efforts in prevention of escalating behavior, there may be times that a student will continue to escalate. Let us first remember to always start with teaching the student the expected behavior when a rule infraction has been made. With teaching, modeling, and practicing expected behavior, comes highly predictable class routines and structure. These are good strategies to use in the calm phase of the escalating behavior "roller coaster." The following are some helpful tips in managing those escalated behaviors.


  1. Plan Ahead
  • Notice signs of distress (i.e., look for facial grimacing, heavy breathing, attempts to flee or fleeing behavior etc.)
  • Connect with student and validate feelings (i.e., "you look as if you are getting upset, do you need to talk with someone about it?")
  • Assist student with task or provide space

2. Avoid Shouting and Arguing

  • Get on the student's level
  • Project calmness-use a calm voice

3. Avoid Moving Into the Student's Space or Touching the Student

  • Minimize the number of staff involved

4. Avoid Engaging in Power Struggles

  • Validate the student's feelings
  • Empathize with the student's situation

5. Remain Calm and Respectful

  • Listen actively and demonstrate sincere concern

6. Use PEP (Privacy, Eye Contact, and Proximity)

  • Use verbal and non-verbal non-threatening communication to diffuse confrontation

7. Present the Information as a Choice

  • Re-direct with choices for alternative activities
  • Provide de-escalation tasks

8. Give All students a Place to Calm Down

  • Allow a pre-designated "Cool Down Spot"

9. Follow-Through

  • When student calms-discuss restitution and class re-entry
  • Allow student to help determine the restitution

10. Offer Immediate Reinforcement for Compliance

  • Keep working at those ratios of 3 to 5 positives for every one corrective given
  • Reinforce small attempts of positive behavior


Interventions and Helpful Websites