What to Do When a Student is Being Physical

Originally, I was going to write my 4th blog post about mental disabilities. I instead decided to put mental disabilities with illnesses in order to inquire about what to do when  student is being physically violent.

Restraint: I personally have seen during my practicum students that are a physical danger to themselves and others be restrained. My question is, it that okay? We are often told that we are to not touch a child in any circumstance as a pre-service teacher, even if it’s given your 5 year old student a hug back. So what should we do when a student is running into on-coming traffic or is about to physically harm another student? Do we have the right as teachers to restrain a child in those circumstances? According to the Criminal Code of Canada we are protected under the supreme court to restrain a child if they are presenting themselves as a danger:

Section 43 of the Criminal Code says:

Every schoolteacher, parent or person standing in the place of a parent is justified in using force by way of correction toward a pupil or child, as the case may be, who is under his care, if the force does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances.

However, are there regulations to this according to the Ministry of Education in British Columbia? Here is the document answering that question:  https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/education/kindergarten-to-grade-12/support/diverse-student-needs/physical-restraint-seclusion-guidelines.pdf

According to this guideline “physical restraint and seclusion are used only in exceptional circumstances where a student is in imminent danger of causing harm to self or others”. It is important to note that if you have a student in your classroom that is at high risk of frequently being dangerous (ex: a student accompanied with a mental health issue that I have examined in my previous posts) that it is “expected to have been trained in crisis intervention and the safe use of physical restraint and seclusion”. Children that are frequently dangerous are also expected to be supported by  “positive behaviour supports and interventions, behaviour plans, emergency or safety plans, and other plans to prevent and de-escalate potentially unsafe situations”.

Physical restraint and/or seclusion should always be the very last resort. There are other strategies that we can use as educators to create a safe environment and de-escalate the situation. These strategies consist of:

-Reducing access to victims of the student with active aggression

-Avoid confrontation with the aggressor

-Use non-verbal cues when communicating with student like the universal signs for  stop, sit, stand, or walk

-Intervene as soon as you notice agressive behaviour

-Communicate expectations

-Wait for help and ignore student

-Provide other options like having the student go for a walk

Resource for this info:


Mental Health Issues

Mental health plays a huge factor in children’s aggression. Mental health issues can cause a deficit or eradication of the impulse control which prevents a child from understanding when their anger is getting out of hand. Some mental health issues that may cause aggression with links to better understand what the issue is and possible treatments are:

-Bipolar Disorder


-Frontal-lobe Damage






-Oppositional Defiant Disorder


-Conduct Disorder


-Attention Deficit Hyper Disorder




-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (view my previous blog on complex trauma)

-Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder


What to do when student is being actively aggressive?

As we can see, there is a large spectrum of possible reasons as to why a student may be aggressive. What we can do as educators to help a student is being aggressive is understanding what is an appropriate reaction to a mental health issue based aggression. However, there are overall strategies that teachers can use to aid children with managing their anger. Educators need to be assertive and calm when confronting a student experiencing aggression. Teachers can also create environment changes in their classrooms to aid with anger management. The environmental changes can be (but are not limited to) making a cool down area, keep possible weapons like scissors in a teacher-controlled area, post classroom expectations on the wall, teach class evacuation protocol and create a location for evacuation, provide calming tools like headphones or fidget toys, and use a strategical student seating plan to keep designated student in close proximity.





Complex Trauma

What is complex trauma?

Complex trauma is early on repeated experiences in development. This trauma is a presents itself as PTSD but may not be as responsive to typical treatment for PTSD because it is very difficult to diagnosed a child with complex trauma.

Why is it’s significance?

Complex trauma Inhibits the neural system’s ability to return to normal but changes the system to appear like one that is always anticipating or responding to trauma.

Symptoms (often times occurs when a child is anticipating or believe that the trauma is reacuring):

-Poor concentration

-Poor attention

-Poor judgement

-Highly Reactive

-Responds to threat if not present

-Fight, flight, freeze

What does fight flight freeze look like?

Fight is seen as the aggressive reaction where the child may physically, and or verbally lash out.

Flight can present itself as a child fleeing a situation.

Freeze is often shown by the child not speaking, or moving. A child may be moving from shaking, crying, irregularly breathing but will not move places.

Effective treatment:

-Day to day collaboration with adults present in child’s life

-Preventative programs for parents who are at risk of not being able to provide for their child

-Trauma focused therapies (here is a link to distinguish the purpose of each trauma focused therapy:  https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/media-spotlight/201211/how-can-we-treat-traumatized-children )

-Art therapy


Things that can be done as an educator:

-Recognize when a child is experiencing symptoms of trauma, and respond compassionately

-Create a routine classroom with predictable transitions

-Be cautious of what the trauma comes from and adapt your practice (ex: be cautious of discussing certain topics, consider rules of physical boundaries in classroom like asking before giving a friend a hug).

-Have a safety plan for the child (ex: a safe space for the child to go through when experiencing symptoms)

-Take care of yourself, and remember there are people to support you in your school!






Digging Up the Roots

“If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.” -Ignacio Estrada

Hello blog!

I have been spending these past couple weeks researching my inquiry on how to manage violent behaviours in the classroom and I have come to the conclusion that there are many different approaches depending on the root cause of the issue. My experience with violent behaviour in children have come from a wide range of situations whether that be in the classroom as a pre-service teacher, in the gym as a behaviour interventionist, or parent meetings as a person of rapport. From my own personal experiences and research, I have decided to discuss 3 main reasons for aggression within children:

  1. Complex Trauma
  2. Mental Illness
  3. Mental Disabilities

In each blog post I will be delving deep into each category, define them, outline strategies, and give resources.  My goal is to shape my own understanding of classroom management and increase my ability to form an inclusive classroom.

My First Blog


Welcome to my blog! I will be using this platform to discuss my research on how to accommodate learners with violent behaviors while maintaining a classroom community. This inquiry project is for my principles class at Vancouver Island University. I’m excited to discover resources, tools, and services regarding this topic. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment.