6 Tips for Working With a Defiant Student

We can all think of one defiant student who we just can’t seen to find a way to work with in the classroom. Defiant students are sometimes tricky to work with but there are a few tips that can help you manage your classroom and the defiant student. Using these tips will make your classroom a much happier and productive environment for everyone.

1. Positive Recognition

I always tell my students “I will give you all the attention you want but I want it to be positive.” When you have a defiant student who craves attention in the wrong way, one way to defuse the situation is to give positive recognition whenever possible. Special jobs that allow the defiant student to get recognized for positive behavior and for helping are another way to help.

I will give you all the attention you want but I want it to be positive.”

2. Choice

Choice is key in dealing with a defiant student. Giving a defiant student a choice makes them feel like they are in charge of their decisions. You can give them choices of how to cool down if they are angry. If a defiant student isn’t defiant studentcompleting work, I love to give them the choice of “do you want to finish the paper with the blue pencil or red pencil” or “you can choose to sit or stand while you work on your math center problems.” By providing the choices, students see themselves as making the decision to finish their work. Along with choices, some students work well with if, then statements where they choose their “then”.

3. Time to Calm Down

When a defiant student is upset it is important to give them time to calm down. Give the child a choice of two options that would be okay with you. I like to give my student the chance to get a drink of water and then either pick a spot in the room to cool down or to go on a walk to the bathroom.

4. De-Escalate the Behavior Quickly

defiant studentTake action quickly. Talk to the child in a calm and gentle manner. Give space when needed. Allow the student to take time for themselves to calm down. They could run a errand, walk to the bathroom, get a drink, or take a paper to another teacher. Our team knows that a blank paper or a paper with the word “break” means the student needs a break. If a student comes to our room with the note, we try to give them 1-2 minutes of positive interactions including giving them a compliment, asking them to help us with something, etc. This allows them time to cool down.

5. Ask Questions

Don’t confront a non-compliant child. Ask questions and be an active listener. Instead of making them go back on the defense, take time to ask them; “What do you think made you upset?”, “What can we do to help?”, “What do you think about….?”, “How do you feel? Why?”, “Let me be sure I understand you correctly”. There could be things going on at home such as a death in the family that you may not be aware of. Understanding these things will help both of you overcome the obstacle of defiant behavior.

6. Reinforcements

Another idea for working with a defiant student includes a punch card, earning stickers or pom poms, points, etc. Look for an upcoming post about more ideas for reinforcements. In the mean time subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss out on future posts!

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defiant student