Behaviour management is hard in the classroom. And this gets even harder when it is a special education classroom. 

You may deal with kids with autism, speech and language disabilities, emotional disturbances, other health impaired like ADHD in your class. And managing their behaviour may feel like the most significant challenge in the class, no matter how long your experience as a special ed teacher or how well you connect with the kids.

In this article, we are looking at ways to provide you with the most effective classroom management strategies for students with learning disabilities in a special education classroom.

 behaviour management strategies for special needs classrooms

Before we move on the strategies, let’s discuss the two parts of behaviour management in a classroom.

  1. Prevention - Creating order and cultivating good behaviours in children to help them behave up to the set expectations.
  2. Intervention – Strategies to correct unacceptable behaviours in the classroom and help the child meet the expected level of good behaviour.

Teachers should primarily focus on prevention strategies. This should be done by defining and teaching correct and acceptable behaviours in the class. This will give each student an idea of boundaries, what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. Thus reducing tantrums, disruptions, and meltdowns, you have to deal with in the first place.

However, corrective behavioural intervention is also crucial to maintaining order and good behaviour patterns in children. But according to experts in the field, it should be 80% of prevention and 20% of intervention. 

Understanding the child

Let's get real; every child in your classroom has different disabilities and diagnoses. Thus, it’s not fair or practical to have the same behavioural expectations for every kid in your class.

Understanding all your children's behaviour patterns with a functional behaviour analysis or an FBA is essential to set expectations for good behaviour for each student in the class. Here the analysis should include,

  • Target behaviours
  • Specific, measurable goals
  • Intervention description and method
  • Start and frequency of intervention
  • Method of evaluation
  • Persons responsible for each part of the intervention and evaluation
  • Data from evaluation 

You can use special education behaviour charts to understand your children better. This way, you will be able to have better control of your children's behaviour and measure their progress.

Establishing classroom rules and routines

Although you can’t have the same behaviour expectations for all your kids, every classroom requires a general set of rules and routines to create order in the classroom. So is classroom procedures for day-to-day work. This will provide the kids with a predictive environment and structure to develop appropriate behaviours in the classroom. 

Here it's essential not to give your children an endless list of ‘not-to-do-things’ and boundaries not to cross. Keeping everything simple and clear focusing on the values you want to cultivate in the children is more effective. Here you can use tools like classroom management plan.

Rather than naming the desired target behaviour, teachers must be taught good behaviours through modelling and practising consistently. Also, informing children about the consequences for their unacceptable behaviours and sticking to your word every time they misbehave is essential to create a predictive environment and show them you are the one in power.  

Accommodating individual instructional needs 

Frustration is one of the top triggers for putting bad behaviour such as disruptions. The majority of the time, kids get frustrated in the class as they are unable to answer a question or complete a task or not been able to complete it as per the instruction of the teacher. 

Providing individual instructions for kids who seem to look a bit confused and need extra help with task instructions is vital to help them avoid frustrations in the classroom. This will also make the learning experience much more fun and enjoyable for the kids. Here you can use special teaching strategies for special needs students.

However, here, keeping a close look at children's work and identifying who seems to have misunderstood the instructions quickly and help them correct themselves before they go too far into the work will also help avoid frustrations in children.

Praising appropriate student behaviour

One of the most effective ways to reduce inappropriate behaviour in the classroom and promote good behaviour is to praise them when they show good behaviours. This can be the smallest thing like being calm in the classroom for longer than he or she usually be or something big as helping his friend. 

Praising will encourage the kids to stick to good and acceptable behaviours in the class as no kid likes to get into trouble or get punished. Here it’s essential that teachers praise and encourage good behaviours continuously. Also, it should be sincere and specific.  

Using verbal cues and prompts

Using a loving yet firm voice to discipline your kids when they are showing inappropriate behaviours is an effective way to keep your children in control. However, teachers should be careful not to show frustration with their words and actions or show anger towards the kids, yelling and shouting. 

It’s appropriate to raise your voice to get the attention of the children or the child, but it should not sound like shouting, which will give away your power in the incident and make their behaviours escalate. 

Modelling appropriate behaviour

Imitating behaviours of others is known as modelling. Modelling is a very powerful behaviour management strategy for kids as they absorb their environment fast. Here as the only influences in the class, teachers can be good modellers for the children.

From social skills such as saying ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and helping others to classroom behaviours, teachers can be developed good behaviours themselves, thus affecting the behaviours of the children. 

Communicating regularly with students

Effective communication is also an essential element to improve behaviour management in your classroom. Good conversations with individual kids will help teachers understand the kid and build a close relationship with them.  


No matter how many you implement, you won’t see much success if your strategies don’t include love, empathy, openness, firmness, kindness, and honesty. Kids don’t like to get into trouble or not have friends. So every special education teacher must implement the right behaviour management strategies with love, and kindness and care for all their children. Even if you don’t like them initially.