Skip to main content
Ways to handle emotional outbursts in the classroom
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2015 12:41 PM

No matter what grade or subject you teach, you will likely encounter an occasional emotional outburst or tantrum. Students have a lot going on in their lives, from the stress of preparing for Common Core state standards testing to possibly changes happening at home. It's no wonder then that some students may have a particularly bad day and throw a fit or even cry in class. Here are some ways to deal with these occurrences:

Make sure everyone is safe
During an emotional outburst, whether a child is sad, mad or in-between, you need to ensure that everyone around the student is safe. This may mean removing the emotional child from the classroom so he or she doesn't angrily lash out at someone. You also must keep the upset individual safe, so consider the possibility of the student injuring him or herself because of the environment. If the student acts erratically, go to a room with a lot of open space so he or she can move about without running into things.  

Be calming
One of the worst ways you can react to a child showing intense emotions is to show equally explosive feelings, like becoming very angry when a student throws a tantrum. Avoid this, as you will likely only fuel the fire or even cause fear. Instead, stay calm and speak to the child in a soothing voice. Don't try to have a conversation, though, as high emotions can make it very difficult to have a serious discussion or even a light conversation. Once the student has relaxed a little, he or she will better be able to address what is causing the issue in a logical manner. 

Give the student time
While the child is very upset, you will likely have a hard time getting through to him or her. The only thing you can do once you've ensured his or her safety and that of everyone in the vicinity is to wait. After a few minutes, the emotions will run their course, and the student may be less quick-reacting and more open to communication.

Some students require disciplinary action because of their outbursts. Others may need some extra guidance to help them succeed in class because their behaviors are a sign that they are having a difficult time. Gauge how you can be of assistance, from offering after-class tutoring to discussing behavioral issues with a child's parents.