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Fighting in the playground

Updated: Feb 28, 2022

A teacher writes about her use of the four-step framework of Emotion Coaching in a recent interaction with a pupil:


Malakai, a year 3 boy was sent in from lunch after hitting another child.

He was upset and when asked what had happened, said “I had to hit Zak because he would not listen and stop annoying my friends, I should not have hit him“.

What emotions were going on underneath for the adult and pupil?

I was concerned that Malakai needed to calm down as he was very emotional.

I was reassured that he knew hitting Zak was not the right thing to do.

Malakai was frustrated and very disappointed with himself and he knew he should not have hit out.

What the teacher did

Teacher: What happened?

Malakai: (visibly upset) Zak would not leave my friends alone even though I told him lots of times, so I hit him...I should not have hit him.

Teacher: I can see you are really disappointed in yourself.

Malakai: I am.

Teacher: Malaki, what could you have done instead?.

Malaki: Tell the teacher.

Teacher: Sounds like a good plan for the future. What do you need to do now to put things right?

Malakai: Say sorry.

Teacher: I can tell you are still very upset. I'll give you a while to calm down.

After a while I could see his face had relaxed and he had a half smile, perhaps indicating relief that it had been dealt with. Malakai went and apologised and returned to class for his afternoon learning.

Teacher Reflection

A few years ago before Emotion Coaching training, this situation would have been dealt with by expressing lots of disappointment in Malakai and excluding him from afternoon lessons/learning. Malakai was already disappointed enough in his actions, he did not need to be shown more disapproval.

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