Dealing with aggressive children

‘Aggression’ does not always involve violence and fighting. It can include:

  • intimidation
  • confrontation
  • being over-competitive
  • pushing or being threatening.

Aggressive pupils are not easy to deal with and can be very disruptive. Adults in the classroom can be distracted by what the aggressive pupil is doing and how this affects other pupils. The main thing to remember is to stay calm and try to diffuse the situation. Try to prevent the aggressive child from getting anything out of a confrontation.

Resolving difficulties

Aggressive pupils can easily lose control and behave very unpredictably, which can make them impossible to reason with until they have calmed down. This behaviour is often difficult to handle because it is usually public, disruptive and can be threatening and distressing. Some other pupils may find it amusing and so may try to provoke a reaction as often as possible.

You may wish to try the following approaches:

  • Give aggressive pupils time to calm down.
  • Talk to an aggressive pupil to show them that there are other ways to solve problems.
  • Have one-to-one discussions with them about issues such as calmness, backing away from difficult situations, talking through disputes and avoiding upsetting others.
  • Be precise. Rather than say “I want to talk about the problem you had at playtime” say, “I want to talk about why you shouted in Jane’s face and pushed her against the wall at playtime”.
  • Praise positive behaviour.

Counselling can also help aggressive pupils to deal with personality problems and unpopularity with their peers.

Try to identify what causes the loss of control. If there are predictable incidents that trigger a reaction, do something to minimise them. When the pupil is out of the room, talk to the rest of the class about the problem and discuss strategies to avoid confrontations.

NAPTA, 10 Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 1JP — tel 01223 224930 — email