23 Ways to Support Learners Who Exhibit Self-Destructive Behavior

Are you looking for ways to support students who exhibit self-destructive behavior? If so, keep reading.

1. Give the student a selection of optional learning activities to be performed (e.g., if a learning experience results in self-destructive behaviors, an optional learning experience can be substituted).

2. Teach the student appropriate ways to deal with anxiety, frustration, and anger (e.g., move away from the stimulus, verbalize unhappiness, select another learning experience, etc.).

3. Teach the student problem-solving skills: (a) find the problem, (b) find goals and objectives, (c) create strategies, (d) create a plan for action, and (e) carry out the plan.

4. Provide a consistent daily routine (schedule).

5. Refrain from discussions or prevent stimuli in their surroundings that remind the student of unpleasant experiences/sensitive topics (e.g., divorce, death, unemployment, alcoholism, etc.).

6. Do not criticize. On occasions where correcting the student, be honest yet compassionate. Never cause the student to feel bad about themselves.

7. Intervene early and often when there is a problem to prevent more severe problems from happening.

8. Make sure the student does not become involved in overstimulating learning activities.

9. Always treat the student with the utmost respect. Talk objectively at all times.

10. Convey your feelings in a socially acceptable way.

11. Teach the student to think before acting (e.g., they should ask themselves, “What is happening?” “What am I doing?” “What should I do?” “What will be best for me?”).

12. Let the student voice their opinion in a situation to avoid becoming angry or upset.

13. Provide consistent expectations to lessen the likelihood of the student hurting themselves.

14. Praise the student for demonstrating appropriate behavior based on the duration of time the student can be successful. As the student shows success, slowly increase the amount of time required for reinforcement.

15. Praise those students in the classroom who engage in appropriate behaviors.

16. Create classroom rules: • Complete every assignment. • Remain in your seat. • Finish tasks. • Meet task expectations. • Raise your hand. Examine rules often. Praise students for following the rules.

17. Talk with the student to explain(a) what the student is doing wrong (e.g., hurting self) and (b) what the student should be doing (e.g., talking about the situation, demonstrating self-control, problem-solving, etc.).

18. Praise the student for engaging in appropriate behavior: (a) give the student a concrete reward (e.g., privileges such as leading the line, handing out learning materials, 10 minutes of free time, etc.) or (b) give the student an informal reward (e.g., praise, handshake, smile, etc.).

19. Consider using an adaptive behavior management app. Click here to view a list of apps that we recommend.

20. Click here to learn about six bonus strategies for challenging problem behaviors and mastering classroom management.

21. Consider using a socio-emotional learning app. Click here to view a list of apps that we recommend.

22. Consider using an emotional intelligence app. Click here to view a list of apps that we recommend.

23. Consider using a school counseling app. Click here to view a list of apps that we recommend.

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