What are your views on losing your temper?
Children and young people were asked to consider the theme by using these questions:
- What makes people lose their temper at school – tell us about the kind of situations that can happen?
- What could we do to prevent people losing their temper?
- What should happen in school when someone loses their temper?
Ten of our participating agencies responded to this question. A total of 65 children and young people were involved in contributing their views.
In pulling together the views of children and young people we use a number of pieces of text or art work which they have sent. To see more artworks and larger versions please go to the Groups Taking Part pages.
What makes people lose their temper at school – tell us about the kind of situations that can happen?
The young people who contributed their views describe many factors which contribute to situations in which people lose their temper. There is no one thing which makes a person lose their temper in school or elsewhere. But there is always a reason; sometimes this is not immediately evident or even related to actual events at the time, they can merely act as a catalyst to an outburst.
Most of the young people who gave their views identified a number of triggers which could result in conflict; these were often the behaviour of others, either teachers or classmates. Often the triggers came about through people either deliberately tormenting the person concerned, by name calling or by embarrassing or bullying them.
One of the most frequent sparks for temper was not the immediate event, but the consequence of events at home or elsewhere which manifest themselves in school after provocation.
One common theme emerged, that incidents easily escalate: “Children start being aggressive because they don’t want to do what the teacher asks of them. Teachers loose their tempers, and we loose ours and are annoying"
Key messages from young people were:
- Teachers need to take a calmer more considered approach to issues of behaviour.
- Teachers need to understand their own behaviour, particularly the hurt caused by shouting at or embarrassing pupils.
- Schools need better strategies for dealing with bullying, both by students and by teachers.
- Schools need better strategies for dealing with pupils’ frustration, for example when the pupil does not understand or feel able to do the work given to them.
- Schools need to promote a more positive ethos and establish good relationships and mutual respect between teachers and young people.
A whole range of things were highlighted by young people as triggers to making people lose their temper in school; these have been compiled into a top ten according to the number of times they were mentioned (in brackets) by those who sent us their views. Direct quotes from the young people are included for some of the most commonly mentioned triggers to pupil’s losing their temper.
The Top Ten reasons for people losing their temper are as follows:
1. People tormenting the person concerned, including name-calling, rude gestures, not sharing things which should be shared, being 'slagged off', fighting (14)
“One time I started a new school and this girl that was a couple of years older than me used to try to take the mick out of me. She used to shout things when I went by and the teachers never said anything to her. One time she said I was taking drugs and she started to slag off my wee sister and I lost my temper and started hitting her. I got chucked out of school and charged for this.” (Lanarkshire, female 15)
“People wind me up and fighting” (Crannog East)
“People tormenting, verbal bullying, calling names gets people aggravated especially around the family” (Edinburgh, male 13 – 15)
2. Teachers shouting at the person concerned. Being shouted at was often described, and also being pointed at and feeling that the teacher’s behaviour was intimidating (13)
“When the teacher nips your nut. They just keep annoying you and that’s why I get mad. Teachers lose their temper because we don’t listen to them.” (Crannog East)
“Teachers right in your face, pointing and shouting and spraying at you with saliva. Feels like they are threatening you. I lose my temper – in class and in the playground.” (Xplore, Dundee)
“Anybody who shouts at me – mum and dad used to shout when they were arguing, leaving me crying with sad and unhappy memories.” (Edinburgh, Male 13- 15)
“When the teacher keeps moaning at you about things like taking your jacket off in class, or to stop talking or if you don’t have a pencil.” (Crannog West)
3. Bringing into school stress from something which had happened at home (8)
“If something’s happened at home, I sometimes take it out on people, I don’t mean to.” (EYSIP)
“Some people have problems in the house and bring their emotion to school”. (Coatbridge, girl, 16)
4. Being bullied by other pupils or teachers (7)
“One day I was in maths they kept saying I was stupid and they kept calling me names. The teacher told everyone to get on with their work and I felt myself getting really angry and upset. I stood up and told the teacher I was going home because I felt as if I was going to cry. I couldn’t help losing my temper I was just sick of being bullied.” (Lanarkshire, female 15)
“Teachers bullying you- telling you off for nothing or they don’t explain things properly” (Crannog West)
“One time in school I was in my tech class and we were making a marble game and I glued the wrong bit and the teacher started shouting at me. He was shouting in my face and I said that I would fix it but he kept on shouting in my face. So I went to walk out of the class and he said – Oh I will be telling the head teacher you were smoking outside the tech block.” (Lanarkshire, male 14)
One group of young people from Lanarkshire wrote a short play on a bullying incident -
You can download the Play here
If you are experiencing difficulty opening the pdf files, get the latest version of Acobat Reader
5. Being embarrassed by the teacher (6)
“One time at school I lost my temper because of the English teacher. I was doing my work in my jotter and she came over to see how I was doing. She picked up my jotter and looked at my writing and said out loud – “my six year old son could write better than that”. She then went around showing the other pupil my jotter. That made me very angry and embarrassed. I stood up and threw my chair at the window, while shouting abuse at her. I then walked out of the class.” (Lanarkshire, female 15)
6. Frustration at work which they couldn’t do (4)
“One time in maths I was stuck and I asked the teacher for help. He ignored me and started helping someone else. I started to get really angry cause I was fed up of him always helping the brainy people and I started to get really wound up. When he kept ignoring me I stood up and started shouting and walked out of the room. I went home” (Lanarkshire, male 14)
7. Being blamed for things which they hadn’t done (3)
“When folk annoy me, when a teachers says you have done stuff but you haven’t really done it, that bugs me.” (Crannog West)
“When I was at school a teacher blamed me for something I didn’t do and put me in a room on my own with nothing to do, this made me angry because I was bored.” (Coatbridge, boy, 16)
8. Being treated “like a child” (2)
“People can lose their temper because the teacher’s treat you like a child and they shout in your face in front of your friends”. (Coatbridge, girl, 15)
9. Other class mates acting the clown (2)
“Other classmates acting like the class clown gets on my nerves, wasting time” (EYSIP)
10. Having to do things that they were embarrassed about, or didn’t want to do (2)
“Having to do PE – I don’t like getting changed in front of other people cause I get embarrassed and it’s horrible so I shout at the teacher so I get sent out.” (Xplore, Dundee)
Other triggers were also mentioned, these included:
- Teachers being moody, moany or nippy.
- Teachers and pupils generally feeling stressed.
- Teachers banning things.
- Teachers or pupils “winding people up”.
- Having to do subject which they don’t like.
- Pupils being bored.
- People not being respected.
- Having something stolen from you
- Racist comments.
- Use of bad language.
Primary School Views:
One group of primary school age young people from the Blackford Brae Project, Edinburgh gave their list of things which make them lose their temper in school. Their top reasons were:
- Getting stuck on my work (4)
- Being sent to the support room (4)
- When I make mistakes on the computer (2)
- When I have to write a lot (2)
- If I get tired doing maths
- When I can’t do things
- When people hurt my feelings
Young people suggested things that schools and teachers could do. They also highlighted personal strategies for dealing with things that caused them stress and could lead to them losing their temper.
What schools or teachers could do:
“I think if a pupil has a really bad temper they must have a reason and should be asked if they have any problems”. (Coatbridge, girl, 16)
“Don’t moan, give us 5 minutes to get into the lesson, a lead into the first lesson, get prepared, get6 ready. Get us to do the work without moaning.” (EYSIP)
“Listen to what the young person has to say before shouting.” (Coatbridge, female 16)
“I think that teachers should have respect for all pupils then people would not lose their temper.” (Lanarkshire, male 14)
“Teachers need to realise that everyone is different and cannot be good at everything. If I hadn’t got embarrassed I wouldn’t have lost my temper.” (Lanarkshire, female 15)
“If bullying was sorted out in school then it would stop people from losing their temper.” (Lanarkshire, female 15)
“Not shout at you in front of friends.” (Coatbridge, female 15)
“Teachers should ask if there are any other problems (in a confidential situation) and perhaps have a behaviour group where you can speak to others in the same situation.” (Coatbridge, female 16)
“Give young people a chance to change their behaviour and don’t just assume that they are bad.” (Fife, female 14)
“Let people smoke so they can calm down.” (Coatbridge, female 16)
“Teachers need to chill out and have a laugh with pupils” (Lanarkshire, female 15)
“We should be paid for coming to school.” (Fife, female 14)
What young people could be encouraged to do:
“Encourage people to walk away and calm down.” (Coatbridge, male 15 and young person at Blackford Brae Community Support Project)
“See the doctor to get something to prevent them losing their temper at school or at home.” (Coatbridge, female 16)
“Encourage people to say sorry when appropriate.” (young person at Blackford Brae Community Support Team)
“I wish I could cut out all the subjects I hate and just do the good ones.” (Fife, female 15)
The artworks at the right side can be enlarged if you click on them.
A number of primary school age pupils at the Blackford Brae project told us their ways of dealing with anger in school. The number of times each response was mentioned is in brackets:
- Count to ten (5)
- Take deep breaths(3)
- Close my eyes (3)
- Take time out (2)
- Put my head down (2)
- Go to the support room (2) or not (1) this did the opposite for one
- Ask for help when I get stuck
A number of suggestions were put forward by young people who gave their views, interestingly the views of primary school young age young people differed considerably from their older counterparts.
Older young people proposed:
"When someone loses their temper at school it should be dealt with in an orderly manner by the teachers and someone should speak to the person to see what’s the matter. You could offer them support throughout the school hours so if they’re feeling down they have always got someone to speak to while they are at school.” (Glasgow, girl, 16)
“Sending you for time out before exploring the matter.” (Coatbridge male 15)
“Have time to speak to the teacher” (Xplore, Dundee)
“A behaviour group” (Coatbridge, female 16)
“Should be dealt with in an orderly manner by teachers and someone should speak to the person to see what is the matter.” (Coatbridge, female 16)
“Try and calm them down.” (Young person at Blackford Brae Community Support Project)
“A scream box or a room with a punch bag, CD player and a radio.” (Fife, female 14)
“Put them in a room on their own.” (Fife, male 14)
“A room to sit in, to cool down with soft furnishings, paper and pencils to draw or write an apology then feed back into class.” (EYSIP)
Primary school age young people suggested more punitive measures:
- Get detention
- Lose Golden Time
- See the teacher or head teacher
- Ban them from privileges
- Put in a different class
- Make them do extra work
- Exclude them
- Send a letter home and get their parents to the school
- Send them to the support room
- Keep them back till 5pm or 5.30pm
- Count up to ten slowly
- No breaks for 3 weeks
- Write out 100 lines