Student Restraint as an Act of Compassion and Kindness
Teacher Talk: Regarding Physical Restraint
I have been through several Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI) classes in which I have been taught how to manage the behavior of children who have reached a state where they are “out of control” through Nonviolent Crisis Intervention. Many people mistakenly assume that this process of restraint is punitive in nature, a consequence administered because of a specific behavior pattern. However, this passage from a textbook I am currently reading captures the true essence of what should be involved when a student must be restrained in terms of the actions and behaviors of the one doing the restraining.
Perhaps no children are more concerned with their physical and emotional well-being—and perhaps their continued existence—than children who have lost control of themselves in a tantrum. These children feel totally and absolutely helpless. They simply cannot control their physical and verbal behaviors. On such an occasion, physical restraint is not only necessary but a kindness. The child is held until calm. The teacher communicates physically and verbally to the child in a calm voice or whisper. The teacher communicates to the child, “You are safe; I will protect you; I will not let you harm yourself (Shea & Bauer, 2012).”
Restraining a student is never the automatic g0-to option. The primary focus of training courses, such as CPI, is to become more aware of antecedents that may lead to increased anxiety and acting out behaviors and how adults can effectively respond to those stages of increasing anxiety in ways that can stop a student’s behavior from escalating to the point of needing to be restrained. However, at times when restraint must be applied it is important to remember that this response may provide the student opportunity to experience security, compassion, and kindness at a time when it is needed most.
Shea, T. M. & Bauer, A. M. (2012). Behavior management: A practical approach for
educators. (10th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.