Students Misbehavior and How it Can be Improved By: Flavia Marietto and Meghan Woodstock

All children at one time or another will misbehave.  Misbehavior occurs everyday inside and outside of classroom but the biggest question is why do our students misbehave?  There are many different reasons as to why children misbehave and it is important that as educators we understand these reasons and know how to prevent them.    Sheila Milnes once stated, “If you learn why your children misbehave, it will give you new ways to try to prevent problem behaviors” (Milnes, 2004).

Children misbehave for various reasons.  Due to many behavioral disorders, because of their lack of attention or love at home, boredom, confusion about their school work, lack of confidence, bad home life, low self esteem, need for independence, lack of social skills, lack of guidance and psychological problems or disorders.
Children are often seeking any type of attention they can receive.  Children
need to feel loved and thrive when they know that there are people who care about them.
When they do not receive the attention that all children need to receive, they tend to
act out and misbehave.  “Children need to feel that they belong to you, to
the family, to the class at school, to a group of friends. They may misbehave to gain
membership or to find out if they will still be accepted. Thus, it is important to let
children know you love them and that they are still part of the family, even when they
behave badly.”  (Richardson,     Oklahoma State University)  When children do not receive
the love and nurture that all children must receive they will do whatever they can
possibly do to receive that attention.
It is important for children to be captivated by their lessons and their work.  If they are uninterested they will look for something that will interest them.  For example, start talking with a classmate, get up and walk around, use the bathroom, tap their pen or pencil, which in turn will cause a distraction to the teacher and the classroom.
Educators must be aware that all children are different.  Children will always misbehave mo matter the age, race, or gender.  It is important that educators are knowledgeable about their students and communicate with the parents.  It is also important to have the support of parents, community, and from the school.  Children must be nurtured.  It is extremely important that children understand their expectations.  Take the time to explain all expectations.  The top two reasons why children misbehave is due to their boredom and lack of attention.

Milnes, Sheila (1994,10). Why Do Children Misbehave. Retrieved December 22,  2008, Web site:

Richardson, Deborah Why Children Misbehave. Retrieved April 5, 2009, Web site:

It is very important to try and understand why children misbehave. We must always be in tune to children’s feelings and interest level in the classroom, home life, or any behavioral and psychological problems they may have and may lead them to misbehave. This is not an easy task.  Educators are often too busy, have no patience or interest in why the children are misbehaving. They often just want the behavior to stop and punish without further investigation. This leads to further misbehavior in the future. If we, as educators, take the time to investigate the cause of children’s misbehavior, we will save ourselves a lot of time and frustration in the future and genuinely help these children succeed.

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35 responses to “Students Misbehavior and How it Can be Improved By: Flavia Marietto and Meghan Woodstock

  1. This is a very complex problem, and there are no easy answers. When I was young, I misbehaved terribly. Sure, I wanted attention, but why, and how should this have been dealt with. I think you make a good suggestion to keep schooling interesting. This is well summed up in Kelley Dawson Salas’s Chapter “The Best Discipline is a Good Curriculum” from The New Teacher Book (2004, Eds. Salas, K. D., Tenorio, R., Walters, S., & Weiss, D., Milwaukee: Rethinking Schools).

  2. I think this article does a really good job of pointing out why students might misbehave but could have gone a little more into depth on how we as teachers might address the problem. When I look back to how I acted freshman year of high school and how I treated some of the new teachers I got I would be horrified and probably really frustrated if I got students like that. Granted a lot of times it is going to be a maturity thing or something is lacking at home at home like you said, but sometimes it could be a much bigger problem. Giving students the sense that you care and you are there for them is one thing, but there are going to be, most likely, some really troubled students that are going to disrupt our classes and its important that we address it in a timely and proper manner so it doesn’t escalate and take away from the other student’s learning or worse become violent.

  3. There are so many factors that come into play when analyzing why a student is misbehaving. In the classroom it is important that the children always have a task to complete so their minds do not wonder. The boredom can be solved through a good regiment of activities throughout the lesson. In the cases where there are problems at home, etc. it can be hard for the teacher to not only recognize this as the cause of the misbehavior, it is difficult to know your boundaries when it comes to their home life. In order to get the best performance out of their students, a teacher must have a classroom that is behaved and eager to learn. One should not discipline without first getting to know the route of the problem.

  4. Misbehavior is something that teachers don’t want in the classrooms because nagging at the students will take time from the lesson. However, instead of nagging at the student we should just tell the student that you want to talk to him or her at the end of the class. Try to find out why the student is misbehaving. Sometimes talking to the student will fix things immediately. Sometimes a simple call to the parents helps a lot. Sometimes no matter what you do there are students that just want to have to much fun in school. To those students, after trying everything that you can do to help them to behave in a better way, I just simple send them to the office. Sometimes they appreciate it, they realize that they are acting up and they will try to do better. Whatever your reaction to a misbehaving child is, never keep the status of that child as a trouble maker. You should start from the beginning, like this child has not behaved badly. Give the child the opportunity to prove that he or she is capable of behaving well or at least to behave better than before.

  5. This seems to be the one thing that teachers worry about the most regarding the classroom. Any teacher can teach children the information they need to learn, but it takes a good teacher to be able to control their class and deal with misbehaving students. Many teachers think that screaming and yelling or sending their misbehaving students to the principal is the solution, or perhaps they just don’t want to deal with it. But in reality, I think it is these actions that make the situation worse. Nurturing students who misbehave is an interesting point. I think they need to feel that the teacher is not going to give up on them just because they misbehave. I also think that boredom and lack of attention being the two main causes of misbehavior makes perfect sense. It seems to be common that the kids who are very smart are also the kids who misbehave. This is why it is so important for the teacher to keep things new and fresh for their students. If teachers do their part in keeping their lessons fun and interesting, they may also be indirectly gaining control of their class as well!

  6. Having a student misbehave in your classroom can be very distracting and disruptive to a classroom. I do agree that you have to try and see where your student is coming from and they may be having problems at home. If you try to talk to them and show them you care that may help the situation. I also think it’s a good idea to make the lesson active so if student is having a difficult time, having this kind of lesson may distract them from whatever is going on.

  7. This was a good article and topic to address, because misbehavior in the classroom is so prevalent. It is important for us, as teachers, to understand the child’s misbehavior, not just punish the child for misbehaving. If there are underlying issues other than boredom or lack of attention, the problem needs to be addressed with the parents. As a result of the teacher working with the child and the parents on the problem, they can develop a solution together. Also, we as teachers need to be aware of our teaching demeanor. We need to prepare captivating lessons, which will entice our students with a desire to learn. Furthermore, one of the best remedies to prevent misbehavior from occurring would be for a teacher to establish a classroom community of equality for all students.

  8. I agree that making a lesson more interactive and engaging is a good idea to keep students from misbehaving. However, creating active lesson plans will not hinder a student’s misbehavior if they are not understanding the material being taught or are advanced. While restructuring the lessons to be engaging for the student we must also make sure they are appropriate for the child being taught since they may be too advanced for the material and find it boring, or not understand the material and be misbehaving out of frustration. We need to form some way to reach all students so they all find the material challenging, yet understandable.

  9. Yes, it is important to investigate the problem of a child before jumping to conclusions. What if the child’s parents are in the middle of a nasty divorce? And the child decided to lash out and yell at another student. As a teacher, you should take the time to think about it, and rather than punishing him on the spot, pull he/or she to the side and have a conversation. Find out why he or she did what they did. If you feel that this problem with the student continues, then maybe you should consider talking with the school guidance counselor, principle, or school psychologist for further advise on the situation.

  10. missorangesweetness

    I feel it is extremely important that students behaviors are monitored to see why students may act up in the classroom. When I did most of my observations I noticed alot of students misbehaved due to lack of discipline in the household, often students that aren’rt doing well in class lose interest leaving them very frustrated and board during class. There are many reasons why students misbehave, the list is endless but it’s up to us as teachers to see what those causes are and what we plan on doing to improve their classroom behavior.

  11. inspired2teach

    Misbehavior is such a complex problem – and it is such a general word because there are so many types and levels of misbehavior and each type and level needs to be handled differently. The task for teachers to try and minimize the misbehavior, especially from students who tend to show recurring patterns, is huge. Not all methods work for all students – the problem, many times, is as varied as the school population. I suppose poor manners or lack of respect, a lack of courtesy for others and bullying also fall into the category of ‘misbehavior’…I think that being able to ask for the assistance and advice of guidance counselors, school psychologists and principals, would be very helpful to teachers, but realistically I wonder how many teachers tend to ask for the advice of others or if many are usually trying to handle a multitude of classroom issues alone, or without the advice of others. It is so important for teachers to have support from their colleagues for such issues.

  12. I definitely think misbehavior is a huge issue. It not only disrupts the class but can really frustrate a teacher and throw off a entire day. it is so tough to deal with behavior because each student is so different. Did he misbehave because he was tired, or had a family problem. I think that is they key step to getting the ball rolling on fixing or reducing the behavior. You need to know your students and kind of put yourself in their shoes to figure out the source of the behavior issue.

  13. This article is so important to us as future teachers because we are guaranteed to have students misbehave in our classrooms at one point or another. We need to be well informed of where this is coming from, which can be a result of a combination of different factors. Students may be having issues at home or have an actual behavioral disorder. We need to be able to evaluate, understand and help our students to the furthest extent possible. This can become a huge issue if not taken care of properly or if the teacher does not know the steps to take with these students. It can prevent others from learning and can be frustrating for teachers and parents to deal with this issue.

  14. There is no such thing as a “bad” child. Students can often have behavioral issues that should be treated with sensitivity and patience. It is easy to put a student in the “misbehaved” child category but it is important to evaluate where the acting out stems from. It can often come from the home or classmates. Often, it is the kind of behavioral problems that are simply genetic and cannot be blamed on any specific party. The important thing is to treat these students with respect and understanding. Teachers should follow their IEP (pending they have one) and not allow themselves to lose their temper. Students with behavioral disorders often respond positively to educators who are able to connect with them on a deeper level. If a teacher is faced with a student who misbehaves they have options. There is negative and positive reinforcement. Also you can use the token method or extinction. I am a fan of positive reinforcement and the token method to encourage a student to behave. Every child deserves the chance to have a proper education and it is up to us as educators to believe in all students, not just the “perfectly” behaved ones.

  15. A lot of research has been conducted regarding student motivation. Abraham Maslow believed that individuals have a hierarchy of needs that range from the basic needs for survival to the needs for self-actualization. I believe being aware of these hierarchy of needs is essential for teachers. The five different steps that must be completed before the next needs are taken care of are physiological needs, safety needs, belongingness and love needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization needs. I enjoyed reading this article because I feel it is extremely important for teachers to know.

  16. This is a very important topic and one I think about often. One of the first things that a new teacher will have to deal with is classroom management and disruptive behavior. I think you don’t really know how you’ll react until you get in that situation, but I hope I can deal with the situation rationally and try to understand why the student is misbehaving.

  17. I think the most important thing to do when students are misbehaving in the classroom is to reflect on what you as a teacher could do differently to get the students attention. I think motivating students by making them curious about what they are learning is important. The classroom should be managed appropriately so chaos does not occur. I agree that students should feel love and attention in the classroom. They need to know you care otherwise why should they. I think teachers should get to know their students and try to relate to their everyday lives during lessons. I feel this will engage and motivate students to want to learn. Students need to be excited about what is going on and understand the connection to what they are learning and how it’s important to them otherwise they will not care. Therefore, I feel it is crucial for teachers to get to know their students. Teachers should know what interests and likes his/her students have and try to engage students by relating to them in the classroom.

  18. I think trying to understand why a student misbehaves is very important, but I think how a teacher reacts to a misbehaving child is even more vital to gaining control and understanding their actions. It always seemed to me that the classes that seemed the most out of control in my school years were the classes that were being run by teachers who reacted badly to misbehavior. Don’t get me wrong, there are students that, not matter how a teacher reacts, are still going to cause trouble. But finding the correct way to deal with the troublemakers and coming to a compromise might be the ultimate goal.

    Of course, in the same vein, a teacher’s lesson plan also plays a huge role in controlling misbehavior. In short, an interested child is much less likely to act out than a child who is bored and unmotivated. The objective is to grab their attention… but the key is to somehow find a way to hold it for an entire lesson.

  19. Dealing with misbehaved students seems like a real challenge for a teacher, especially a new one. This is why it is so important to have a good curriculum where the children can relate to what is being taught and not get bored and feel disconnected from the material. Of course behavior problems cannot all be solved with a good curriculum. Some kids are dealing with serious issues at home that the teacher may not be aware of. It is important to keep an eye on the behaviors of your students. It is important to talk to their previous teachers and the parents. I think there is always going to be the few students that will misbehave all year and it is important as a teacher to try and help them as much as you can and not just ignore it and hope it goes away.

  20. I definitely agree that you need to understand your children and build relationships and have a support system with parents, and the school system. Many children misbehave for many reasons. It’s up to the teacher to find out why, instead of just assuming that the child is just a bad kid. As a teacher you need to understand the students, their home situations, what interests they have, etc. If you can appeal to the child you have a much better chance at reaching them and having them feel better in the classroom.
    It’s also important for the child to feel comfortable. It’s the teachers job to create a community in the classroom in which the students feel safe and can talk freely without being made to feel bad. Teeachers have very complicated jobs that go beyond teaching a child new information. A teacher needs to be a teacher, a parent, a counselor, a friend. It’s very difficult to do all of this, however, if a teacher can do this then he/she will be able to reach the students.

  21. For the last few years I have sat in a classroom and listened to many professors, some good, some bad, lecture and teach. I have listened to the lessons on differentiated instruction as well as teaching to standards, but I may have just realized something. I was just listening! We all go to school for one reason or another, but we may not realize the reason why. I have a crazy idea. Just throwing it out there no one will listen, no one has to pay me any attention, or for that matter even pay me, but think about it! Why don’t we not only listen, but also hear our students? They may complain about this and that, which we don’t agree with but if we rarely take the time and listen. Who knows what may happen? I’ll be the first to say that this can, and will be tough but who knows it may work. These children/students feel ignored and for good reason. Every person has something that drives them, who knows : you, me, or someone else may be able to find that source

  22. I agree with most of the comments made here. We have to design a lesson plan that is interactive and exciting that will foster students engagement in the classrooms. We do have to monitor all students, but as teachers you have to take the time out to investigate and take note of the changes in a student. There are many reasons why students misbehave, that’s why it is important that we not rush to judge so quickly then punish. There are many ways to combat this issue, it will not happen overnight? No, but as teachers, we have to try and find various ways to keep the students engaged during classtime as well as finding outside resources to assist if all else fails.

  23. When it comes to children misbehaving in the classroom I think that it is important to understand where those behaviors and emotions are coming from. Like the article stated their is always reasons why children misbehave and if a teacher is able to establish a good relationship with her students they will be able to not only limit the misbehaving that happens in the classroom but also help her students when they need it.

  24. Teachers do need to establish good relationships with their students so that they can understand better where they are coming from. The root of all misbehaviors comes from somewhere and sometimes we do not understand why they are acting out. If a student feels comfortable enough to speak privatly to his/her teacher about any problems, this can avoid larger issues in the class. This is why good relationships in the class is a must.

  25. mitchsteinberg

    While reading this article it reminded me of Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. This seems like having an understanding of the different intelligences of your students, it would reduce the amount of misbehaviors. This is accomplished by using differentiated instruction throughout the school year. This way if the instruction is designed to captivate each of the students interests in the class, they will not be as easily distracted which in turn will reduce the amount of misbehaving.

  26. When dealing with student misbehavior it is important to begin with prevention. When students first step foot into your classroom make them aware of the rules and conduct that is acceptable. Be consistent and always follow through.

    Secondly, I feel it is important to present engaging topics to your students. Get to know your students and what interests them. If you know your student’s likes and dislikes you can design a lesson that is fun, engaging, keeps them guessing and on their toes.

    Lastly, never assume that misbehavior is the student’s fault. Some students may be struggling with classwork, may have problems at home, or may even be bored. Teachers should take an active role in improving their lessons and getting to know their students.

  27. I found this article of particular interest to me because one of my greatest concerns, or should I say fears, about teaching is classroom management and how to handle children that are misbehaving. This article helped lessen that fear by allowing me to understand that when it comes to misbehaving students, the key is to be proactive and prevent if from happening in the first place. From reading this article, I’ve learned the best way to prevent this type of behavior is to learn and know the reasons why it is occurring.
    I agree with the authors on the many various reasons why students misbehave and I’ve witnessed some of them in my own interaction with children. I do concur that most kids act out because of their need for attention that they may not be receiving somewhere else. They may feel that negative attention is better than no attention.
    I remember hearing a theory once that the brightest or gifted children are the ones who tend to act out most because they are bored, but as this article suggests, I feel that it is also the students who are confused about their schoolwork that get bored ,perhaps because they feel so lost.
    One of the most important lessons I took away with me from this article is that we, as teachers, must get to know our students and recognize their needs and differences; that we must make clear to them our expectations of them before they fall into poor habits, such as misbehaving in class. These are all important ideas that every future or practicing teacher must keep in mind when walking into their classrooms each day.

  28. From reading this article, it is quite evident that when children misbehave within a classroom, rather than punushing them for their actions, take the time as the educator to better understand why this is happening. Perhaps there is a problem at home, are they bored with the lesson being taught? Dig to find out why they’re acting out. Patience is key when educating children. Then again, patience is key in life – so helping children understand this and begin to learn how to become patient is a life long lesson worthy of a teacher’s attention and time. You must also recognize that when a student misbehave’s, its not always, technically their fault. Think about it – maybe they are trying to tell us something – are they having difficulty with a particular lesson plan?

  29. As a student that often was the subject of misbehaving, I too can relate well to this article. There are a number of reasons why children misbehave, in my case, I found that the more I acted out in class, the more attention I was given. Because I was not the greatest student, I felt that I wanted more attention any way that the teachers could give it to me.

    In retrospect, had I studied harder, I would have gotten the attention from my teachers. If it a difficult position to be in as an educator to be able to be pulled in every direction by the students, and knowing what type of attention and behavior condition is being used.

    I believe that students and teachers need to work cohesively in order to maintain the greatest amount of teacher:student relationships, especially when it comes to behavior. We as teachers must learn to read the signs of our students knowing how and when their behaviors are being used to gain the attention for their goals.

  30. Students Misbehavior and How it Can be Improved
    By: Marietto and Meghan Wookstock

    This article is right on the money with understanding what must be done when a child misbehaves. Even though they did not say anything specific about how to handle a child’s misbehavior, the principles of helping these children were mentioned. These principles are, knowing that every child is different, children feeling love and feeling wanted, and finally making sure that they are captivated in their class work and lessons. Also it’s important to make sure that every explanation is understood by each child. The teachers should always be in tune with each child’s feelings and interests in the classroom. Teachers should be aware of the child’s home life and any psychological factors as well. When the home life is interfering with classroom learning, the school counselor and psychologist should help as well. The teacher should never ignore any child if they are acting out just because they don’t want to deal with the child. If this is the case, the teacher should look for another job. You will be doing a disservice to the child. In my opinion, a large portion of the teachers job is effectively dealing with misbehavior in the classroom. Trying to teach the child to cope with their situation, so they can learn and grow within the classroom. Getting to know the children in your class is so important. The better you know them, the more likely you will be able to prevent misbehavior which definitely impedes in the learning process. It is not about how the teacher handles the situation, but how the teacher learns from it in order to help prevent it from happening again in the future.

  31. I totally support the writer’s point of view in this article. However as we all are aware there is no one size fits all in the classroom. As teachers it is our role and responsibility to maintain acceptable behavior in our classroom. I am a form believer that the best way to deal with a problem is to avoid it in the first place, and in order for us to do so we must become acquainted with our students strengths and weakness and arrive at reasonable solutions, not what we think is best for us as teachers. But, how to best help students when their behavior is not acceptable . Like it or not you are the captain of your ship.

  32. One of the problems with student behavior I think can be blamed on the parents. They are not adequately rearing their children the way they should be at home. When I was growing up misbehaving inside and outside my home was unacceptable. So if the parents would discipline their children properly then this would cause a great decrease in mal behaviors. The article did a good job of describing the major factors of why children misbehave, such as problems at home, boredom, and their not being able to understand the work. Educators should take closer looks and maybe pay closer attention to those misbehaving children, because they may be trying to tell us something.

  33. This article definately proves a good point on why children misbehave. The lack of attention they receive, boredom and lack of curiosity in what is being taught is a problem we will face as teachers. We can do our best to manage the classroom efficiently and nurture these students using the correct discipline. We need to establish the curiosity and desires of each student individually to maintain a balance of classroom order. Unfortunately, the way some children behave at school is affected by the way they are treated at home. As teachers we have to try to do our very best by giving these children the attention and respect they deserve in the classroom to help make up for their home life. As future educators it is important for us to care about these children as many situations do arise and we have to deal with them efficiently with morals and good character.

  34. godsproperty2006

    Why Children misbehave in and out of the classrooms? There are many reasons why student misbehave and it is significant as educators to understand why students do these acts and try to prevent them. In the article according to Sheila Milnes stated If you learn why children misbehave and teachers will find/ new ways to try to Prevent behavioral problem. The article mentions how the students misbehave in different ways. According to the article the authors state “due to many behavior disorders because of their lack of attention on love at home, boredom confusion about their school work, lack of confidence, bad home life. Low self esteem need for independence, lack of social skills of guidance and psychological problems or disorders.” (Marietto and Woodstock, 2009 p.1). Children most likely feel that they are not getting any affection at home from their parents; students who do not get the family support they may misbehavior in school.
    In some cases, a school faculty member may refer the student to seek counseling with a social worker. I think a student seeking counseling is good for them they could talk and instead of keeping everything bottle up, they can release there anger and frustration.
    Sometimes there are faculty member in the school who are very busy with their own work and do not take the time and effort to find out what problem students are encountering. If the student does not receive the support from the teachers in conjunction with support at home, the student will lose motivation, and have low confidence and self esteem.

  35. In the classroom I think that it is important to let your students know what expectations you have upfront. Don’t give them time to “test the waters” and see where the boundaries are, but make them aware of what proper behavior is in your classroom before they try and figure it out for themselves. Prevention is always better than acting after the fact. It is harder to change misbehaviors after the fact than it is to keep them from happening in the first place. As a teacher it is important to get to know your students so that you may effectively manage your class. Being aware of the likely behaviors of your students can help you prevent any outbursts. It is also important to fill class time with activities. When students sit idle they are more likely to get into trouble because they will look for something to do.

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