Why Are Your Students Mean to You? (And How to Respond)

Have you encountered students who just won’t give you a break? They talk when you are teaching, they are rude to you, and they seem to do everything possible to test your limits with their misbehavior. Often, it feels like their mission is to ruin your day and make you miserable. 

Your students are so mean to you because they seek attention, want to get out of doing classwork, or are acting out because of other issues in their lives. Some are bored, or they do it to test what you would do if they go too far. Others misbehave when following group behavior. 

Sometimes the bad behavior that your students show when they torment you is not usually a reflection of you but of the things going on in their lives. This article will seek to answer some of the questions regarding the ill behavior of students towards their teachers and what you can do about it. 

Reasons Why Students Are Mean and Disrespectful

One of the challenges teachers face in their careers is their encounter with mean and disrespectful students. So, what you are going through is not unique. Some students are rude and will not listen to what you say. 

Others refuse to attend class, and when they do, their snide remarks interfere with your class.

Students are mean and disrespectful because they are bullies and wish to show other students that they are in charge. Others are disrespectful because their friends are, and they want to prove they are similar. 

Some students have issues at home and channel their frustration on the teachers. 

To effectively handle mean and disrespectful students, you need to understand the root cause of their misbehavior. Given a chance, some of the students can change, but only if you use the right approach to help them realize that their behavior is unbecoming and they need to be better people. 

This video shows some of the reasons why students are mean and disrespectful to their teachers.

How To Respond to Students Who Are Mean to You

When students are mean to you, it is natural for you to take it personally. 

After all, the students direct the disrespectful remarks and comments to you. However, you shouldn’t do this. It will be difficult to remain rational if you take personal offense over your students’ behavior. Your aim should be to build a good relationship with your students. 

Let’s take a closer look at how you should respond instead.

Lose the Battle To Win the War

Don’t turn it into a battle to see who will come out on top. Although it sometimes feels like you are competing with your mean students, you are not. You are still the teacher, and you should be willing to lose this battle for the benefit of the students. 

Look For the Cause Of the Behavior

Resist scolding, admonishing, or attempting to put the students in their place. It won’t work if the reason behind their behavior remains unresolved. Instead, you should talk to the students, observe their behavior out of class, and when you realize the cause of the misbehavior, tackle the root cause for long-term behavior change.

Resist the Urge To Scold the Student

When a student is disrespectful, you must be willing to lose the battle to win the war. You should resist the urge to scold, embarrass, lecture, get even, or otherwise attempt to put the student in their place.

Get On the Same Page As Your Student

Avoid turning the students’ behavior into a discipline issue. When you attempt this, you will be trying to get the students to be on the same page as you, yet you will be more successful if you were on the student’s page. The secret to getting a long-term solution is to understand why the students behave as they do and what you can do to help them be better people.

Acknowledge Them and Move On

Avoid escalating the issue. When you engage disrespectful students, you are playing into their hands. They will keep taunting you, knowing that you will respond, and give them a reason to laugh at you. Instead, you can acknowledge that you’ve heard what they have said by using body language, such as making eye contact and moving on. 

Notify Their Parents

Sometimes you need help to deal with mean and disrespectful children successfully. If they show no signs of remorse, despite your decision not to engage them, it is best to add another layer of accountability. You can discuss with the parents a multi-faceted approach to help the students realize their mistakes. 

How To Show the Class You Are Still in Control

While you shouldn’t engage with disrespectful students, you also don’t want to cede your control over the class to them. Once other students get the impression that the mean students are getting away with the actions, more may start disrespecting you.

You can still show you are in charge of the class by doing the following:

Talk Discreetly To Your Student

Talk to the disrespectful students after class. If need be, enforce a punishment without embarrassing them in front of the class. Should the students behave themselves in the next class, the students will know you are the one in control.

Remain Calm and In Control 

Sometimes, you show more control when you don’t let your emotions dictate your moves. Confronting the students in an effort to demean them and show the rest of the class you are in charge may be counterproductive. 

Instead, use other means to show you will not tolerate this behavior. You can discuss with other teachers and the school principal to determine the decision to undertake.

Learn Your Students’ Interests

Students have different interests, and sometimes you can get the students to behave when they risk losing something they treasure. For example, if they enjoy music or sports after school, warn them that they risk missing their extracurricular activities if they continue misbehaving.


How you deal with ill-behaved students is sometimes a double-edged sword. 

When you punish them and embarrass them before others, they could get worse in their fight to prove they are winning the “contest.” If you ignore them, the rest of the class may see you as a lame-duck teacher. 

However, you have the chance to correct them and get them to change their ways. If you get it right, you might save these students from issues that would have ruined their future. 


Mr Mustafa

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