6 Tips in Dealing with Disrespectful Students

Malay Home Tuition Agency Singapore

Tutoring requires many skills but one of the most valuable is patience. As teachers, it is well-known that students vary from one another. With students coming from different backgrounds, it’s understandable that some student’s behavior may also be different from one another. We may have students that are the epitome of obedience while sometimes we have students that just test our patience. And then, there are others that plainly disrespects teachers.

It may be common in school settings but the same thing also happens even in private tuition. It’s not uncommon for home tutors to encounter students that are blatantly disrespectful to them. If you are a home tutor and you’ve come across a student such as this, this article is for you. If you are a new home tutor, this article will also help you in the future. For other tips for new home tutors, check out this article.

Difficulties of handling disrespectful students

It’s very difficult to handle disrespectful students. As a teacher, I’ve had my fair share of students that just make ruckus in class for fun. I’ve also had students who just don’t respect any figure of authority.

A misbehaving student for a home tutor is more or less the same thing. The purpose of private home tuition is to help the student get better in concentrated topics that they struggle in. It’s already a battle dealing with the student’s weakness and helping them reach their goals. But with an uncooperative student, it’s twice the effort.

Home tutors react differently and have different styles and strategies in dealing with these kinds of students. Every situation also varies and are resulted by different factors. But like everything else, dealing with disrespectful students in a mild manner is easier said than done. That said, as home tutors, we should also take into consideration what we can and should do.

One thing we never advocate is the use of corporal punishment or lifting a hand to the students. This may seem like an ideal disciplinary action but it may cause more harm than good we have to remember that the foundation of every student-tutor relationship is trust. This will not benefit you or the student in any way aside for a momentary change in behavior.

Aside from it being illegal, if home tutors resort in this kind of action, any hope for gaining the trust and respect of the student will inevitably vanish. Children are already apprehensive enough; we should win them over not make them afraid of us.

We have other ways of dealing with students such as without lifting a heavy hand at them, resulting in mutual loss of respect.

Here are some tips to help home tutors handle these situations and students properly:

1. Don’t take it personally

More often than not, a student’s action isn’t directly aimed at the tutor. There are instances wherein tutors feel disrespected when students don’t listen to them. Of course, as teachers, our jobs revolve around something students aren’t exactly eager to do.

When students do something that we may deem disrespectful, don’t take the action to heart and think that it’s a personal attack on you. Our students are children, some are teenagers. We should understand that during these times, students go through phases that confuses them. This is also the time wherein outside factors influences their actions such as their friends, what they see on the media, etc.

Some students may disrespect tutors to fake bravery and protect themselves. Some students are naturally defensive over their weaknesses and will do everything to brush it off. That said, them being disrespectful isn’t directly aimed at their tutors but is a defense mechanism.

There are many reasons why a student may disrespect a home tutor. The important thing for a home tutor to do is not take it personally. Do not let this bring you down. Students may not realize it now but they are not doing themselves any good disrespecting you.

2. Consider the reason

As stated above, there must be a reason why a student shows disrespectful behavior. So, when a student is being blatantly disrespectful, consider the reasons why he/she is doing this. It could be anything from wanting to avoid answering exercises to trying to get attention from their peers.

The number of reasons is endless. Personally, I’ve had students who were disrespectful because they want to impress their friends. This is a misplaced notion and will only result in them having bad relationships with their teachers and home tutors.

Home tutors should also consider that the reason for the disrespect may come from them. A home tutor may say something that a student may take the wrong way. A misunderstanding may escalate to animosity with our students. We don’t want that.

As it’s 1-to-1, we can ask our students for the reason for their misbehaving. Some students will not share with us immediately. That said, when they do, it’s best to clear any misunderstandings before they turn into bigger problems.

Sometimes, we encounter students who talk aggressively but their intent is not disrespectful at all. Students with this kind of behavior just have trouble communicating and we should help them and lengthen our patience.

3. Use humor

It’s not uncommon for students to sometimes break into laughter. It happens in schools and it happens in 1-to-1 tutoring. When a student disrespects you, try making a joke about their actions. This will diffuse the tense situation while also hint to the student that you are not affected with their disrespect at all. You may also hint to them that their actions are wrong and you know it.

Remember that some students will disrespect tutors or teacher just for fun or to get a reaction from them. But when you use humor to diffuse the situation, your students will be taken off-guard and will not get the reaction they want. They might also feel ashamed of their behavior.

A good thing about using humor in lessons is that it helps lessen hostility between a student and a home tutor. However, it can also be used to help with tense and awkward situations

Just remember to use humor appropriately also. Some students may think that disrespecting you is valid because you just take it as a joke. Some students may also feel hurt when the joke is targeted to their actions.

4. Reiterate expectations

Remember in this article when we talked about setting rules and expectations on the very first tutoring session? Well, this is a good time to reiterate those expectations and rules to the student.

If a student is constantly disrupting class and doing other things not related to the lesson, it’s a good thing to speak to them about this. Some students will show disrespect by throwing your expectations and rules back at you but you should also throw it back to them.

They have to be reminded that this is an opportunity for them to learn and develop. They will not achieve their desired outcome if they’re lagging and doing other things. They will not become better if they continue with their disrespectful behavior.

By doing this, we remind them the consequences of their actions and they will think about this and reflect on their behavior.

5. Be kind

When a student actively misbehaves and disrespects you, you should show them kindness. Remind them again of the rules and that you are following the ground rules while they are not. They will later understand that you don’t deserve the treatment.

By being equally mean as retaliation is childish. It might be tempting but it’s not a behavior expected form an adult and a home tutor. Be kind to them and you will notice a change in their behavior and they will start to respect you over time.

Always remember that people have a hard time being mean and unkind to people who are nice to them.

6. Intervention plan

When everything else fails, home tutors should devise an intervention plan for the untoward behavior. The very first step in this plan is to inform the parents.

Sometimes parents just had to intervene for the tutor and student’s sake. By having their own parents interfere, students will have no choice but to reassess their behavior.

Remember also that a child is a product of their surroundings. With the parents’ help, you may come up with idea on how to engage a child in and find ways for him/her to do better. As such, this time will also be used to reevaluate your teaching styles and strategies.


There will be many challenges along a home tutor’s way. Dealing with disrespectful students is only one of the many challenges you will come across. As teachers, you have to remember that there’s always a deep underlying reason as to why a student behaves the way they do. The tips above are just some of the things you can do while assessing the deeper reasons for the student’s behavior.

As a home tuition agency in Singapore, FamilyTutor also values the student-tutor relationship. We believe it significantly affects in helping our students to their desired goal. Want to engage in a home tutor? Click this link to find out more!



Carelle is a teacher who has been through the ups and downs of the teacher and learner life. She wishes for every learner to gain educational satisfaction that will help embody the people they want to be in the future.

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