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How to Teach an Emotional Disturbance
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How to Teach an Emotional Disturbance

As a teacher, you may encounter students who have emotional disturbances. These students may display a range of behaviors, such as aggression, anxiety, depression, and mood swings, which can make it challenging to teach them effectively. However, with the right approach and strategies, you can create a safe and supportive learning environment that helps students with emotional disturbances thrive. In this article, we will explore how to teach an emotional disturbance and provide tips for managing challenging behaviors.

Understanding Emotional Disturbances

Before we discuss how to teach emotional disturbances, it’s essential to understand what they are. Emotional disturbances refer to a range of mental health conditions that affect a student’s ability to learn and function in a classroom setting. These conditions include anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, depression, and conduct disorder.

Students with emotional disturbances may experience a range of symptoms, including mood swings, aggression, impulsivity, hyperactivity, and social withdrawal. They may have difficulty regulating their emotions and behaviors, which can lead to conflicts with teachers, peers, and parents.

How to Teach an Emotional Disturbance

Creating a Safe and Supportive Learning Environment

To teach students with emotional disturbances effectively, you must create a safe and supportive learning environment. Here are some tips:

Establish Clear Rules and Expectations

Establish clear rules and expectations from the beginning of the school year. Make sure that all students understand what is expected of them in terms of behavior and academics. Use positive reinforcement to motivate students to meet these expectations.

Develop Positive Relationships

Develop positive relationships with your students. Show them that you care about their well-being and that you are there to support them. Use active listening skills to understand their concerns and needs.

Provide Consistent Support

Provide consistent support to students with emotional disturbances. Use a variety of teaching strategies to accommodate their learning styles and needs. Provide extra time for assignments and tests, and offer support and guidance as needed.

Encourage Social Interaction

Encourage social interaction among students. Provide opportunities for group work, and help students develop social skills. Use role-playing and other activities to help students practice communication and conflict resolution skills.

Manage Challenging Behaviors

Students with emotional disturbances may display challenging behaviors, such as aggression, impulsivity, and mood swings. Here are some tips for managing these behaviors:

Managing Challenging Behaviors

Stay Calm and Patient

Stay calm and patient when dealing with challenging behaviors. Remember that students with emotional disturbances may have difficulty regulating their emotions and behaviors.

Use Positive Reinforcement

Use positive reinforcement to motivate students to display appropriate behaviors. Praise and reward students when they meet your expectations.

Establish Consequences

Establish consequences for inappropriate behaviors. Make sure that students understand the consequences of their actions and that you are consistent in applying them.

Use De-escalation Techniques

Use de-escalation techniques to calm students who are upset or angry. These techniques may include deep breathing exercises, calming music, or a quiet space to relax.

Seek Help

Seek help if you need it. Talk to other teachers, school counselors, or mental health professionals if you are struggling to manage a student’s behavior.


Teaching students with emotional disturbances can be challenging, but it’s essential to create a safe and supportive learning environment. By establishing clear rules and expectations, developing positive relationships, providing consistent support, encouraging social interaction, and managing challenging behaviors, you can help students with emotional disturbances thrive.


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