24 Strategies to Teach Learners Not to Retaliate

Are you looking for strategies to teach students not to retaliate? If so, keep reading.

1. Praise the student for working through their difficulties with others without resorting to revenge: (a) give the student a concrete reward (e.g., line leader status, five minutes free time, classroom privileges, etc.) or (b) give the student an informal behavior (e.g., praise, handshake, smile, etc.).

2. Draft an agreement specifying expected behavior (e.g., refraining from hurting others or destroying their property, etc., when they feel someone has wronged them) and what reinforcement will be available when the terms of the agreement have been met.

3. Connect with parents regarding the student’s progress with social and communication skills to replace retributive behavior. Urge parents to reinforce the student for the use of positive social skills at school, at home, and in community environments.

4. Give the student positive role models who do not use revenge to problem solve.

5. Be aware that the student who expresses and/or acts upon thoughts of revenge may be needing additional services and supports (e.g., counseling).

6. Utilize role-play to explore situations in which someone tries to repay “a wrong with a wrong.” Talk about the situation and arrive at positive alternatives that could happen rather than revenge. Explore the benefits the “wronged person” may realize by choosing positive responses rather than revenge.

7. The student may not know how to actively, positively self-advocate. Give the student information and training through problem-solving techniques (e.g., find the problem, generate positive solutions, implement a solution, assess the effectiveness of the problem-solving plan, and modify if appropriate).

8. Role model problem-solving techniques to replace attempts at revenge.

9. Give outlets for the student who expresses and/or acts upon thoughts of revenge (e.g., artwork, diary writing or self-recording, etc.).

10. Provide close supervision of the student who expresses or attempts to act upon thoughts of revenge.

11. On occasions where a dispute occurs, meet with both parties separately and privately to hear each side of the story. Assist each party in finding positive alternatives to problem-solve. Working together, determine a positive course of action that would eliminate the need for revenge by anyone.

12. On occasions where working with a student who maintains they are being slighted or wronged by another, always listen and respond as objectively as possible. Do not indicate to the student that you think they are lying about another, because they may then “shut you out” and not meaningfully participate in problem-solving with you.

13. Inform the student you care about their thoughts and feelings. On occasions where reality is not consistent with the student’s thoughts, feelings, or perceptions, present the inconsistency by saying something like, “I know this is how you think and feel about the situation, but this is what other people saw.”

14. The student who is undergoing personal stress may be more likely to express and/or act upon thoughts of revenge. Give the student information and instruction on stress-management techniques.

15. The student may not know how to form friendships. Give the student closely supervised chances to meet others in leisure and social functions.

16. Support the student in actively implementing sensible, positive alternative to revenge, but make sure the student (a) is calm (e.g., no longer feeling hostile), (b) has developed their thoughts and plans in the event the positive alternative doesn’t work (e.g., will use coping skills and positive forms of self-expression, etc.), (c) has developed a “Plan B” that consists of another chosen positive alternative to try, and ( d) will assess the effectiveness of their approach with the teacher after this has been attempted.

17. On occasions where incidents happen during a day in which someone could have behaved in a vindictive fashion but chose a positive alternative instead, reinforce that student for their choice.

18. The student may associate “bad feelings” with “being bad.” Urge the student to instead view themselves as excellent and to accept their feelings. Urge the student to view the choices they make as either acceptable or unacceptable, poor/excellent, etc.

19. Refrain from inadvertently reinforcing a student for their expressed aggressive thoughts, such as thoughts about “paying someone back.” Give the student more oral response for positive actions you would like to see again to prevent or discourage the student from expressing and trying to act upon aggressive thoughts for attention.

20. In the interests of individual and group safety, never assume a student will not carry out expressed plans for revenge. Always give the student and any potential victims with close monitoring.

21. Consider using a classroom management app. Click here to view a list of apps that we recommend.

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

23. Consider using Alexa to help the student learn to behave appropriately. Click here to read an article that we wrote on the subject.

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

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