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5 Therapeutic Techniques for the Classroom

Are you a teacher? We’ve put together a list of 5 therapeutic techniques for you to use in your classroom to further support and assist students with emotional and behavioural disorders.

Students who suffer from emotional and behavioural disorders often find it very difficult to control their behaviour and focus on their work in the classroom. These students also commonly lack impulse control and the emotional balance that is necessary to handle social interactions with other students effectively.

This can be challenging for you as their teacher, especially in an inclusive classroom where only a portion of the students presents with these issues. But there are ways to help all students in your classroom feel welcomed and ready to learn. The identified students’ behaviour can be moderated by implementing a classroom management plan that is specially tailored to meet the specific needs of these students.

Here are five effective strategies and therapeutic techniques you can use to help these kids work well in an inclusive classroom.

1.    Keep class rules and activities simple and clear

Your identified students (as well as some of your more focused students) will most likely struggle if you impose a long list of complicated rules and demands. Try to keep your classroom guidelines broad and simple — no more than 3 to 5 main rules. Let students know about them on the first day of class, and post them in the classroom as well.

An example list might be:

  • Be on time
  • Try your best
  • Be polite
  • Respect one another

Along with simple and clear rules, there should be simple and clear teaching activities. Using activities that don’t have complicated directions will allow students with emotional issues to follow along and interact with the rest of the class.

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Some activity examples are:

  • Responsive cards
  • Clickers
  • Choral responding (unison responding)
  • Guided notes

By including clear activities in your classroom, your students will engage and interact with the lesson plan, ensuring that they learn alongside other students.

2. Reward positive behaviour

While you will at times have to discipline children for improper behaviour, remember that rewarding positive behaviour is ultimately far more effective in the long run. Many students with emotional and behavioural disorders tend to take any discipline as a personal attack, and because of this, they often learn very little from it.

Try to celebrate the successes of these students more than you reprimand or punish their mistakes. When they receive positive feedback and rewards, they start to see that there is a positive benefit to good behaviour. They will then start to see you as more of an ally than an adversary, and this will, in turn, motivate them to want to behave and do well in your classroom.

3. Allow for mini-breaks

A lot of kids lack the emotional balance and maturity needed to remain focused and on-task for long periods. Instead of reprimanding these students for their lapses, build in short rest periods or mini-breaks into the school day.

Take time to periodically stop teaching and allow students to catch up if need be. Give them time to finish their assignment, and allow those who have finished to stretch, to get out of their seats, and to move around a bit. This will allow them to burn off any excess energy that might have built up from sitting still for a long period of time.

4. Fair treatment for all

Students with emotional and behavioural issues also often don’t respond very well to situations that appear unfair to them. This can trigger a cascade of negative emotions and acting-out or attention-seeking behaviour.

To ensure that you are treating all of your students in a consistently fair manner, don’t bend your established rules for any student. Enforce the expected consequences every time, with every student. Allowing exceptions opens you up to accusations of being unfair.

5. Use motivational strategies

Unfortunately, these identified students tend to have had a lot of negative experiences in school. Therefore they often lack the desire or motivation to try to succeed.

To avoid disruptive or off-task behaviours, take some extra steps to motivate these students. Offer them incentives for academic successes, large and small. Celebrate their hard work, and praise their good efforts consistently. This can go a long way in giving these students the motivation to excel in your class.

As an educator, there is so much that you can do to help children with emotional and behavioural difficulties in your classroom. That being said, we do suggest incorporating mobile play therapy into your classroom should you ever feel out of your depth.

Have you tried any of these techniques yet? Or do you have any suggestions of your own? We’d love to hear in the comments.

Contact us at Chameleon Play Therapy for all play therapy related queries and services. Get in touch today!


Play Therapy Techniques to Try at Home

Play Therapy Techniques

In order to facilitate a child’s esteem and help her express herself verbally, mom can instil a few play therapy techniques at home during playtime with her child. We’ve compiled a list of Play Therapy techniques for you to try at home.

In play therapy, we reflect a child’s knowledge, interests, decisions, thoughts, emotions and behaviours back to them verbally. We also reinforce their efforts, independence and positive personality traits. Mom can use phrases such as “you worked very hard on that”, “you did that all by yourself”, and “that’s frustrated you a little”, etc.

Using emotive words will help a child develop an emotional vocabulary which she can use when she needs to express herself. This should reduce the need to act out physically or otherwise inappropriately when her thoughts and emotions are overwhelming her.

By reflecting a child’s behaviours, you make her feel as though you are present with her and that she is heard. It is safe, then, to express feelings and check her boundaries.

1. Emotional Check-ins

Mom and dad can further facilitate overall well-being at home by setting aside a time and place for an “emotional check-in” each day. This is when they reflect their child’s feelings back to her. This will help the child further develop her emotional vocabulary. In this time, there is no judgement for anything your child says, only unconditional positive regard.

2. Boundary Setting Script

A lot of parents struggle with setting boundaries with their children. We help our parents by providing them with a script to use to help things along. This script ensures the child’s needs are met and that they are heard while reinforcing what the rules are around certain issues. The more you use the script, the more effective it becomes and you will enjoy lasting results.

When correcting behaviour its important to remember to:

  1. Acknowledge the need.
  2. Set the boundary.
  3. Offer an alternative.

e.g. Your child interrupts you when you are speaking to someone else:

  1. “I know you want to talk to me right now.”
  2. “You need to please wait for me to finish what I’m saying to my friend.”
  3. “You will have my undivided attention when I am finished.”

e.g. Your child is refusing to go to bed at bedtime:

  1. “I know you would like to stay up later tonight.”
  2. “It’s a school night and you need to go to bed now.”
  3. “On Friday, we’ll watch a movie together and you can stay up later than usual then.”

When boundaries are being pushed:

  1. If you choose to act, you choose for me to react.
  2. Do what you say you’re going to.
  3. Reflect afterwards on your child’s choice.

e.g. your child is screaming to get her way after you have said no

  1. “If you choose to continue screaming, you choose for me to not understand you and I will have to leave.”
  2. If your child continues screaming, leave the room.
  3. “I’m sorry you chose for me to leave the room.

It’s important to reflect on good decisions too:

      “I’m glad you chose to stop screaming.”

3. Reinforce Good Behavior

Notice and reflect when your child is behaving the way you want them to. Even if you have to spy on them to find opportunities to do this, we recommend it as this is an extremely effective technique in building self-esteem.

  • giving a high-five
  • offering praise
  • giving a hug or pat on the back
  • giving a thumbs-up
  • clapping and cheering
  • telling another adult how proud you are of your child’s behaviour while your child is listening

Consider Play Therapy

Play Therapy takes place in a space that is safe and reassuring, allowing a child to express negative emotions effectively. They get to channel any form of aggression, facilitate self-esteem, and focus on overall happiness and wellbeing. This results in a steady progression of the level of school work and a reduction of possible problem behaviours in the classroom as well as at home so that a child may learn, develop and enjoy their life experience more optimistically.

Featured on

Recently we contributed to an article written by Warren Robertson for Leisurely, a South African lifestyle magazine. Our resident play therapist and Registered Counsellor, Brenda Leemans, chatted with Warren to discuss when to send a toddler to school.

Brenda added insight into the most important things to remember when facing this question. This is a question that has stressed out oodles of parents over the years. We hope that this article will offer you some insight. You can read the original article here and hopefully, it will help put your mind at ease.

Thank you, Warren!

If you don’t already, please connect with us! We love hearing from our friends, fans, and followers. Alternatively, you can send us an email to

New Chameleon Website, Ready, Steady, Launch!

New Chameleon website!

We’re so excited to announce the launch of the new Chameleon Play Therapy website. At long last we have a new digital home for Chameleon Play Therapy, a home that reflects our joy in working with children. We invite you to browse and have a look at our new site… Thank you Odd Poppy Creative!

To view our full service offering you can visit our Services page. To find out more about Brenda Leemans, you can view her profile.

Visit our Blog page for interesting articles relating to Play Therapy and our centre. You can make a booking here, or you can get in touch with us via our Contact page.

New Chameleon Play Therapy website Home page

If you don’t already, please connect with us! We love hearing from our friends, fans, and followers. Alternatively, you can send us an email to