How to Handle Bad Student Behavior

A classroom brings together all sorts of students, both well and badly behaved. The latter need special attention to usher them back on the path to good behavior. If you’re having a tough time with certain students in your class, try out the following strategies.

1. Bring difficult students close to you

Students at front of classroom

Bring badly behaved students close to you. That is meant quite literally.

In a classroom setting, you’ll often find that the noisemakers and stubborn elements tend to sit at the back of the class, which offers anonymity and gives confidence to misbehave. Sitting such students at the opposite end of the room, somewhere close to the teacher’s desk, makes them easily stand out and deters such actions.

2. Talk to them in private

Calling out students in front of the class rarely proves helpful. It can breed resentment and further indiscipline. Also, don’t blame or reduce students in front of their friends. Rather, ask him/her to see you after the lesson, when you can look to find out the underlying reason behind the behavior.

– Reasons for bad behavior –

Acting up can be indicative of family problems back home. For example, the child’s parents may have divorced, meaning he or she is dealing with the challenge of co-parenting arrangements or being separated from a parent. Conflict can arise because issues to do with contact time and child support. Try to hold back from judgment since the misbehaving child could be going through some very difficult times in the background.

Children also misbehave out of a perceived need to impress peers. You could tackle that with a real-life example of how acting out in class is not the best solution. Rather, talking it out at the appropriate time is. While you’re at it, be sure to explain why what they did is wrong and the negative consequences of such actions.

3. Be the role model of the behavior you want

Enforcing rules in a classroom is hard if you don’t follow them yourself. Besides having clear policies or rules in place, you should be the first to practice what you preach. Otherwise, students will be inclined to follow your examples instead of your words. If you reprimand students for lateness, for example, be early every day.

4. Define right from wrong

At times, especially when dealing with young children, students might not know what constitutes unacceptable class behavior. They might know that playing “PokemonGo” in class is wrong or reading “Cinderella” in the middle of a lesson is not allowed. Help make the line between right and wrong clear to them.

5. Focus more on rewards than punishments

Students trying to avoid punishment is an effective strategy to ensure everyone is on their best behavior. But rewards are a more productive approach over the long run. Dangling the lure of incentives to students often gives them that push to, not only steer clear of rule infringements, but put their best foot forward.

Rewards could be anything from candy, a stuffed toy, or simple compliments to acknowledge their efforts. You can also make classroom activities so engaging that students don’t want to disrupt what is happening.

6. Adopt the peer tutor technique

No matter how friendly and accommodating you may try to be, sometimes a misbehaving student needs the shoulder of a peer to lean on. That person could be someone going through the same life experiences or simply a non-authoritative figure.

Using the peer tutor technique, you pair the well-behaved student (the “tutor”) with one not so well-behaved. While they are working on polishing their academics, the “learner” can also be getting a lesson on proper personal skills. It’s prudent you talk to the mentoring student and explain to him/her what you aim to accomplish and what he/she can do to help.

7. Try to understand

Sometimes, a student may be construed to be rude when they are actually abiding by a cultural practice or tradition. In some cultures, for example, it is prohibited to look adults in the eye. So when you’re telling a student to do so and is looking away or down at the ground, it might have something to do with that.

Before you straight away label any action as bad behavior, first get to the root of the matter. For all they know, you may be asking them to do something contrary to what they believe is right or proper.

Last, but certainly not least, never give up on a seemingly stubborn student who looks determined to work your every nerve. Don’t let up on the good fight until it is won. Sometimes that takes minutes, other times it takes weeks. Be patient and never let your frustrations get the better of you.