Students who display demanding behavior

Techniques for working with students who may be intrusive, persistent and require extra time and attention, including what to do, and what not to do.

Demanding behaviors can be associated with anxiety, depression, and/or personality problems.

Characteristics of demanding behavior

  • A sense of entitlement
  • An inability to empathize
  • A need for control
  • Difficulty in dealing with ambiguity
  • Anxiety
  • Perfectionism
  • Difficulty with structure and limits
  • Fears about handling life

Things you can do

  • Talk to the student in a place that is safe and comfortable.
  • Remain calm and in control
  • Set clear limits and hold the student to the allotted time for the discussion. (“I have 10 minutes right now. Within that amount of time, how can I help you?”)
  • Emphasize behaviors that are and aren’t acceptable. (“If you wish to continue this conversation, I will need you to lower your voice and talk in a calm manner.”)
  • Respond quickly and with clear limits to behavior that disrupts class, study sessions, or consultations.
  • Be prepared for manipulative requests and behavior. (“You came seeking my help, and I have offered several options. However none of these seem okay with you. What ideas do you have?”)

Contact the Office of Student Assistance and Support (608-263-5700) for help identifying more strategies for dealing with disruptive behavior.

Things to avoid

  • Arguing with the student.
  • Giving in to inappropriate requests or adjusting your schedule or policies to accommodate the student.
  • Ignoring inappropriate behavior that has an impact on you or other students.
  • Feeling obligated to take care of the student or feeling guilty for not doing more.
  • Allowing the student to intimidate you.

Used with permission from the University of Maryland Counseling Center