How teachers should handle disruptive students

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It might seem natural for a teacher to discipline disruptive students by either excusing them from class or excluding them from what the others are doing.

But experts say that isn't always the answer.

Hundreds of North Dakota teachers had an open discussion Friday about why there may be more to the story when a child acts out at the Early Childhood Education Spring Conference.

“One out of every four kids in our country has experienced some sort of traumatic incident by the age of four,” said John Richardson-Lauve, Director of Mental Health and Lead Trauma and Resilience Educator at ChildSavers.

Experts say that often times those traumatic experiences are why kids misbehave in the classroom.

“If you look at the loss behind the behavior, if you really respond to the need behind the behavior rather than just reacting to the behavior, we're going to get better results,” said Richardson-Lauve,

Putting a kid in the corner for misbehaving is an easy solution for teachers, but experts say it's not always the best way to react.

“When we look at how to support kids that have experienced trauma, the first thing is we need to look at the needs that are behind the behavior because all we do is have disciplinary response, put a kid in timeout or suspend a kid from a program, but it's not responding to the need behind that behavior and it's not helping teach them lessons,” said Richardson-Lauve.

Experts says it's not unusual for kids ages four and younger to be exposed to trauma.

“I think there's more trauma happening than we realize, and I think that's why things like this are so important so that we are aware of that and can ask those questions and get the help those kids need,” said Corinne Chruszch, Early Childhood Special Education.

Richardson-Lauve says resilience is the best medicine for helping children overcome their trauma.

“Instead of making assumptions, find out what the real story is," said Chruszch.

Richardson-Lauve says before punishing a student, teachers should ask what happened to the child rather than what's wrong with them.

North Dakota Head Start and Early Head Start Programs are now accepting applications for the 2018-2019 school year. To apply you can go to their website at