How to Deal with Disrespectful Students in the Classroom – 6 Best Tips

Has a student ever challenged your authority in the classroom? As a teacher, you want to manage rude situations and misconduct appropriately. Look at these helpful strategies on how to deal with disrespectful students in the classroom. Now you are ready.

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In every class, there is likely one or more students with annoying behavior. Dealing with such situations requires a knack for saying the right thing at the right time. The reason why students misbehave is something to seriously consider for teachers to be able to handle the situation with subtlety.


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How to Deal with Disrespectful Students in the Classroom 

Your opinion on disrespectful or “mean” behavior depends on how you grew up or socialize with other people. To be able to communicate expectations with your students, you have to determine what “mean” behavior in the campus setting is.

Students may get carried away and become more aggressive in their behavior if not managed appropriately. You don’t want to lose the battle when that happens. 


The Teacher, Kitsch, Humor, Teacher, Profession

When students disrespect you, choose to remain calm.


Resist the urge to snap, scold, or get even. Instead, make the student understand that it is his or her misbehavior you dislike, not him or her.

Unfortunately, students do things that teachers do not expect or have prepared for. There’s no other way to deal with the worst than to be calm. It will put you out of awkwardness for showing authority.

Students, of course, know that you’re not a part of their issues, but showing that you are affected can make them assume how easy it is to put you into their spell. If you frown, sigh desperately, tighten your jaw, or close your fist; it can make you look funny in their eyes.

Not escalating things means you’re not adding to the problem. Forget about your mind telling you about how the class would think: “Oh no! he just got away with it?” or “The teacher can’t do anything to stop the bad behavior!”

It may sound like losing but it’s part of classroom management where discipline is about helping a student manage themselves better.


There’s a command in ending it as soon as possible. For example, “That’s enough, Meghan” in a poised voice while recognizing the name of the student. If it’s a child you’re dealing with, your words could go like “Is my little boy tired today? Come, let’s sit down.” 

Not uttering a word by just maintaining eye contact for a few seconds will give you enough time to compose yourself. Your reluctance to react will lead the student to lose confidence. For the sake of the rest of the class, continue the things you’re doing. If you’re in the middle of a lecture, proceed. This way, you dominate the situation without stooping to shameful behavior. 

Such instances are short-term. But beware as entertaining the qualms might end you exchanging words with the student. Note that the moment you try to win with words, you are submitting to the student’s game. The worst thing is when he or she gets the last word.

Ending it on the spot shows that you choose not to engage. Putting an end to something unacceptable is a strong response that shows you remain in control.

domino effect


Some teachers find it relieving to respond with something positive like good humor. You can say, “Aw, you needed a hug.” While this calls for the rest of the class to laugh, somehow your response shows that you’re not affected.

Interceding right away addresses a problem behavior as soon as it starts to boil. While there is no quick fix to managing teenagers who are oppositional, bringing difficult students close to you can decrease the intensity of their negative behavior. The key is to implement your approaches becomingly by being consistent with your actions and firm on your counsel.

The golden rule is not to do anything that will worsen the situation. Intervening can remind the student of the classroom rules and may start to slow down without being harsh.


When the student is calm, it’s perfectly right to approach him or her and talk in private. Here, you can convey whatever consequence there is according to your rules or the school’s policy. Talk in a soft voice. Addressing the problem by talking about the attitude instead of attacking the student, conveys a touch of understanding. 

You will feel a sense of fulfillment when you get the student to speak up. It’s even fulfilling to see the teenager come to class the next day well-behaved. Your class will conclude that you as their teacher have handled things well.

Generally, logical reasoning lessens undesirable behaviors. Remaining courteous in the midst of hostility shows that you understand the student’s feelings. The more you respect a problem child’s right to be understood, the more you make him or her feel valued as an individual.

A boy writing on the board with teacher watching


Everybody feels good when forgiven. The same is true with disrespectful students – the absence of vengeful feelings decreases levels of anxiety, depression, and stress. It replaces acceptance that leads to trust.

Remember, the main functions of misbehavior are avoidance, attention, power or control, and habit.  Chances are, that the disrespectful behavior is a habit a student is used to at home or simply a plain quick reaction. They may just be trying to communicate but misunderstood.

Your kind words and actions (even after the incident) will prove that you’re not taking things personally. Your gesture portrays a good role model. When you incorporate a verbal, written, and modeling approach, you are teaching the benefits of being respectful as well.

Perhaps you need to be more demonstrative in showing that you care. This can challenge the student to recognize and fix any harm he or she may have caused.


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Giving rewards for good behaviors is not only for kindergarten but for high schoolers, as well.

For example, surprise students with a rewarding day by giving extra points to those who have been very cooperative, friendly, helpful, or creative. What about letting the “chosen students” choose their prizes from your list or basket? There are things you don’t have to buy. Here, your creativity is challenged.

Students observe proper conduct when rewarded in a natural way. It increases motivation, boosts self-esteem, makes them happy, and helps them do their tasks and homework. Most of all, it helps improve their performance both in school and at home.

When you recognize students, it creates trust that builds a stronger relationship. The more motivated they are, the more belonged they feel. Most people respond to being treated well and will reciprocate by treating you and others the same.

I’m sure you have a lot of ideas about this reward system. Many of you are probably already using rewards to help students do their best.

What do you think of this sample video of a teacher and student argument?


The Secret 

It’s easy to take disrespect personally when you’re presented with it – which is a typical reaction from any dedicated educator. Responding with kindness is clearly telling the student that there is no way he or she can ever provoke you to anger.

When a student is disrespectful to you, you never would want to say something you’ll regret later so it’s best not to add fire in the heat of the moment. It sounds like you lose the battle, but the willingness to put the fire away doesn’t mean you’re literally a “loser” but as an educator means winning the situation.

Isn’t that one strong example you want your students to emulate? They will never forget such a good deed and will remember you in the name of order, peace, and happiness.


1) Why do students talk back?

There are various reasons why students are talking back. Some simply want attention. Others do that to test how strong is your patience, and how much they can get away with. There are also students who have more serious issues like being abused or neglected at home and want to get noticed and they find consolation by showing dominance. Others also find it a way to gain a sense of control and pride.

2) What causes students to be disrespectful?

Disrespectful behavior in students is most of the time a result of their environment. In many instances, they have not been taught how to demonstrate kindness and respect. Rudeness is oftentimes a reflection of not knowing what to do. Normally, it happens when a student’s thinking doesn’t align with the way others think.

3) What causes disrespect?

While a big factor can be the cultural and generational background, other components are gender biases, violence, and various influencing moods. Sometimes it has something to do with ailment or impairment, abuse, and personality disorder. All these disrupt an individual’s mood and ability to harmonize in the school or workplace.

Do you have anything to add to these tips? Share your thoughts in the comments.


  1. Amy September 20, 2021
    • Oscar September 20, 2021