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DE-ESCALATION: HELP, PROMPT, WAIT Effect Size N/A Implementation Tools & Resources
De-escalation strategies are helpful in reducing the amount of stress and chaos in a classroom. Student escalation happens for many reasons, and the Help, Prompt, and Wait Strategies can all be used to de-escalate hard situations and promote calm and safety in the classroom. These strategies can be used in succession, but do not need to be followed in order if a behavior rapidly escalates.
Critical Actions for Educators *Use calm body language and voice. *Allow appropriate wait time for compliance. *Praise appropriate behaviors. *Do not rush; de-escalation takes time. *Envision a successful ending.
Help Strategy The Help strategy is used in the early stages of escalation, and involves asking a student what you can do to help improve their situation. This requires the student to stop and think about their needs and then use their communication skills to explain what they would like to see happen. This strategy requires that teachers set up some acceptable choices for the student when they show signs of escalation. For instance, the student may leave to get a drink, may take a lap around the playground, may work with a friend, etc. 1. Approach the student in a non- threatening posture and tone of voice. 2. Cue the student to say specifically what they want. • Ask the student to tell you what he or she wants, or how you can help them. • Give the student 2-3 acceptable choices. • Cue the student to make a specific request. 3. Allow 5 to 10 seconds for the student to respond. 4. Repeat prompt if necessary. 5. Praise an appropriate request, and permit it to happen immediately. 6. If the student continues to escalate, consider the Prompt or Wait strategy.
Prompt Strategy The Prompt Strategy involves asking the student to do something that is incompatible with the actions s/he is currently doing. 1. Identify an incompatible or high-probability behavior. A high probability behavior is something the person already knows how to do, is simple, and can be done right now (e.g. if someone is pacing, request that they sit down). 2. Approach the student with a calm, non-threatening posture. 3. Prompt the desired behavior, in a neutral tone of voice. 4. Allow 5 to 10 seconds to respond. 5. Repeat prompt if necessary. 6. Praise cooperation and follow up with another high- probability behavior. 7. If prompting doesn’t work move to the Wait strategy.
Wait Strategy The Wait Strategy involves waiting for the behavior to decrease on its own. In some cases, interacting with the student will escalate the situation, so it is best to consider giving some time and space to the student to keep them safe. Consider the following: 1. Remove other students and dangerous objects from the area. 2. Position yourself to keep the student safe and prevent others from entering the area. 3. Avoid reinforcing the student’s behavior, don’t talk to student or make eye contact. 4. As the student calms down, consider using the Help or Prompt strategy.
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