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Singapore Tutor Tips: 5 Ways on How to Handle a Disrespectful Student

Students come in all types of behaviours and thoughts about their teachers.

There are students who will follow their teachers without any problems. There are students who may question their teachers a little bit but still follow the rules. However, there are also students who will disobey their teachers even if they know they are disrupting their class.

For every teacher or tutor, it is always difficult to handle students who are disrespectful. I know first hand as a tutor how difficult it can be to handle a disrespectful student. They will try their best to disobey the rules and would not listen to their teachers. Even if they are disrupting the class or session, they will still continue their behaviour.

Teachers react differently when they face this kind of students. Some may find it hard to handle these situations and even take the disrespect personally. Others may react negatively and use corporal punishment, something that I never advocate. Not to say the least that this is illegal, this would then affect the tutor’s relationship with their students. A few will act accordingly and find ways to get their students to behave without losing their respect.

If you find yourself facing a disrespectful student, don’t fret. There are ways to get around this problem without feeling depressed or affecting your teaching style.

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Here are some tips to help you handle them properly and how you can continue teaching them.

Do not take it to heart

When you find yourself confronting a disrespectful student, don’t take their actions personally. Some teachers or tutors tend to feel like they are disrespected because their students won’t listen to them. Some may even ask themselves if they did something wrong or if they deserve such treatment. I had thought that it was a sign that my teaching style is not good enough and started to doubt my capability.

I know you may feel disrespected that your students are not considerate about your feelings. Students often disrespect teachers to protect themselves or show a fake side of bravery. Others use their disrespectful face to test what the teacher or tutor will do. However, considering that they are not thinking of your feelings, it should be a sign for you not to take their disrespect personally.

Whatever their reason is, their actions do not have anything to do with your teaching or if you are doing your job right. If you know you are doing nothing wrong and you are doing your best, do not take what your students do or say to heart.

Cheer for yourself and don’t let anything pull you down. Your student will realize that they are not doing themselves favours with their disrespect.

Use humour to diffuse the situation

Whether you are teaching in a classroom or one on one, there will always be a time that you and your students will laugh at something unexpected. If your student suddenly disrespects you, respond by using humour. You can joke about their actions and indirectly hint to your student that he did something wrong.

Your student will definitely be taken off-guard when you respond with a joke. It will also cause them to realize what they did and behave. It will even be a reminder for them not to do it again.

Trust me, it is a good move to always have some humour in your lessons. It lightens the situation and dissipates any animosity quickly. Once that happens, don’t dwell on it and continue with your lesson.

Reiterate expectations

As a tutor, you need to set expectations with your students. This ensures that your students know what you expect from them in every class and what they should learn at the end of the class. If they fail to do this, you will need to adjust their lessons and be stricter with them.

If your student keeps on stopping in their work or doing other things they are not supposed to do, speak to them. Ask them why they are doing something else instead of studying and if it is important. Sometimes, students will stop what they are doing if they realize they are doing something wrong. Some students may do things unconsciously and will need someone to tell them off to stop.

Of course, there are students who won’t listen and even throw the question back at you. If they do this, throw the question back and tell them the consequences of their actions. They will recoil and think about their actions.

You should also repeat to them your expectations from them to remind them that you are not teaching them for your benefit. You are tutoring them to help them get high grades. You can even speak to their parents to support your actions if they continue to disrespect you during your lesson.

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Kill them with kindness

If you want your students to stop disrespecting you or misbehave while in class, you should be kind to them.

Remind them that you are following the same rules as they do and tell them that their behaviour is not right. Let them know that you do not deserve the treatment they are giving you and don’t retaliate if they do disrespect you.

Being mean to your student as a form of retaliation is childish no matter how tempted you want to be. Remember, you are the adult here!

Always be kind to them and you will notice they will change their ways and respect you. It is quite hard to disrespect or disobey someone if they are kind to you. I always persevere with kindness whenever I am with my students. Whether it is asking how is their day at school or just simply lend a listening ear for them to trash out their emotions, once they let it out of their chest, it is so much easier for them to absorb our lessons together.

Let the parents know

If everything you do does not work, you should let your student’s parents know about it. Sometimes, having the parents intervene will cause the student to reassess their behaviour.

Letting the parents know about their child’s behaviour can also help you act towards the child. A child’s bad behaviour is often derived from their relationship with their parents.

You may even be able to use the time to review your student’s standing with the parents and find ways on how you can inspire your students to do better.


As a tutor, you have to be prepared for all the challenges you may end up facing with your student. There may be a deeper underlying issue when a child disrespects. If such behaviour continues for a significant period, have a talk with his parents to seek alternative resolution.

For more tips to become a better tutor, here are some to help you:

5 Worst Types of Parents and How Tutors Can Respond Accordingly
What To Do When You Go For Your First Lesson With A New Student

Rum Tan

Rum Tan is the founder of SmileTutor and he believes that every child deserves a smile. Motivated by this belief and passion, he works hard day & night with his team to maintain the most trustworthy source of home tutors in Singapore. In his free time, he writes articles hoping to educate, enlighten, and empower parents, students, and tutors. You may try out his free home tutoring services via or by calling 6266 4475 directly today.