The Unruly Student: Tips on Managing Difficult Behavior

Occasionally, you may come across unforeseen, problematic behavior when you’re teaching. How you react and deal with the situation is important. Your students are constantly watching you and they’ll pick up on your reactions and apply them to situations that occur when they’re babysitting.

But how do you manage students? There’s a little phrase that you teach your students that also pertains to you: “Stay in control of yourself. Stay in control of the children.” You must always remain levelheaded, no matter what happens.

If a behavioral issue does arise, it’s strongly suggested that you use the same tips you teach students to guide you: provide comfort, distract, give choices, make a game, when…then, and take a break/start over:

  • Provide comfort to a student who’s acting out by trying to ascertain why he’s acting out. Is he hungry, bored, or tired? Remember to give students short breaks periodically. You can ask them to stand up and stretch, play a quick game of Hokey Pokey, or invite them to get a drink of water from a nearby water fountain.
  • Distract a rowdy student from her bad behavior. For example, ask her to help hand out materials.
  • Give an unruly student choices. When you allow for a break, you can let him pick the exercise. You might ask if he wants to do jumping jacks or stretch.
  • Offer a student a “when…then” solution. Give her motivation. If she’s having a hard time being patient during skills practice, you might say, “When everyone has had their turn, then we can take a short break.”
  • Take a break and start over. If a student becomes overly competitive or threatening during a game, perhaps it’s a good time for that student to step away for a few minutes. Allow the student to take control over his emotions and gather himself. Then, after some time has passed, ask him to come back to the group and try again.

Remember, as young teens, your students get restless and need to move around throughout the day. Make sure you’re utilizing the games and activities provided in the curriculum.  The games are rooted in our program so students can actively participate and physically move around a bit. Both the games and skills practice allow students to review the content while still having fun.

Applying the behavior aid tips may help solve the problem of dealing with an unruly student. However, if a student continually disrupts your class, don’t hesitate to remove him, call his parents, and suggest that he take the class again when he’s more serious about it.

Finally, always respect your students and remain sensible if a problem situation does arise. Remember that even misbehaving young teens are sensitive, so you’ll want to avoid embarrassing them in front of their peers if you must correct their behavior. Safe Sitter® classes are meant to be enjoyable and insightful for all students. Do your best to manage classroom behavior so everyone can have fun!

Jennifer Seward

Jennifer Seward

Jennifer has an M.A. in English and years of nonprofit experience. As a writer and former newspaper reporter, she gravitated toward the nonprofit world because she enjoys the vast and inspiring storytelling opportunities found there.
Jennifer Seward