Everyone needs to express anger frustration, including children with special needs. How a parent or teacher responds can determine whether the situation is diffused or escalates. 

Behaviour plans

A behaviour plan helps parents, teachers and professionals work together to ensure their response is consistent and appropriate:

  • Agree what behaviour you want to discourage (biting, kicking, shouting) and what you are looking to encourage (taking turns, waiting, playing). Discuss the triggers for these and the exceptions - when do they occur; when don’t they occur?
  • Identify a key person for each situation who already has a good relationship with the child. They will intervene, offer support or move the young person during any incident.
  • Some children benefit from a safe, enclosed space where they can go when they feel anxious or distressed. A pop-up tent or cosy corner can easily be set up with favourite books or toys.
  • It is a natural reaction for adults to raise their voices but this may escalate a situation. A quiet, calm but firm response is more effective.


Some children self-harm when they become angry and frustrated. Share any concerns about self-harm to ensure the child is kept safe and offered specialist support.

Expressing emotion

An effective communication system will include opportunities for children to express their emotions. From an early age children can be encouraged to recognise and respond to facial expressions. Circle time discussions with puppets and story characters help develop vocabulary for expressing emotion.

Learning Together

A guide for teachers and special educational needs co-ordinators

Send us your best practice examples.

Learning Together

Department for Education logo

Times Educational Supplement

Scope is a content partner of the Times Educational Supplement.