The holiday season is a time of joy, but it can also be a difficult time of the year emotionally for many people. This is especially true for children who are being abused, grieving the loss of a loved one, living with grandparents or a foster family, or experiencing other tough situations. Children's anger, sadness, and other feelings about what they're dealing with may cause them to act out at home and in the classroom. Here are a few tips for dealing with challenging behavior during the holiday season:
- If you notice children are acting out more than normal, see if you can identify the cause. Are they upset because everyone else is talking about holiday traditions and they don't have any? Has someone in their family passed away or recently gotten sick? Are they not living with their parents right now and don't know how they'll be celebrating the holidays? Is the holiday season upsetting their schedule and making them cranky?
- Once you know why children are acting out and displaying challenging behavior (or even if you don't figure out the cause), come up with ways you can address their behavior in the classroom:
- Encourage children to talk about their feelings by setting up a quiet corner of the room for them to go when they're upset.
- You can also encourage them to write in a journal about what they're feeling when they act out and help them come up with alternate ways to react to their emotions.
- Let them know you understand that they're angry or sad, but bad behavior won't be tolerated in class. Make sure the consequences of challenging behavior are clear, and remind them of the self-regulation skills you've taught them.
- Read books about feelings to your class. Talk about how people experience different feelings during the holidays, and let them know it is okay to be angry or sad as long as they express those emotions safely and in a positive way.
- Listen to soothing music and/or dim classroom lights when possible. Dimming classroom lights or playing calming music, such as white noise, instrumental music, and nature sounds, can help soothe and calm students. Tranquil, soothing holiday tunes are also good music options during the holiday season.
- Be a good role model. Talk to children about the different emotions you feel during the holidays and how you deal with them. Make sure you let children know that you're there for them if they want to talk or just need a hug.
Learn more about challenging behavior by reading the articles in the Challenging Behaviors category of our Insights and Inspirations section. The items featured under "Related Products" can also help you address issues with challenging behavior in your classroom.