This one is seriously one of my favorite strategies to teach students of all ages (and adults).  It is a way to describe your emotional state when you are feeling less-than-perfect.  Since I am an adult, I use HALTED to dissect how I am feeling.  My husband will attest to the fact that I am not myself when I am feeling "H" - hungry.  I know I am not myself when I am feeling "T" - tired.  Since little O is young, I think of HALTED when she is acting out-of-sorts or experiencing a melt-down.  I run through the acronym in my mind to figure out what is driving her behavior and in doing so, I am able to better help her.

Ready to HALT yourself?

Are you feeling....

H - Hungry?
A - Angry?
L - Lonely?
T - Tired?
E - Embarrassed?
D - Disappointed?

Some days I think, HALTED-OS might also be helpful:

O - Overwhelmed?
S - Scared?

I would love to give credit to the student who taught me HALT a decade ago.  Since that time, my college students and I have added the ED and OS parts.

Do you have other tools that help humans express their emotions or at least recognize their emotional state?  Daniel Goleman has said the first part of emotional intelligence is self-awareness. 

With HALTED, we are on our way.


PS - I think little O might be ready to be formally taught the acronym.  The other morning she woke up incredibly cranky.  For at least five minutes she was giving me a hard time about nothing.  Then, I ran through the acronym in my mind and said, "Are you hungry?"  I didn't even need to get to the other letters because she agreed, she was hungry.  I ran to the kitchen, grabbed a string cheese, she devoured it and was a new person in minutes.  The rest of our morning was enjoyable.


  1. I think there is a KEY letter missing...the letter B for bored. Much as I wish I could be 100% the most engaging teacher (re: today for crazy hair day I started just sticking stuff around me into my incredibly absurd hair do, including a water bottle, a roll of tape, and a plastic spoon), but I admit that sometimes I might be BORING. Then, students feel less than wonderful and drama ensues.

    It might be interesting to use "HALTED" as a warm-up, but instead of giving them halted, have students create an acronym (maybe for their name) with emotions they are feeling as they enter the classroom.

    Mine-- Exhausted, Lazy, Inept at figuring out how to log on to blackboard, Z (there's never a Z) and Anxious to eat more cookies

    Not the best, but I think it would be a good way to gauge students' feelings/ attitudes as they walk in the door.

  2. E - You are one of the most creative commenters. I really like your idea about converting your name into emotions.

    I am stumped on some "Z" words, you're right. Perhaps, HALTED-OS does need a "B" for those unengaged students.

    Hmmmm, I'm thinking....


  3. I would also like to add one: Anxious. I find that anxiety can be a huge hurdle in emotional well being. I think a good way to use HALTED in the classroom is to go through the letters of the acronym and have students draw each emotion. (I'm an artist, can you tell?) This will get their creative juices going and will allow you to view how they personally interpret and express the emotion.

    Rebekah H.

  4. I love HALTED and have turned it in to velcro pieces for an autistic student I work with. So many special education students become stuck in the land of disequilibrium, and from their lack of communication, HALTED is a great way to help direct them out of this land. One might say they are stuck in disequilibrium because of learning reasons, but other times I tend to see that it's not.
    Lucy A

  5. HALTED is a good method to incorporate in the classroom. If a student is feeling hungry, angry, lonely, tired, embarrassed or disappointed they will be unable to concentrate and learn. The teacher should be able to notice if the student is not performing as usual and acknowledge the issue. I will definitely consider this method when I become a teacher. This is another tool in my tool box :)

    Ana V.

  6. As you mentioned above this is a great tool for tapping into Daniel Goleman's five dimensions of emotional intelligence. Not only for self-awareness but the others as well. Understanding why your off course (self-awareness) can lead to you correcting your balance (self-control & self-motivation). Since you shared HALTED with us in class I have used it so many times! Not only on myself but family and friends as well. HALTEDing others can lead to stronger relationship skills and empathy, rounding out Goleman's five dimensions.

  7. As the Christmas season gets closer, my autistic students are experiencing more anxiety and agitation. The black and white ordered world they've created for themselves is being interrupted by the soft, calming notes of 'Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer'. I think as I begin to see them spinning out of control or becoming agitated,it would be helpful if they could use HALTED as a sort of touchstone to get them back on track.

    Elise T.

  8. For a new teacher, like myself, HALTED is a great tool to use when you are trying to figure your students out. In a time sensitive classroom, it is difficult to spend too much time solving each student’s individual needs. However, using HALTED can assist in getting to the bottom of a more simple problem.

    I like that HALTED isn’t just for the classroom. This tool can be used in various setting. I used HALTED at my friends house the other day. My friend’s three-year-old son wasn’t happy, and as any three year old would do, he threw a tantrum. I could see mom was starting to lose her cool, so I HALTED him. It turned out he was tired. I got him into my lap, rocked him back and forth, and he fell asleep. It really is a great tool for teachers and parents.

    Patricia L.

  9. HALTED-OS is a simple, amazing strategy! I remember you talking about it briefly in 'Intro to Special Education' but did not fully embrace it until this time around. It has, literally, changed the way I interact with my 4 year old. When he gets upset (and he gets very upset) instead of reacting to his behavior, I now immediately halt him. I either go through the list in my head and determine what is wrong, or I narrow it down and ask him. It is so simple. I can't believe I didn't do this before. While doing my fieldwork I saw a few students who, had they been HALTED, would have avoided much strife during the class. And yes, I have had to halt myself on several occasions; i get very cranky when I am hungry.

  10. Another technique I learned in my teaching strategies class is community meetings. With this concept, the teacher facilitates a discussion first thing in the morning before attempting to teach any concepts. The meeting doesn't have to be longer than 10 minutes. Topics could include how the students's night was, how their weekend was, favorite foods, activities completed since the last session or that will be completed in the near future, and any questions, comments, or suggestions the student may have about the class so far. This is a great way to detect negative attitudes in the beginning and the perfect time to overcome them. Once everyone has had a say and feels included, the day can begin.

  11. This defeintely can link up with emotional intelligence !Hello self awareness!! I know we have almost every letter as reasons for meltdowns (adult and child) in our house at one time or another. It really helps me as a parent to not spin out of control just because the kids are out of control. I now can be more rational about it. I have yet to figure out how to fix "angry" but it rarely happens.

  12. HALTED is a great way to figure out the reasons behind behavior. With most peole treating the behavior and not the child it would be easy to punish students for their behavior and not even realize that they might be hungry or tired...etc. Figuring out what causes the behavior is so important! (Can you tell I started to read Alfie Kohn?) Lets give students (and our own children) the benefit of the doubt that they are not just acting out to be mean... there is somehting going on behind it, and sometimes they don't even know what it is themselves. HALTing students (or having them halt themselves) lets them know that you are trying to help and that you care.

    Emillee C.

  13. I had not heard of this coping mechanism before your class and I got to say it is awesome! This is a simple way to teach any child with behavioral and/or emotional issues to improve their self-concept. I love it!! I agree there could be more letters added especially anxiety (considering the spike in reports of anxiety) but I think more letters would make it more complicated. From what I have learned in your class, simple strategies are easier to learn especially when dealing with children with special needs.
    Jo G.

  14. When we talked about this in class i could not get enough of it. This is my motto probably 5 days out of the week. Especailly with finals i'm always trying to figure out which of these steps i need that will help me through my day and get me back on track. Also, this could be great for children in the classrooms. There is always going to be an individual not off on the right foot for the day and HALTED-OS could get them back on track!

    -Carrie W.

  15. I like this idea because most kids are not able to express how they are feeling. I know that I am one of them. So for a teacher who is trying to figure out what is wrong, they are able to go here and go word for word until the student says what is bothering them. I think it helps students learn how to express what is really bothering them.

  16. As a first-year school counselor, I love this trick, and now I'm teaching it to parents, too. I like the original HALT best, and I think it makes sense to give teachers and parents the flexibility to change the meanings of the letters to suit their child's individual needs. For example, A could be Anxious or Afraid instead of Angry. T could be Troubled or Timid instead of Tired. I'm wary of adding too many more letters because it decreases the impact and the beautiful simplicity of this tool. Thanks for a great blog!

    -- Angela

  17. Love this idea and am sharing it in my newsletter! Sharing the link to your article :) Thank you for such a great idea.

    Cindy {Socially Skilled Kids}