5 Tips for Handling EBD Kids (Emotional Behavior Disorder) in an Inclusive Classroom

5 Tips for Handling EBD Kids (Emotional Behavior Disorder) in an Inclusive Classroom
The SHARE Team January 26, 2013

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Students who suffer from Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, or EBD, often find it very difficult to control their behavior and focus on their work in the classroom. EBD students also commonly lack the impulse control and the emotional balance that is necessary to handle social interactions with other students effectively.

This can be challenging for you as their teacher, especially in an inclusive classroom where only a portion of the students have EBD—but there are ways to help all students in your classroom feel welcomed and ready to learn. EBD students’ behavior can be moderated by implementing a classroom management plan that is specially tailored to meet the specific needs of these students.

Here are five effective strategies you can use to help EBD kids work well in an inclusive classroom.

1. Keep class rules/activities simple and clear

Your EBD students (as well as some of your more focused students) will most likely struggle if you impose a long list of complicated rules and demands. Try to keep your classroom guidelines broad and simple—no more than 3 to 5 main rules. Let students know about them on the first day of class, and post them in the classroom as well. An example list might be:

  • Be on time
  • Try your best
  • Be polite
  • Respect one another

Along with simple and clear rules, there should be simple and clear teaching activities. Using activities that don’t have complicated directions allow students with EBD to follow along and interact with the rest of the class. Some activity examples are:

  • Responsive cards
  • Clickers
  • Choral responding (Unison responding)
  • Guided notes

By including clear activities in your classroom, your students will engage and interact with the lesson plan, ensuring that they learn alongside other students.

2. Reward positive behaviors

While you will, at times, have to discipline children for improper behavior, remember that rewarding positive behavior is ultimately far more effective in the long run. Many students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorder tend to take any discipline as a personal attack, and because of this, they often learn very little from it.

Try to celebrate the successes of these students more than you reprimand or punish their mistakes. When they receive positive feedback and rewards, they start to see that there is a positive benefit to good behavior. They will then start to see you as more of an ally than an adversary, and this will in turn motivate them to want to behave and do well in your classroom.

3. Allow for mini-breaks

A lot of EBD kids lack the emotional balance and maturity needed to remain focused and on-task for long periods. Instead of reprimanding these students for their lapses, build in short rest periods or mini-breaks into the school day.

Take time to periodically stop teaching and allow students to catch up if need be. Give them time to finish their assignment, and allow those who have finished to stretch, get out of their seats, and move around a bit. This will allow them to burn off any excess energy that might have built up from sitting still for a long period of time. (And it’s good time for you to stretch, too!)

4. Fair treatment for all

Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders also often don’t respond very well to situations that appear unfair to them. This can trigger a cascade of negative emotions and acting-out behavior.

To ensure that you are treating all of your students in a consistently fair manner, don’t bend your established rules for any student. Enforce the expected consequences every time, with every student. Allowing exceptions opens you up to accusations of being unfair.

5. Use motivational strategies

Unfortunately, Emotional and Behavioral Disorder students tend to have had a lot of negative experiences in school. Therefore they often lack the desire or motivation to try to succeed.

To avoid disruptive or off-task behaviors, take some extra steps to motivate these students. Offer them incentives for academic successes, large and small. Celebrate their hard work, and praise their good efforts consistently. This can go a long way in giving these students the motivation to excel in your class.

While having EBD kids in your classroom can at first seem daunting, these are proven ways to help cultivate and keep a harmonious spirit of learning. More good news: many of these strategies for success can help your non-EBD students as well.

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