How to Handle Bad Student Behavior – The 5 Most Difficult to Deal With

It is normal for teachers to come across at least one student with difficult behavior. Not only this is stressful but annoying for the entire class, as well. How to handle bad student behavior is extremely challenging as you do not know every single thing that the learner is dealing with in life, which often is the source of the different behavior.

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Extreme student behavior can be a daunting experience, but it is your role to address them no matter how small. A skillful balance of strategies can help you de-escalate unacceptable behaviors before they grow unguided.

When a student misbehaves, you never would want to say something you’ll regret later. You want students to feel better in your class, instead. The tips and suggestions below may require a great deal of energy, but responding with kindness is the key to clearly telling the student that there is no room for grave misconduct in your classroom.


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How to Handle Bad Student Behavior 

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1) The Disrespectful 

Disrespectful students show words and actions in a way that doesn’t align with classroom rules and standards. This behavior is the opposite of being kind, considerate, and polite.

Being rude or mean can depend on how the student grew up where one is used to talking back, not doing the thing being asked to do, or simply is fond of retaliating. This can come to situations where you feel like wanting to lash out. But you want to manage misconduct appropriately.

This is helpful:

When the student says or does something disrespectful, remain calm and casually end it right away.

Incorporating humor like “You’re not okay Steph, are you? Then do it with a smile, or “Debbie, I’m 60 years old (even if you’re not) and I can’t afford another wrinkle so help me out and save that for after class okay?”

Such charm has the power to naturally take the student’s defenses down and dissolve the tension. Read more tips on dealing with disrespectful behavior in the classroom.


2) The Defiant Behavior

These students are resistant you see them talking back to the teacher or refusing to do as the teacher requests. They will go as far as they can to be in control. Their disposition to challenge or refuse is typically to protect themselves from being rejected by getting attention. Since what they like to see is you giving up on them, this behavior can truly push your limits.

This is helpful:

Assign tasks or classroom responsibilities where the student gets a lot of attention such as being a group leader in your class activities. Allow the student to help you write some illustrations on the board, collect assignments, lead the prayer, or anything that makes him/her important.

When giving instructions, it’s more prompting to say “do this.” Saying “don’t do this” opens defiance and sparks a possibility of resistance instead of having the student do the task. This recognition offers the feeling of being valued and trusted by you and the class that can boost the feeling of belongingness.


3) The Disruptive Behavior

Since a disruptive behavior is uncooperative, persistent, and usually arguing about small and unimportant things – the student becomes troublesome. Like defiant behavior, disruptive is caused by the combination of frustration and anger that likewise seeks time and attention.

This is helpful:

Give time to speak with the student. Discuss how school or classroom rules make everything smooth and how he/she can be a part of making things in order. Normally, this student turns out well when allowed to think and shine. For example, ask him/her questions such as “What do you think is the best thing in this situation?”

Make the student the star of your examples to show that behaving differently makes him/her cause trouble. Instead of enforcing strict obedience to authority, being friendly and open during your talk offers a bigger room for change with the student feels included in creating rules for the classroom.


4) The Lying Behavior

This is the most challenging as students may tell a lie to avoid punishment or gain reward, just for fun, or to protect others. Students might not also realize that he is lying because how he sees things is different from you.

However, being lied to puts you in a boiling situation because you don’t know whether the student is telling the truth or not. One may say his tasks are done only to find out it’s not true. He often offers irrelevant information leaving you or the class hanging.

These students need to feel better about themselves and find consolation in telling lies. The worst is when he/she succeeds in provoking you into anger.

This is helpful:

The distinction comes down to how to recognize a student’s intent through telltale signs in the face, eyes, and voice of the liar. Addressing the lie through direct confrontation may be the best option, but do it in a way that looks at both sides of the coin.

Avoid the term “liar” so you make it comfortable for them to speak up. To enforce the truth on your side, only approach a student when you know the truth. Let empathy and kindness be the kindest guide. If you’re still not sure, give a neutral response like “Okay, thanks for being open… I will look into that.” 


5) The Bully

Students who bully want to be in control by intimidating others including their teacher – you. This may be because they don’t have the strength, they are less popular, want to seek revenge (bully back), try to climb the social ladder, or are plainly different.

Having a bully in the classroom can affect the performance of other students. It can throw anxiety, feelings of sadness, unsafe feelings, and loss of interest in school activities they used to enjoy. They can even bring this built low-esteem and deal with it every day.

What can help:

Make sure that bully students are aware that you’re watching. Empower the rest of your class to speak up and take a stand when being oppressed. This ends up bullying.

Teachers are more powerful in protecting every student from bullies. This means you must not only identify instances of bullying but must also be able to create a warm culture of respect, friendliness, and decorum in your classroom.


Learn more strategies for managing difficult behavior. Watch this video.



Like it or not, handling student behavior is one big part of being a teacher. The good news is if you learn the right skills, it doesn’t have to be the worst part but an opportunity to shine.

These learners want attention but are actually acting like that’s the last thing they want. The long-term solution is to look at the student with the negative behavior as an individual and develop techniques to stop behaviors before they begin.

No one is perfect and you as the teacher are there to help them address issues. It may take time for them to see your care and love, but constant care and attention will eventually have the students trust you for making them feel important.

You might want to add more to the list? We appreciate it if you could share them in the comments.