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Common Classroom Misbehaviours and Dealing With Them

How does a hassled teacher manage wayward students, particularly an entire class of them? Here's why students become angsty and how to counter that angst.

Why Students Misbehave

So, why do students get into a devoted teacher's hair? Here are a few reasons for their waywardness.

1. Attention Seeking

That bit of attention - any, as long as someone heeds their presence- is probably the top reason students misbehave. They do this in many ways.

Some will tease others or deliberately insult them. Others may be silly or speak out of turn because they know that they will get the attention they need.

Teachers fall very quickly into a 'reprimand trap" with such students. They would spot the behaviour and try to address it. What they do not realize is that the diversion is what such students want. Recalcitrant students doe00 not care as long as they get the attention they need. So, a "misbehave-reprimand" cycle is quickly established, and the problem becomes long-drawn.

2.Frustration with Coping

Some students feel the pressure of coping with academic needs. Some have kinesthetic or natural intelligence. Unfortunately for such students, society does not attach much importance to such skills. Consequently, these students would rather see themselves as "cool" or "entertaining" than expose their academic weaknesses. They act out because of frustration and to save face among their classmates.


Students like these, who aren't so academically inclined, may find it difficult to appreciate the necessity of lessons. Apart from not wanting to show that they prefer playing basketball, they display rogue behaviour when they feel bored or unmotivated to learn. Acting up is a way of showing that lessons are not fulfilling.


Misbehaviour borne out of revenge is unfortunately common. Children become vindictive towards other children because of hurt feelings and behave in the
same way to teachers to whom they hold grudges.
They believe that they can get a reprieve by getting back at those who have caused them hurt. Some rogue students may bully, while others may become passive-aggressive. The passive ones may withdraw emotionally. Revenge behaviours are hard to tame because they involve emotions.

5.A Need for Power

Some students who misbehave want to have more control in the classroom. Misbehaving makes them feel powerful. Signs of a power-hungry student include constant back-talking and a refusal to follow basic rules. This misbehaviour falls into two categories – active and passive. Active power-seeking involves throwing tantrums or displaying a negative attitude. Passive power-seeking involves being quietly non-compliant with the teacher. Power seeking students can be incredibly daunting. I've found that many of these students have experienced some trauma in their lives. These students are often anxious to regain some control of their lives, and that need for control is reflected in the classroom.

Responding to Student Misbehaviour

Knowing why a student misbehaves enables a teacher to develop ways to manage the misbehaviour. Here are a few helpful strategies for countering recalcitrance in students.

1.Attention seeking

If students want more than their fair share of attention, a teacher can quell that need by ignoring them. They can help with menial tasks in the classroom. Making small talk with errant pupils. It helps to make eye contact and smile as well.

2.Dealing with frustration

Frustration usually stems from feelings of failure or a need for change. A teacher can create growth mindsets in their students. It is possible to develop differentiated work so that the student has an opportunity to feel success. A heart to heart talk with students about their issues will help. In addition, there should be less focus on grades and more on the task.

3.Managing Power Struggles

Power struggles with students can be challenging to manage. It can be tempting to give an errant, disrespectful student a piece of one's mind.

However, we have to acknowledge that none of us enjoys being in a controlled environment like a classroom all the time. Furthermore, a power-hungry student probably had issues with having his freedom curtailed and looking for personal space. So how does a frazzled teacher manage his needs?

The first is to avoid confrontation. Don't lock horns with a student who is challenging your authority. Instead, give him more choices for doing tasks. Doing so tells him that he must meet academic needs, but you are aware of his need to make personal choices.

4.Helping the Bored Student

The bored student stretches a teacher's skills, which isn't necessarily negative. The teacher can see engaging him as a chance to grow.

A bored student tests a teacher's classroom management savvy. The teacher will have to differentiate tasks to keep learning to challenge him. If his boredom arises from a short attention span, breaking long tasks into short ones may be the solution.

5.Dealing with a vindictive student

Of course, such a student can be a teacher's nightmare. But he needn't stay that way. The best way to manage him is to look for opportunities to either reconcile with him or to help him find ways to do so with those who have hurt him.

Heart-to-heart talks may be helpful in this regard. They can turn into opportunities to teach proper expression of dissatisfaction.

While employing strategies for dealing with unruly behaviour does not guarantee success, they go a long way to building teacher assertiveness. Please put them in place to make the classroom a safe, peaceful place for all to learn and grow.


1. Xinrui Yuan How to Deal with Student Misbehaviour in the Classroom

Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology

2. Lynch, Matthew Do You Know the 13 Types of Student Misbehaviour The



Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on June 27, 2021:

Informative and you share valuable points about classroom behaviors

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on June 26, 2021:

Good points about, why the students misbehave sometimes, in the classroom! You have provided some useful suggestions to deal or respond to such situations, by the teacher!

This is an important part of teaching!

Thank you for sharing this helpful article!

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