The process of de-escalation involves supporting the student to return from a distressed and escalated state, back to calm. The Department of Education and Training, Victoria, recommends 7 recognised de-escalation strategies (listed below) to support teachers and school staff. 

“There are times that the best efforts in prevention may not be effective in preventing behaviour escalating. Recognising when a student’s behaviour is escalating and responding early to address their concerns are essential in reducing the impact of the behaviour and keeping staff and students safe. 

If a student’s behaviour is escalating but is not placing them or others at imminent risk of physical harm, school staff should employ targeted de-escalation strategies to prevent behaviours from further escalation and to address the cause of the escalation.” -State of Victoria, Department of Education and Training


Below are one-pager editions of ‘Practical tools/strategies for De-Escalation’ that outline each of these 7 de-escalation strategies in detail. Each edition includes current evidence-based theory, practical teaching tips and additional resources in a rich and succinct way for you to download:


Recommendation 1

“Reinforce the desired behaviour or positive alternate behaviours when demonstrated. Using active listening techniques (e.g. LEAPS – Listen, Empathise, Ask questions, Paraphrase and Summarise actions for moving forward).

Practical Tools / Strategies for De-Escalation: Active Listening with LEAPS


Recommendation 2

“Keeping verbal instructions simple and minimal, using a calm tone of voice and clear, direct language or student’s preferred method of communication (focusing on the behaviours you want them to display rather than the ones you don’t).” 

Practical Tools / Strategies for De-Escalation: Verbal Communication and Brain Function


Recommendation 3

“Acknowledging the student’s underlying or expressed emotion (e.g. anger/ distress). Providing take-up time for students to process verbal prompts or requests. Problem-solving with the student to address the cause of escalation if safe to do so.” 

Coming Soon


Recommendation 4

“Adopting a non-threatening body stance and body language (open, relaxed with hands down).” 

Practical Tools / Strategies for De-Escalation: Non Verbal Communication


Recommendation 5

“Allowing adequate personal space.” 

Coming Soon 


Recommendation 6

“Using non-verbal cues.” 

Practical Tools / Strategies for De-Escalation: Non Verbal Communication


Recommendation 7

“Providing options (within limits) to help the student feel they are still in control of their decisions. Allowing the student to access an alternative space with school staff that is less stimulating or removes access to the triggers of behaviour in order to problem solve or regulate.” 

Coming Soon


(Note: Students must never be forcibly removed or coerced to an alternate space). 

Important: Effective de-escalation is dependent on the individual needs of the student at the time. If we are not careful, sometimes what we do to de-escalate can maintain or strengthen the behaviour (e.g. using an alternative work area, or breakaway space, when a student finds particular work difficult may reinforce escape behaviour.)(State of Victoria (Department of Education), 2018)

The next time you have a distressed student and you want to help support them from an escalated state, back to calm, you can be confident to use our one-pager editions of ‘Practical tools / strategies for De-Escalation’ to resolve the conflict restoratively.



Edition 1:

Sanger, K. (2020). Zones of Regulation® for Preschool Students: An Intensive Skills Training Intervention Model (Doctoral dissertation, University of Cincinnati).

The Zones of Regulation® (©2020). Retrieved from

Seattle Children’s Hospital (©1995—2021). The Escalation Cycle. Retrieved from: 

State of Victoria (Department of Education) (© 2018). What is Seclusion? Guidance for Victorian Government Schools. Retrieved from: 

NSW Department of Education (2021). Behaviour and Engagement: Behaviour Planning Tools 

Edition 2:

Accinni, T., Papadogiannis, G., & Orso, L. (2021). De-escalation Techniques in Various Settings. In Empathy, Normalization and De-escalation (pp. 65-91). Springer, Cham.

 Brown, B., Davis, K., Stephenson, A., & Francis-Sears, A. (2013). Brené Brown on empathy. 

Chen, C. (2013). Empathy in language learning and its inspiration to the development of intercultural communicative competence. Theory & Practice in Language Studies, 3(12). 

Department of Education and Training, Victoria. Challenging behaviour influences and triggers. Retrieved from: r 

Dixon, M. L., Thiruchselvam, R., Todd, R., & Christoff, K. (2017). Emotion and the prefrontal cortex: An integrative review. Psychological bulletin, 143(10), 1033. 

Herlin, I., & Visapää, L. (2016). Dimensions of empathy in relation to language. Nordic Journal of linguistics, 39(2), 135-157. 

Hit Reset (© 2021). How Trauma Affects a Developing Brain 

Kevin, O. (2010). The Role of Prefrontal Cortex in Empathy and Emotion Regulation: From Emotion to Cognition and Beyond. 

Krestar, M. L., & McLennan, C. T. (2013). Examining the effects of variation in emotional tone of voice on spoken word recognition. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 66(9), 1793-1802.

Liston, C., McEwen, B. S., & Casey, B. J. (2009). Psychosocial stress reversibly disrupts prefrontal processing and attentional control. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(3), 912-917. and 

McDuffie, A. (2021). Verbal Communication. Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders, 5029-5029. 

Mercer, S. (2016). 3 Seeing the World Through Your Eyes: Empathy in Language Learning and Teaching. In Positive psychology in SLA (pp. 91-111). Multilingual Matters. 

Mullennix, J. W., Bihon, T., Bricklemyer, J., Gaston, J., & Keener, J. M. (2002). Effects of variation in emotional tone of voice on speech perception. Language and Speech, 45(3), 255-283.(Dunning, et al., 2019; Tao, et al., 2021; Sciutto, et al., 2021)

Norfolk T, Birdi K, Walsh D. The role of empathy in establishing rapport in the consultation: a new model. Med Educ 2007; 41: 690–7. 

Sutiyatno, S. (2018). The effect of teacher’s verbal communication and non-verbal communication on students’ English achievement. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 9(2), 430-437. 

The Regents of the University of Michigans (© 2013-2021). Psychoeducation: Trauma. TRAILS and 

Zhou, K., Aiello, L. M., Scepanovic, S., Quercia, D., & Konrath, S. (2021). The language of situational empathy. Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction, 5(CSCW1), 1-19. 


Edition 4&6:

Bambaeeroo, F., & Shokrpour, N. (2017). The impact of the teachers’ non-verbal communication on success in teaching. Journal of advances in medical education & professionalism, 5(2), 51. 

Wertheim, E. G. (2008). The importance of effective communication. Retrieved April, 19, 2011. 

Brey, E., & Shutts, K. (2018). Children use nonverbal cues from an adult to evaluate peers. Journal of Cognition and Development, 19(2), 121-136. 

Arqoub, I. A., & Alserhan, F. A. (2019). Non-verbal barriers to effective intercultural communication. Utopía y praxis latinoamericana: revista internacional de filosofía iberoamericana y teoría social, (5), 307-316. 

Thompson, Jeff and Ebner, Noam and Giddings, Jeff, Nonverbal Communication in Negotiation (2017). In Honeyman, C. & Schneider, A.K. (eds.) The Negotiator’s Desk Reference. St Paul: DRI Press, Available at SSRN: 

Helmold M. (2020) Nonverbal Communication. In: Helmold M., Dathe T., Hummel F., Terry B., Pieper J. (eds) Successful International Negotiations. Management for Professionals. Springer, Cham.

Karanikas, N., & Passenier, D. (2019). The AVAC-COM communication model and taxonomy: results from application to aviation safety events. In MATEC Web of Conferences (Volume 273): Proceedings of the International Cross-industry Safety Conference (ICSC)-European STAMP Workshop and Conference (ESWC)(ICSC-ESWC 2018) (pp. 1-13). EDP Sciences. 

Shannon, C. E. (1948). A mathematical theory of communication. The Bell system technical journal, 27(3), 379-423. 

Weaver, W. (1953). Recent contributions to the mathematical theory of communication. ETC: a review of general semantics, 261-281. 

Chippendale, P. (2006, April). Towards automatic body language annotation. In 7th International Conference on Automatic Face and Gesture Recognition (FGR06) (pp. 487-492). IEEE. 

Wisniewski, B., Zierer, K., & Hattie, J. (2020). The power of feedback revisited: a meta-analysis of educational feedback research. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 3087. 

Hattie, J., & Timperley, H. (2007). The power of feedback. Review of educational research, 77(1), 81-112. 

Marquardt, N., & Greenberg, S. (2012). Informing the design of proxemic interactions. IEEE Pervasive Computing, 11(2), 14-23. 

Tasmanian Government Department of Health (2021). De-escalation Techniques 

Leadership Space (© 2019). 3 ways to take your listening to the next level

Community Organisers Ltd (2019). Four Listening Levels. 

Sauter, D. A. (2017). The nonverbal communication of positive emotions: An emotion family approach. Emotion Review, 9(3), 222-234. 

Montague, E., Chen, P. Y., Xu, J., Chewning, B., & Barrett, B. (2013). Nonverbal interpersonal interactions in clinical encounters and patient perceptions of empathy. J Participat Med, 5, e33. 

Geng, G. (2011). Investigation of teachers’ verbal and non-verbal strategies for managing Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) students’ behaviours within a classroom environment. Australian Journal of teacher education, 36(7), 17-30. 

Haithcox-Dennis, M. J. (2011). Slap What? An Interactive Lesson in Nonverbal Communication. Journal of School Health, 81(11), 721-725. 

Ruland, T. (2015). Good body language improves classroom management. 

Yang, Q., Qureshi, K., & Zaman, T. (2020). Mitigating the Backfire Effect Using Pacing and Leading. arXiv preprint arXiv:2008.00049. 

Zamfir, C. M. (2019). Pacing and Leading–The Engines of Strengthening Business Rapport. Ovidius University Annals, Economic Sciences Series, 19(2), 383-389. 

Waldorf Academy (2021). Research Presentation: Diversity in a Waldorf School 

Scharmer, C. O. (2009). Theory U: Learning from the future as it emerges. Berrett-Koehler Publishers.$FILE/Theory%20U.pdf and 

Drossman, D. A. (2013). 2012 David Sun lecture: helping your patient by helping yourself—how to improve the patient–physician relationship by optimizing communication skills. Official journal of the American College of Gastroenterology| ACG, 108(4), 521-528. 

Burgoon, J. K., Wang, X., Chen, X., Pentland, S. J., & Dunbar, N. E. (2021). Nonverbal Behaviors “Speak” Relational Messages of Dominance, Trust, and Composure. Frontiers in psychology, 12, 7. 

Vrij, A., Hartwig, M., & Granhag, P. A. (2019). Reading lies: Nonverbal communication and deception. Annual review of psychology, 70, 295-317. 

Noroozi, F., Kaminska, D., Corneanu, C., Sapinski, T., Escalera, S., & Anbarjafari, G. (2018). Survey on emotional body gesture recognition. IEEE transactions on affective computing. 

Tower of Power (2008-2020). Big Talk