5 Second Interventions

5 Second Interventions

by Dr. Will Henson

I spend a lot of my time training staff and consulting to districts about challenging behavior. In almost every training I get the same question which is some version of this: “How do I find the time in my busy schedule to do all these behavior interventions?” It’s true that many interventions taught today require a lot of time of the educator. We are told to make plans, check in, teach skills, help the student evaluate their progress, stop and listen (etc…). Many of these require between five and fifteen minutes – or more! So in this post I’d like to talk about four interventions that take only between 1 and 5 seconds.

1. Smile – I know it sounds cheesy but just listen… 45% of the kids in school today have enough childhood adversity and trauma to impact the way they behave. These students often are constantly scanning for danger and they are especially vigilant towards the mood and affect of adults. These same students are also prone to misperceive neutral facial expressions as hostile. Smiling is making it obvious you are regulated and in a good mood and helps students feel calmer. There is research that shows that positive moods are more contagious than negative ones.
2. Praise – Tell a student who is doing the right thing they are on the right track. This will help the student associate their behavior with something positive happening and make it more likely to occur in the future.
3. Prepare, Pre-teach and Frontload – Let students know what is coming up next, how much time is left in the current activity, or remind them of expectations that will help them be successful. Students who are highly reactive don’t like surprises and benefit from routine and predictability.
4. Speak in a calm, rhythmic voice – You can combine this with any of the above interventions. Speak calmly, relatively slowly, and with a steady natural rhythm. This helps project your calmness to the room. Students will naturally mirror the energy of adults in the room.

Do you have any other quick interventions that use? Tell us about them!

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