De-escalation: 22 Key Phrases to Try

We’ve had some wonderful feedback on our de-escalation course written by Kate Holden. In this blog post, Kate has shared a range of phrases to help you in the trickiest of moments.

Validate (use because instead of but)

  • “It makes sense that you are angry right now because the noise in the room was really getting to you.”
  • “If that had happened to me, I’d be upset too because it’s not nice when we have a fight with someone we care about.”
  • “I can see that you are feeling really agitated because we had to change our plans.”

Show Empathy

  • “This is so upsetting for you right now.  It is so tough.”
  • “You wanted to carry on playing that game because you were enjoying it.  It seems unfair that the time ran out.”
  • “It seems to you like [name] doesn’t want to know you and I know you really like [name] so it must be so confusing for you.”
  • “You are absolutely right. It is really annoying when other people wind you up.”
  • “You don’t need to explain.  I understand.”
  • “You are having a really tough time right now.  I am here when you are ready to talk.”


  • “So, what I am hearing is….”
  • “So, what you’re saying is that…”
  • “I heard…Have I got that right?”
  • “Let me see if I’ve understood you correctly.”

Be Curious

  • “I wonder if…”
  • “I’m thinking that…”
  • “I’ve noticed that…”
  • “I’m guessing that…”
  • “It seems like…”

Repair and Resolve

  • “I’m sorry that I didn’t recognise you needed help.  How can we fix that?”
  • “I know that you said and did things you didn’t mean but we got through it together.  I am still here for you.”
  • “What would you like to do now?  How can I help you?”
  • “Let’s figure out a plan for if this happens again.”

Further Learning

De-escalation: What is it and how do I do it? – on demand course

Promote Emotional Regulation in Autistic Children – on demand course