How to Handle Misbehaving Students in the Classroom

How to Handle Misbehaving Students in the ClassroomHow to Handle Misbehaving Students

There can be nothing more frustrating to a teacher than a class of students who refuse to behave. From dealing with students who don't wait to be called on to more serious misbehavior, figuring out how to deal with misbehaving students takes a toll on any teacher. Fortunately, utilizing the right strategies can make it easier to put an end to these classroom issues, keep it from spreading around the class, and help to turn your day around.

Understanding Misbehavior

Typically, students don't misbehave simply because they can. There are a wide range of reasons behind misbehavior, and understanding what's motivating the student to misbehave will go a long way toward improving your ability to handle the situation. Ask yourself two questions: "What is the child hoping to gain through the misbehavior?" and, "Why is the student behaving this way?"

Understanding the root of the misbehavior is critical to managing it appropriately. As they learn how to manage social behavior, they make mistakes, get carried away, and test their limits to see what the response will be from the adults around them. By using the misbehavior as an opportunity, it's possible to help teach students to behave just as they learn other, more academic skills in the classroom environment.

Related: The simple secret strategy to improve concentration and focus.

Strategies for Correcting Misbehavior

Utilizing the right strategies is a critical step in correcting misbehavior and preventing it from occurring in the future. First and foremost, teachers and other adults must maintain empathy throughout the process. A misbehaving child is often not deliberately "bad"--and how a teacher responds can have a significant impact on them in the future.

Build a relationship with the child. The cliche goes, "A child doesn't care what you know until they know that you care." In a classroom this is true! A child is more likely to behave for a teacher who genuinely cares about them and with whom they have a relationship than for one who seems to be cold and aloof. Try displaying a personal interest in each of your students every day--especially in those who seem to struggle more with behavior issues.

Related: See how to encourage an active and engaged classroom.

Give struggling children responsibilities and leadership roles. Help them direct their energies toward a positive solution, rather than a negative one.

Drop the grudge. Don't take student actions personally. It's not a commentary on their opinion of you or your relationship, nor is misbehavior a personal affront. By dropping the grudge, you can often deal more effectively with the child in question and identify the root cause of the behavior more quickly.

Use the right discipline strategies. How you choose to discipline a misbehaving child can make a big difference. Try some of these strategies and reminders:

  • • Correct the child quietly, away from their peers. This can prevent them from feeling a need to continue acting out in an effort to prove something to their friends.
  • • Give children control over the situation. When possible, including providing choices that direct them towards a positive change in behavior.


• Make sure to reprimand the behavior, not the child: misbehavior does not necessarily equal a bad kid.

  • • Be firm. Knowing how to handle misbehaving students means being unwilling to negotiate. Once consequences are issued, they'll have to be lived with.


Understanding how to handle misbehaving students is a critical part of being a successful teacher. Simply by having kids with too much energy stand up at a standing desk for an afternoon can turn the whole day around. By utilizing these strategies, you can make it easier to handle even the worst offenders in your classroom and keep your day on track.

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