There Is Absolutely No Excuse For Handcuffing A Kindergartner
LC: What can teachers and administrators do to help prevent these situations before they start?
DC: It’s all about knowing the child your working with and building trust in that relationship. With the situation you’re talking about, the child was a kindergartner, so the school might not have had the time necessary to establish that type of trust, but that’s the goal. A teacher needs to learn their student’s triggers, so that you can see a problem before it gets out of control. Once you can read their actions leading up to a tantrum, you teach the child ways to deescalate or calm down. That too, is different for many kids. It could be having a quiet spot in the room just for them where they can go get control of their emotions. It could be putting on a set of headphones so that they can block out the noise of the classroom. It could be a choice – choice situation, where a child doesn’t deal well with authority, but if you give them one of two choices, it helps them feel in control. It could be removing everyone else from the situation so that they can get some privacy. Some kids are acting out to get attention from adults, some want attention from peers. It’s best to handle these things privately to remove that aspect of it and for everyone’s safety.
LC: So, you’ve seen these situations before. Walk me through how a violent tantrum would normally be handled in your classroom.
DC: The adult who the child is angry at would not be the person who helps the student calm down. Once the child has gotten violent, the teacher will be removed from the situation and will help the rest of their class. It can take up four adults. One person does all the talking and communicating with the child. That will be the same person to restrain the child so that they don’t harm themselves or anyone else. Another adult will be there the entire time, writing down every action taken and every word said. This is to guarantee the safety of everyone involved. It’s also so teachers and administrators can look back and try to figure our the triggers of the situation. Additional adults will clear the halls and help move the child to the office without any other student seeing them. You don’t want to embarrass the child or scare other kids. Once the episode is over, the team will get together with the teacher to try to find a way to reintroduce the child into the classroom. Also, counselors might help the child reestablish trust with the adult they were angry at during the tantrum.
LC: No handcuffs necessary then.
DC: No. Never. But again, it’s important to note that school districts have to pay for the training to take place. Very often, this is a money issue. Our schools certification is coming up next year, and we’re still fighting to get money from the school board to train new staff members and continue our own education when it comes to dealing with these types of emotional issues.