Positive Behaviour Support part 6

The Importance of Self Control

The most common misconception as a staff member, is that you have or can take control over the student. In challenging times, if you lose control over a student, you would normally try to gain it again, for example by grabbing the student or forcing contact. 

Nobody really can have control over another human being. A student must be in full control of him or herself in order to lend even part of their control to someone else. 

Students common strategies to regain control of oneself include:

  •  Refusing or saying no in a demanding situation if you have difficulties foreseeing the consequences of saying yes.

  • Taking a few steps away from other people; when under stress our need for personal space increase.

  • Creating a distance to the other people by hitting out, throwing things or screaming to keep them away.

  • Shutting off mentally in order to be less affected by those around you.

  • Running away.

  • Biting your hand or arm so you can focus on pain and ignore other impressions.

  • Using threats or taunts to be acknowledged.


All these behaviours are positive, forward-looking strategies to regain or keep self-control. In many contexts, they are however considered challenging behaviour because the staff feel they lose control for a short while. If staff react forcefully or confronting in these situations often dangerous and violent incidences occur that the student is blamed for.


No Fighting, No Biting, No Screaming: How to Make Behaving Positively Possible for People with Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, Bo Elvin

Reflective Task:

Think about a time, intentionally or unintentionally, you have tried to take a students control and the outcome has been challenging. Looking back and think of ways you could have made the student feel in control.

St Ann's School
Headteacher: Gillian Carver

Springfield Road, Hanwell W7 3JP
Google Maps / StreetMap

Phone: 02085676291 
Fax: 02088404664


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