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Behavior Issues: Discipline

When teaching teens, dealing with disciplinary issues just comes with the territory.  


Chances are if you’re teaching students or teenagers, it’s for two reasons:  
 1. You like to do it.
 2. You’re good at it.

One reason nobody just signs up to teach is because they are not looking forward to dealing with disciplinary issues. Unfortunately, classroom management is one of the most difficult tasks in teaching. No matter where you teach—a Sunday school class, a youth group, or a small group Bible study—chances are you’ll have a disciplinary issue sooner or later.

Keep in mind that the atmosphere of a room is an important factor in a learning environment. A misbehaving teenager can sabotage your environment and put the learning process on it's side, so it is important to be aware of potential issues, recognize the reasons behind them, and deal with them in an appropriate way.


The only way to really be aware of potential issues in your group is to know your students. What are their families like? How old are they? How do they do in school? What bugs them? Do they have any learning disabilities or attention disorders?

Talking to parents about their kids is smart. If you see a parent in the hall, ask them how things are going for their teenager at home. Partner with them so you are aware of what is going on in a kid’s life.


If you have a student who is prone to misbehaving, go to him or her before your class meets, and let that student know you appreciate his or her participation, attention, and respect for everyone in the room. Lay out the expectation that he or she works with you to make sure he or she doesn't go overboard with obtrusive behaviors (excessive talking, talking back, making fun of others, etc.). Students are often embarrassed to be called out in front of the group, so set up a code ahead of time. Let them know if they need to calm down you will ask them a certain question. This way, they’ll know to back off and the other students won’t know the discipline is even happening.


Another reason students often act up is because they want attention. By talking to students ahead of time or giving them attention at other times, you can often avoid struggles in your group. Often we tend to avoid more poorly behaved students, but they actually need more from us. By talking to them, playing a game together, or giving them a ride home, you can build a relationship with them that will cause them to respect you more.



It is crucial that you know the parents of students. Often, behavioral issues stem from family life. If you know the parents, you can work with and not around them at helping make their teen’s experience a positive one. They will have insight to share and frame your perspective in a way that can only be helpful.

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