Behavior Improvement Strategies

Helpful vs. Hurtful

What it is: A simple phrase that helps kids frame was is okay and not okay to do to themselves or others.


Background: Last year I was having trouble getting my students to understand what behavior was okay and what wasn’t okay in the classroom. There are a lot of gray areas in a SPED classroom and when I’d ask kids if they thought what they did was “nice” or “okay” I could tell that they were having trouble determining that so I started using the phrase, “Was that helpful or hurtful?” It frames everything in an extremely understandable way and with it, my students are able to monitor their own behavior so much better. I’ve not come across a misunderstanding over it yet and long conversations in which I attempt to explain why why something is okay or not okay have dropped significantly. It’s a magic phrase. I remind my students every morning that we want to try to be helpful and not hurtful in everything we do, and I teach them to ask the question of themselves when they are making decisions that will affect themselves or others: “Am I being helpful or hurtful?” It flows into lessons effortlessly, all the time. I hope it will help you too!


-Miss S.


One thought on “Helpful vs. Hurtful

  1. Terrific words!!! In regards to odd behavior, I use, “is it expected or unexpected?”. If unexpected, how does it make people feel? Uncomfortable. Thanks Via Pangea for your wonderful sharing!

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