A classroom allows a controlled and disciplined environment where students come, follow the rules and learn. But what if the general rules of a classroom don’t work on a student?!

Students with required emotional support don’t usually comply with the rules of your classroom. Some students stay completely isolated and don’t allow themselves to indulge in group interactions and activities.

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On the other hand, some students act too aggressively or showcase energetic behavior. These kinds of students tend to make noises and disrupt the general classroom environment.

Both kinds of students require emotional support. But the sad reality is that many teachers don’t know how to support these kids. Which is why teachers feel frustrated.

To enhance your expertise in supporting students with emotional vulnerability, you need to become aware of the dos and don’ts of managing such students. So here they are:

Dos: When Students Need Emotional Support

1. Collaborate with Professionals of Emotional Support

If you have no experience in handling students with emotional support requirements, find help. You can communicate with professionals who help students. Such professionals are usually trained and experienced in understanding the special needs of students and handle them accordingly.

If a student had a professional emotional support specialist instructor, you can contact that professional for a detailed overview.

The more you understand your student, the better you get to help the student adapt to the new educational environment.

2. Have Conversations Before and After Class

Students with emotional requirements tend to feel like a target from their teachers. This creates a gap between students and teachers. You have to work proactively to avoid such scenarios.

Talk to such students before and after every class.

In a safe and calm place, you can go over all procedures and expectations.

You can convey what sort of behavior you desire from the student. And the student can convey what he/she requires from you. This open conversation will work only if you keep yourself calm and listen to the student as well.

At the same time, you can ensure the student that you have studied and understood all the past experiences. Tell the student that you are prepared to help him/her get the best educational environment. But also convey your determination in not letting go a bad behavior.

Inform that you will never hold any grudges, but the student will have to face the consequences of his or her wrong actions.

Remember, you have to keep your tone friendly while talking. Show your determination with your words. Such conversations will help you and the students adjust in the classroom.

3. Build a Rapport and Trust with Students

Even with all the conversation, you will face difficult days in the classroom. Some days will present overwhelming challenges with students who need emotional support.

Don’t let the bad days impact your behavior on the good days with these students. You don’t want to lose the opportunity of building trust and rapport.

Try to find common factors between you and the student. Indulge in a game or have a simple conversation about favorite food, TV show or a place. Anything that would help you break the ice.

4. Have a Plan for Worst-Case Scenarios

Even imagining the worst scenarios with students who require emotional support seems frightening.

But you do need to think about thoroughly and make a strategy as well. Some students with special emotional support requirements tend to face a breakdown from time to time.

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You can understand the possibility of such scenarios by looking at the history of that student.

Without a plan, you will feel unable to make any move, which will put other students at risk. What you need is a plan with the exact steps required to handle worst case scenarios.

Go through the previous breakdowns and see what triggers those breakdowns. Also, consider a scenario where you have to handle those same situations.

Think about the availability of aids for students, another room nearby where you can safely transfer other students. Prepare in every possible way to handle breakdowns.

5. Stay Calm to Stay Reliable

Students who require emotional support require reliable adults nearby to help them out. A reliable teacher motivates, when students feel positive, and provides safety and fair treatment when students feel out of their emotional sync. You have to be extremely calm in order to fulfill this requirement.

Every time you feel you are making progress, one bad scenario brings you back to the square one with these students.

This happens many times, which makes it difficult for teachers to stay calm. But you have to remind yourself that you are the only one there to help your student.

You have made a promise to the student and yourself. So, be ready to handle every situation in a calm manner.

Don’ts: when students need emotional support

1. Don’t Hold any Grudge

You talk to the student with special emotional support requirements and everything seems fine in the classroom. You are supporting the student and the student is fulfilling what you expect in the classroom.

But suddenly, out of nowhere, the student starts acting out. You don’t know why that student is being disrespectful, especially to you.

Students, who require emotional support, tend to behave badly to avoid indulging in an activity, to gain your attention, to deflect your attention or to even test boundaries.

The reasons can differ from time to time. But they occur when the student feels uncomfortable in any manner. He/she doesn’t want to attack you specifically.

However, some teachers tend to take things personally, which breaks the connection and trust. You need to remind yourself of the emotional needs of such a student.

Make yourself realize that bad behavior has hidden causes. So calm yourself down and start thinking about the real reasons why your student has behaved badly. Because if you don’t, that student will lose his or her ability to trust adults who promise to help and support.

2. Don’t Get Manipulated

Students, who require emotional support, can be manipulative from time to time. They tend to act too aggressively or too isolated to make you act their way.

For example, if a student doesn’t want to indulge in a group activity, he might act as if he is not capable of doing that task.

Such situations confuse and manipulate teachers to make decisions according to the students. You have to save yourself from such scenarios.

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To do so, you have to focus on being fair, firm and consistent with your decisions in the classroom. So, you shouldn’t allow a student with emotional requirements to misbehave, just because the behavior is better than his or her worst days. If you don’t allow that behavior to other students, don’t allow it to that particular student as well.

At the same time, don’t become too aggressive and threaten a student with a consequence, if you can’t follow it up.

3. Don’t Feel Scared If your Plan Doesn’t Work

A behavior management plan takes time and consistency to work. A plan can seem perfect for a student for a while and become ineffective after that. But don’t pull the plugs right away.


See what the problems are and make small adjustments to handle the behavior of a student of yours. So, if a student acts badly to avoid one subject, you can work to make that particular subject easier and entertaining.

Communicate with professionals and discuss your concerns regarding the current behavior management plan. At the same time, be patient and give your determination to the current plan you have.

4. Don’t Allow Misbehavior

This requires critical thinking when you are handling a student who requires emotional support.

There are not certain rules. Sometimes, you allow a few misbehaviors to obtain the trust of a student. In other scenarios, you don’t want to let the student get away with bad behavior, because you want to be fair to the whole class.

You need to judge the behavior of a student with emotional support requirements. Then, decide how you want to handle his or her misbehavior.

Hopefully, you now feel more confident about offering your emotional support to students with special emotional support requirements.

Credits: Goalcasts