Those difficult moments

You’ve prepared games, you’ve organised fun activities, you’ve encouraged your students, you’ve done everything you possibly can to get them listening and motivated!

We all have students, on a constant basis, or occasionally, that are distracted, naughty and fidgety. Whether it’s from a long day at school that has caused this behaviour, or whether you are working with a special needs child, sometimes this can become very frustrating and annoying for us tutors to deal with.

In this blog, I’d like to share my own personal tips when dealing with this kind of frustrating behaviour. They’re simple and easy to follow, which is why I’d encourage you to follow them and put them into practice if you often face these kind of frustrating issues.


Keep calm and patient – There is nothing more worse than dealing with a naughty or distracted student through impatience and sharpness. As frustrating as it may seem at times, we as tutors are called to behave in a calm and patient manner. Talking to your student very patiently and calmly with often get your student to realise that it their behaviour needs to be changed. On the other hand, being very short, sharp and quick tempered will often always aggravate the situation and makes things worse.

Speak directly to the student providing constructive criticism – When it comes to those moments that we have to tell the student off, or tell them to pay attention, you want to make sure you do this in a positive and simple manner. Do not blame the student for their behaviour, do not tell them off in a quick tempered way, but provide constructive criticism. This will often get them more focussed and motivated. For example, if a student is being ratty and fidgety, say something like, “I know it has been a long day at school but we haven’t got long to go now.” This ensures that you are not blaming the child for their actions and are encouraging them to change their behaviour.

Speak to their parents – If the child becomes out of hand, and unreasonable, do not take matters into your own hands. Approach the parents, and express your thoughts about the student. Do not try to discipline them, as this is not your job. Your job, as the tutor, is to make the parents aware of the situation and their job is to discipline their child in whatever way they believe will work best for them. Be sure to be polite, gentle and calm when approaching the parents.

Praise a student’s effort – Encouraging a student to continue in their work and thanking them for their previous effort is a great tip to regenerating effort and motivation. For example, you may wish to think back at another week where they were really good and motivated,  and remind them of their achievements when doing this. Always be optimistic, positive and celebrate even the little progress they make. Simple phrases such as, “keep up the effort, not long to go now!” are easy ways to encourage your students.

So, when it comes to those difficult moments, those times when you feel frustrated and annoyed because your student is not complying or involved in the lesson, think back to these easy tips and try and incorporate them into your teaching. Watch your patience begin to come back, and your student’s begin to become concentrated and motivated again!

About Chiara Petrelli

Chiara is one of our Tutoring Melbourne team members. Chiara has always been a role model student and enthusiastic high achiever, earning numerous academic awards for a wide range of subjects during her school career including Italian, English, Religion and Society and Legal Studies. She achieved an impressive ATAR in the 90’s with especially strong results in English, and she is currently undertaking her Bachelor of Arts / Education degree at the University of Melbourne where she is studying to become a fully qualified School Teacher.

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