MGH Home SchoolPsychiatry Home Page
School-Based Interventions : Depression
Interventions for Irritable Mood

  1. Address irritability with brief (two-three word), low volume cues

    "That sounds unfriendly." "Makes me feel pessimistic".
  2. Model appropriate responses to replace irritable responses

    If the student makes a sarcastic remark when irritated, provide an alternative, appropriate comment: "I know you have something important to say, and I want to hear it, but I can't hear your point when you use sarcasm. It sounds like your point (without sarcasm) is _______. Could you please say your point again without relying on sarcasm?"
  3. Help the student identify what led to his/her irritability and identify possible alternative responses

    When the student is calm, examine preceding events leading to the irritable comment and suggest an appropriate reframing of the comment. "You're bugging me" can be reframed as "I can't focus right now--can I please do that task in five minutes?"
  4. Allow the student to take him/herself out of a situation (self-timeout) when irritability is starting to disrupt others

    Provide specific steps for the student to remove him/herself from situations ("I [student)] feel myself getting frustrated, so I am going to leave this kickball game and swing on the swings for five minutes. After I watch others, and think I understand what I'm supposed to do, I'll try kickball again.")
  5. Allow the student to stop an activity and resume it later when calm

    Provide an extended time schedule for the student to complete several tasks. If one task is frustrating, he/she can start the frustrating task when more assistance is available or when he/she is more alert and better able to complete the task.
  6. If the student is in a group activity, allow the student to work independently, then rejoin the group

    Divide group work into components, so the student can do a specific task (count out the piles of Legos, find the main events in one paragraph) and contribute to the group.
  7. Provide opportunities for the student to "fix" problems or inappropriate classroom behaviors

    Allow the student a chance to "redo" with an appropriate comment or behavior; if the student tears up paper, allow him/her to tape it together. top
    ©2010 Massachusetts General Hospital, School Psychiatry Program and MADI Resource Center
    Copyright | Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Department of Psychiatry  | Site Map