School-Based Intervention Idea from


Validate the Student’s Emotion by Acknowledging It  (Lanceley, 1999)

When the teacher observes that a student seems angry or upset, the instructor labels the emotion that seems to be driving that student’s behavior.

'Emotion labeling' can be a helpful tactic in deescalating classroom confrontations because it prompts the student to acknowledge his or her current feeling-state directly rather than continuing to communicate it indirectly through acting-out behavior. A teacher, for example, who observes a student slamming her books down on her desk and muttering to herself after returning from gym class might say to the student, "You seem angry. Could you tell me what is wrong?" Once a powerful emotion such as anger is labeled, the teacher and student can then talk about it, figure out what may have triggered it, and jointly find solutions that will mitigate it. Emotion labeling should generally be done in a tentative manner ("John, you sound nervous…", "Alice, you appear frustrated…"), since one can never know with complete certainty what feelings another person is experiencing.


Lanceley, F.J. (1999). On-scene guide for crisis negotiators. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

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