Date
17 July 2024

Recognise

Notice the initial signs of ākonga distress and reflect on the impacts of the environment as a whole, including the actions of staff, who are an integral part in the learning environment.

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Identify and understand distress

Identify and understand distress

Some ākonga may experience daily stressors that can overwhelm them if not understood and addressed.

For example:

  • certain sounds and sights
  • being asked to do something they cannot do
  • fear of disappointing or upsetting others
  • perceived loss of control
  • being excluded from a group or activity
  • not having access to assistive technology or other supports
  • unexpected events or situations
  • unsettling interactions between peers.

Ask what helps

Ask what helps

Discuss possible supports and make these available to all students.

Tate from Onslow College explains what works for him in the classroom.

Notice the signs

Notice the signs

Ākonga often show noticeable signs when they are experiencing stress or distress. This includes those who may have witnessed or been involved in the distressing situation.

Signs can include:

  • disengaging, lack of concentration or avoiding work tasks
  • restlessness
  • making noises and disrupting others
  • talking fast, excitedly or loudly
  • repeating other people’s words or sentences
  • rocking or pacing
  • hand movements, clenching fists and jaws
  • breathlessness or flushed face
  • hurting themselves
  • arguing or swearing.

Build a kete of options

Build a kete of options

 Build a kete of strategies and options with ākonga and whānau to use when ākonga begin to feel dysregulated.

The suggestions in this list were gathered from ākonga Māori and Pasifika, disabled ākonga and their whānau in response to the question “What helps me feel calm/helps me when I’m stressed?”

  • Kaiako staying calm and reassuring me.
  • Kaiako letting me do something different or fun, or offering me things that will help me.
  • Giving me responsibility for something, or asking me to help so I can focus on that.
  • Using fidget toys, squeezy balls or other tactile objects.
  • Chilling out in the sensory room, or going somewhere cosy and quiet for a power-nap.
  • Using noise-cancelling headphones.
  • Going outside for fresh air or a run around the field.
  • Talking to friends that I trust, or calling my whānau if I need to.

Source: Engaging with tamariki and whānau to inform the physical restraint rules and guidelines. (opens in a new tab/window)

Next steps

More suggestions for implementing the strategy “Respond in challenging situations”:

Return to the guide “Behaviour and learning”

Guide to Index of the guide: Behaviour and learning

Strategies for action:

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