• Lia Stoll

7 Time-Tested Responses to Challenging Classroom Behaviour

Angry girl in classroom

With a deep sigh, you enter the classroom. Another Monday. Another explosive class to survive.

You’re afraid of kids with earsplitting voices and paralyzing energy.

While sipping your coffee, you skim through your notebook — the best classroom management strategies.

But guess what.

Nothing feels right.

You don’t want hysterical adult screaming. You don’t want abusive discipline.

You want to empower your students, touch them with your words, and jump-start them to believe in themselves.

So, how can you create a smooth, enjoyable teaching experience, and make your classroom the desert water hole your students crave?

Let’s explore seven ways.

1. What Would Happen If You Changed Your Attitude?

Negative thinking is like a giant wall. It keeps you from engaging and blocks you from moving forward to create a respectful relationship.

That’s why — students do well if they want to —attitude, is a relationship killer. Try — students do well if they can — and let it guide you.

So, what's the secret?

Encourage a positive attitude to guide your beliefs, actions, and communication. It will instantly boost your student-teacher relationship.

2. Do you know what keeps your student-teacher relationship from getting better?

Negative communication can spread and destroy like wildfire. Try empathy-based communication to deal with conflict.

When arguments hit the high decibel range, get ahead of the noise and use empathy to communicate.

Research shows, teachers who cultivate empathy manage students’ behaviour better. Try it. You will be amazed by the results.

3. Do you know the most important problem for your students?

Every student is different. Trouble is, they all share a common problem; understanding what makes their behaviour challenging.

Challenging behaviour creeps up the moment your expectations and demands outstrip the skills students have to respond. Act as a mirror, help them understand their BIG emotions. Show them how to handle stress better, find strength in resilience, and understand and manage their emotions.

Support them in working out the skills they lack.


Imagine your brain is a house.

The upstairs is your 'thinking brain'.

The downstairs is your ' feeling brain'.

The upstairs brain helps you understand your emotions, focus, concentrate, and make decisions.

The downstairs brain helps you feel emotions like happiness, sadness or anger, and be aware of potential dangers.

You see, when you're overwhelmed with emotions your downstairs brain takes over and your thinking brain shuts down.

Now when you're downstairs brain is in charge it's hard to:

  • make great decisions

  • learn & remember

  • think things through

So how do you help your brain find its balance?

First, recognise the body signs showing your feeling brain is in charge.

Then, use techniques like deep breathing to calm down and help your thinking brain turn on.

I know what you're thinking.

It's easier said than done.

So, often parents and teachers feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and disheartened.


It doesn't have to be this way.

Sure doing things differently takes courage and effort.

But the truth?

Kids with challenging attitudes aren’t pissing you off on purpose.

Instead, they lack the life-changing skills they need to regulate emotions.

Skills like:

  • flexibility

  • adaptability

  • emotion regulation

  • frustration tolerance

  • problem-solving

Your kids don’t need time-out or detention.

They don't need hitting.

Be warned:

These cruel actions push them away to a cold, dark place.

Instead, kids need parents and teachers who know how to collaborate with them, how to help solve the problems that are causing their challenging behaviours, with them.

That's why you're here.

Understand how lagging skills set the stage for challenging behaviour. Then, like a warm hug, comfort and make them feel safe.

4. What happens when you combine love with accessibility?

Miserable experience with adults makes trusting teachers hard. Try to get to know and like your students.

Show you’re available and responsive. It’ll help build the foundation for a great student-teacher relationship.

Take time to care. Why not attend extracurricular activities featuring your students? It means something when teachers take time to visit an activity they’re involved in.

5. What would happen if you teamed up with your students?

Students dread time with teachers and avoid it like the plague. But, they need a strong personal connection to do their best.

Learning is personal and emotional, and leaves students wrestling with the stresses of school. To be effective meet with students one on one.

Students crave a deeper more personal connection. A one to one interview can help you learn about them and revolutionize your classroom.

6. Do you know why ‘annoying’ classroom behaviour drives you mad?

Childhood triggers. They are like the air we breathe; invisible but all around us. Become aware and time yourself out.

Turn the spotlight away from the ‘annoying behaviour’ to your own emotions and untangle them.

Make the change from personal to situational  because  there’s a big difference between thinking my students are disruptive by disposition versus thinking they’re feeling disruptive at the moment. Don't you think?

7. What would happen if you let go of classroom management?

Imagine two teachers teaching the same lesson. One is impatient, the other supportive.

Which one inspires you?

As you can see, building positive relationships is a foolproof way to stop behaviour problems. The more students know and respect you, the more they will cooperate.

I find using a journal can help review, gain perspective and abandon the “perfect teacher” image.

Invigorate Your Students

By now you may feel like things have gotten away from you.

You may wonder how to get back on track — or whether that’s even possible.

That’s normal.

But, imagine a classroom where students come to you.

Imagine a classroom where students trust you with their worries, fears, and challenges.

Come on.

Dare to change your classroom to the desert water hole your students crave.

And, let your empathy shine, sparkle, and glow.

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