One of the best strategies to help children control their anger and calm down, rather than to hit, kick or scream, is the Turtle Technique.
This comes from the scripted social story, “Tucker Turtle,” that teaches children to act like a turtle by going in their “shell” and taking three breaths to calm down. Then they can think of a better way to act.
It’s important to teach this skill to children BEFORE they need it. It must be practiced frequently and then the child needs to be cued to remember to use it when they start to get upset. Don’t wait until they get out of control to prompt them to use it – when they very first show signs of agitation is the time to show a visual cue or reminder.
A copy of the story is below. You can print this out and make it into a little book for the child. You can also read it to the whole class to teach the technique. Children with challenging behavior should practice this skill with one of the teachers or other adult 3-4 times a day for the first week or so until the child shows he or she can use it when prompted. Eventually, the child should use the technique without prompting. Obviously, you’ll want to positively reinforce the child with lots of praise when he or she uses it at all!
Good luck with Tucker Turtle! I think it will be a life-saver for children who need more self-regulation. If you’ve used Tucker Turtle with your children, please share in the comments your experiences!
You can also download the PowerPoint file here: Tucker Turtle Download