Our Office of Behavioral Support provides services and assesses instructional and behavioral programs for students in a therapeutic and behaviorally supported educational environment. The office collaborates with staff to develop an understanding of a variety of methods to improve student behavior. They also assist with the development of functional behavioral assessments and behavioral intervention plans.
Richmond Public Schools' Behavioral Support Team
(From left to right: Kyle Jackson, Sarah Reilly, Peyton Douglas, Surprize Parker, Kari O'Connell, Sherika Scales, Katerina Momiroska, and Sherita Dance)
Verbal De-escalation How-To
Tip 1: Be Empathic and Non-judgmental
-Try not to judge or discount feelings
Acknowledge the feeling that is being expressed to you.
(Ex: “I hear that you’re angry, do I have that right?”)
-Practice rational detachment
Try to not take personally the statements of others.
-Listening without judgment
Listen to listen as opposed to listening to respond. It is ok to allow silence for the person speaking to reflect on what they’ve just said
Tip 2: Respect Personal Space
-If possible, stand 1.5 - 3ft. from the person who is becoming escalated.
This distance gives you the opportunity to move if needed and protect yourself from harm. This distance also feels less threatening.
-If you must enter an escalated person's space, explain your reasoning for doing so.
This communicates respect to the person who is escalating and allows them to be able to think about how they can respond and potentially make a rational decision about their behavior.
-What are the possible outcomes of not allowing the escalated person to have their space?
You could become an intentional or unintentional target of the person's escalation. You could damage the relationship by not respecting space. You could cause the behavior to escalate as the person may feel threatened by you being in their space.
Tip 3: Use Non-Threatening Body Language
-The more escalated a person becomes, the less they hear your words.
-Be mindful of gestures, facial expressions, movements and tone of voice.
Calm, relaxed body posture (avoiding hands on hips, crossed arms, etc.)
Tip 4: Avoid Overreacting
-Remain calm, rational, and professional.
-You cannot control the other person's behavior but you can control your own and how you respond.
-Attempt to avoid going through the crisis cycle with the person.
Tip 5: Focus on Feelings and Facts
-Watch and listen carefully for the real message.
Validate feelings by identifying them and asking for clarification if you are wrong.
Tip 6: Ignore Challenging Questions
-DO NOT ENGAGE IN POWER STRUGGLES, YOU WILL NOT WIN.
-Answer rational questions with a rational answer.
-If a student presents with a challenging question, ignore the challenge but not the person. Bring their focus back to how you can work together to solve the problem.
Tip 7: Setting Limits
-Give clear, simple and enforceable limits
-Offer school/staff approved choices.
-If a student does not demonstrate compliance, deliver the directive every 30 seconds - 1 minute in a clear, calm manner.
Tip 8: Choose What You Insist Upon
-Do not insist on unrealistic expectations.
-If you can offer options and flexibililty you may be able to avoid unnecessary altercations.
Tip 9: Allow Silence for Reflection
-Although it can be uncomfortable, allowing silence for the person to reflect on their behavior/actions/reactions
can give them perspective and ownership of their behavior. When allowing silence for reflection, remember to use non-threatening body language (including facial expressions).
Tip 10: Allow Time for Decisions
-When a person is upset, they may not be able to think clearly.
-Do not expect the person to respond immediately -- especially if they are still escalated.