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Why Do Students Misbehave? Essay

Report on why do students misbehave


Learning, both in a learning institution or in any other setting, is a process that requires a lot of attention and discipline. There has been a rise in instances of misbehavior among students in different learning institutions causing attention from different parties including the teachers, the administrators as well as the parents. The disturbing question remains to be on why students misbehave despite there being measures and strategies that have been put into place to maintain discipline. This report will give an in-depth discussion of the issue of why students misbehave. The study will take an interview form where different parties will be interviewed to gather relevant information that may lead to an informed conclusion on why students misbehave in school. The literature on the topic will also be reviewed to come up with the best results on the issue of discussion.

To gather effective information about the topic, different people will be interviewed. The interviewees will be eight in total, three students, a nurse, two teachers, one parent, and one administrator. The ages of the interviews ranged from 13 years and 40 years, four females and four males. The difference in the rank of the interviewees is aimed at getting diverse ideas that will contribute positive inferences and conclusions regarding why students misbehave. The interviews were held separately with each interviewee and confidentiality was maintained to the highest level. This was made possible by not disclosing the real names of the participants. The following names were used for the participants; for the students, Ann, Joe, and Tom, Mary for the nurse, Shirley and Jack for the teachers, Mike for a parent and Susan for the school administrator.


From the interviews carried out, with the different interviewees, I was able to gather some themes on the issue of why students had been caught misbehaving in various instances in the course of their learning period. Some of the themes that I was able to deduce from the highlighted causes of misbehavior among students include medical issues, the desire to seek attention, seeking power, the need to revenge on a wrong that was done upon them and the desire to avoid repeated failure among other factors. The individual, the school, the student’s family and peers were also key aspects. All these are however done to attain human needs such as to belong, to be free, to have fun and also to feel important and appreciated.

Some of the questions that helped in coming up with the themes include; 1. In your own opinion, what do you think causes misbehavior in students? 2. What are the contributing factors to students’ misbehavior? 3. What do you think can be done to minimize instances of student misbehavior?

From the different interviewees, different opinions were deduced. Some of the differences can be linked to the differences like the interviewees, for instance, the gender, age, and status (student, parent, teacher or administrator). The following were the interviewees’ opinions regarding the major identified themes; the individual and medical status, the school, peers as well as family background.

Ann, Joe, Mary, and Susan stated that a student’s health status is a major factor that contributes to misbehavior. Mary, the nurse, stated that she had witnessed misbehavior in children who consumed drugs and other substances due to their stimulant effect. To confirm this aspect, Ann stated that most of her peer students who consumed the substances were very arrogant and never wanted to follow the stipulated school rules. Joe, on the other hand, raised an important issue that teachers ought to be very careful when handling children so that they may note instances of misuse of drugs and substance and hence take the necessary steps towards rectifying the students.

Susan the administrator pointed out a very crucial aspect; that a child’s development stage could greatly affect his or her behavior. Adolescence is deemed as a very critical stage where different body and hormonal changes are experienced. Emotions may affect a student’s behavior as he or she tries to cope with the hormonal changes. The boys are more likely to be aggressive and tend to seek power and attention while the girls may tend to be shy and withdrawn, lacking the spirit to cooperate with others including the teachers. All these changes contribute to a student’s misbehavior and ought to be dealt with effectively. There should be an establishment of the boundaries or how the adolescent changes should be handled. The students should be taught on how to deal with the changes in a positive manner rather than demonstrating misbehavior attitudes (Savage & Savage, 2010).

Concerning school as an element that determines a student’s behavior, Shirley stated that there should be well-stipulated policies, rules, and regulations in a school. The policies and regulations should be made known to all so that everybody may understand the limits of behavior failure to which punishment could be administered. Lack of clearly established and enforced rules and regulations is a leading factor towards students’ misbehavior as the students do not understand the dos and don’ts.

School policies also affect student’s behavior especially when it comes to discipline management. In case of inconsistency in the policy implementation, there arise some conflicts and chances of students’ misbehavior could be increased due to differences in how mistakes are treated. Positive reinforcement or correction measures should, therefore, be established to ensure that the students are not offended in a way that could make them indulge in bad behavior as a way of rebellion (De Jong, 2005).

According to Jack, there is much to school than reading and writing. He emphasized that most teachers concentrate too much on teaching what is in the syllabus at the expense of behavior and how students ought to carry themselves hence chances of misbehavior. Poor training is attributed to this issue where the teachers do not pay attention to students’ social and emotional behavior, an aspect that is very crucial in enhancing both personal as well as academic life. The teachers should always try and ensure that they identify the different abilities exhibited by different students to establish the appropriate teaching styles to be used to enhance learning (Jennings & Greenberg, 2009).

The home environment was also mentioned by Mike, Mary, and Susan as a factor that affects a student’s behavior. Mike asserted that ‘poor home environment where discipline is not impacted to a child leads to misbehavior in the child even in the school.’ For example, where children are only taught to take orders from their parents, they may find it difficult to obey and do what their teachers advocate for. Susan also added that misbehavior in students could arise due to differences in the way discipline is maintained at home and in the school where conflicts could arise. Mary explained that parents ought to be role models and teach their children on the importance of good behavior (McDonald, 2010).

All the student interviewees; Ann, Joe, and Tom asserted that another cause of student’s misbehavior is an irrelevance in the curriculum or what is taught in the classroom which in turn leads to a lack of interest in learning. When students are not interested in the context that is taught in class, there are high chances of misbehavior to escape what is boring to them. For this reason, teachers should learn different techniques that could make the classroom a good place where students yearn to be. This could be made possible through encouragement and motivation of the students to take learning as a responsibility rather than a punishment. The teachers should, for instance, design their lessons in a manner that builds on the strengths and capabilities of the students to enable them to be in line with what is taught (Savage, & Savage, 2010).

Tom highlighted that peer pressure also led to students’ misbehavior. Mike seconded these issues saying that whenever he asked his son, Nick of why he behaved in a certain manner, he responded, ‘because my friends also do so’. Students engage in bad behavior to please their peers without thinking of the consequences they may have to face. Mike further advised that to solve this problem, teachers should engage the students in self-esteem boosting activities. Students who influence one another negatively should also be separated.

Literature Review and Its Implications

There is a considerable amount of literature that has been put forth by various authors and writers regarding the issue of students’ behavior in school. All this has been to enhance our understanding of the various behaviors that are exhibited by students in the course of their learning and carrying out other co-curricular activities in school. The most appropriate literature for this report can be sought from psychology materials, for instance, those dealing with aspects such as adolescent behavior in different situations and how the behavior could be managed for better results.

From the information gathered from the interviewees and the review of written literature, some implications are worth noting. The implications will not only enhance our understanding of student behavior issues but also provide some recommendations that may assist in improving the teacher practices towards the students and their behaviors.

Even though misbehaving has been identified as a disturbing aspect among students, there are solutions or recommendations which ought to be adhered to improve the situation, by aligning the behaviors that are exhibited by students in different situations. For the sake of the attention seekers, those students who misbehave to be noticed, the solution could be found in the manner that one gives attention to the particular student in other situations when they are not exhibiting attention-seeking behavior. A teacher should, for instance, ensure that the students are actively involved in all the classroom related activities to avoid chances of feeling left out. It is said that students who actively participate in the lessons for instance through answering questions or giving examples are less likely to seek attention especially through inappropriate means (Edwards & Watts, 2008).

As noted earlier, some students may misbehave as a way of seeking revenge. In rectifying misbehavior that is out of revenge, the teachers should bear in mind that they have goals that ought to be achieved for instance ensuring that a student’s dignity is always maintained, creating a long-lasting change in the student’s behavior, keeping all things in control and more so using punishment as a last resort rather than a routine aspect.

The teacher should, therefore, ensure that a positive relationship is founded between them and the student whatever the cost may be. A teacher should also exercise patience on the childbearing in mind that the misbehavior in the student is a reaction to something that hurts the student sometimes back. Another positive step is that of teaching the students on ways of disagreeing on an issue appropriately and how to express feelings and manage anger rather than demonstrating revenge behavior (Tauber, 2007).

Where the misbehavior is attributed to the avoidance of failure, different strategies should be applied. The teacher should try and let the student understand that success or failure is determined by one’s effort towards a task. The students should also be encouraged to keep track of their academic progress and measure success after each performance. Tests should be provided frequently to avoid anxiety. Positive feedback should also be given for any notable effort. There should be consistent motivation to encourage success which will reduce misbehavior that is associated with the fear of failure.

In case a student’s misbehavior is caused by the search for power; a teacher should try to let the students see that power is not a necessity. The teacher should be calm and consider meeting with the student in a different set apart from the classroom, where the rest of the students are present. The students should also be presented with choices to be able to choose what suits them best. The teacher should also look for a win-win solution such that the student does not necessarily have to seek for power (Trussell, 2008).


There has been a rise in the instances of misbehavior among students in different learning institutions causing attention from different parties including the teachers, the administrators as well as the parents. Various factors have been raised to be contributing to students’ misbehavior in school. Some of the highlighted causes of misbehavior include medical issues, the desire to seek attention, seeking power, the need to revenge on a wrong that was done upon them and the desire to avoid repeated failure among other factors. Peer pressure, health, the school, and home background also play a role in determining a student’s behavior. All these are however done to attain human needs such as to belong, to be free, to have fun and also to feel important and appreciated. The information gathered from the interviews and literature is important in helping teachers to deal with students’ misbehavior.

Reference List

De Jong, T. (2005). A Framework of Principles and Best Practice for Managing Student Behaviour in the Australian Education Context, School Psychology International, 26(3): 353–370.

Edwards, C. H., & Watts, V. (2008). Classroom Discipline and Management: An Australasian Perspective.5th ed. Brisbane: John Wiley & Sons.

Jennings, A. P., & Greenberg, T. M. (2009). The Prosocial Classroom: Teacher Social and Emotional Competence in Relation to Student and Classroom Outcomes. Review of Educational Research. Vol. 79, (No. 1), pp. 491–525.

McDonald, T. (2010). Classroom Management: Engaging Students in Learning. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Savage, V. T., & Savage, K, M. (2010). Successful Classroom Management and Discipline: Teaching Self-Control and Responsibility. 3rd Ed. New York: Sage Publications, Inc.

Tauber, T. R. (2007). Classroom Management: Sound Theory and Effective Practice. 4th Ed. USA: Praeger Publishers.

Trussell, R, P. (2008). Classroom Universals to Prevent Problem Behaviours. Intervention in School and Clinic, 2008 43(3), 179-185.

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