Classroom Tools: Tips on Motivating the ‘Tough’ Kid

By: Admin 04 May, 2017

There is always at least one ‘tough’ kid in a classroom, who will be difficult to handle and send their teacher home exhausted and tired. You do not know what to expect with them. They don’t pay attention, they are lazy, they disrupt the order of your classroom.


So what can be done to motivate them? How to restore the order of the classroom?


Who is a ‘tough’ kid?


Tough kids stand out from the rest of their classmates. While on occasion every student tries your patience and produces less than acceptable work, the tough kid consistently and continually refuses to comply with basic requests, engages in power struggles, and seems to be the one child that you can't reach. They have a distinct pattern of noncompliance. Tough kids are often the topic of conversation in the faculty room.


The first step in determining the best course of action is to collect data over at least two weeks in the following areas: behavior management, homework production, and classroom preparedness.  Once a baseline has been established, look for patterns or potential triggers. Then begin the process of creating a way to effectively address these issues.


Mystery Motivators

Mystery Motivators are incentive systems that deliver random small rewards for positive behavior you want to encourage such as completing assignments, not talking in class, adhering to classroom rules, etc. There are several ways to implement this effective tool. Begin by letting your students know that one student will randomly be selected to receive a prize if they exhibit the positive behavior you are targeting. This can be done by placing a dark envelope containing a "mystery reward" on the classroom whiteboard. You can also like to stick a Post-it note with a star underneath a student desk or write down student names on sticks for random drawings. If the chosen person has not complied, they are automatically ineligible and must forfeit their prize.


Find incentives that students at your class level like such as additional computer time, homework passes, or lunchroom snack coupons. No matter how tough a kid is, EVERYONE likes to win prizes!


A contract

Contracting can be an effective way to correct undesirable behavior, and can be applied to many different areas. Begin by modeling the behavior you seek. The homework contract can be filled with positive undertones that can change the way a student sees his behavior. Remember that tough kids often think that they have nothing to lose, convince them otherwise.



Student’s self-awareness is crucial for tough kids because much impulsive behavior results from their inability to control their actions. A daily student tracking form gives specific criteria the student must meet while offering a visual assessment of daily conduct, both positive and negative. This sheet can be signed by each core content teacher, and will provide crucial data analysis. If you see that problems occur after lunch each day, the root of the problem may not be that they are butting heads with their math teacher, but that they are receiving too much stimulation and not enough transitional time between classes. Therefore, consider implementing a grade level five-week progress report that will provide a clearer picture of what is going on with your student.


Journal for Home

Relationship with parents is of utmost importance. Students with behavior difficulties make this tricky since the majority of phone calls home occur because of negative behavior. A great idea is to "catch their child being good," so that when a situation arrives, they'll be more receptive to communicating with you. Take-home notes or journals are a great way to give parents a heads up on the day's events while maintaining privacy, and serve as an important record-keeping resource throughout the year.


Remember that there are many teachers around the world facing the same ‘Tough’ kid problem. The solution is always to handle stuff positively. Do not stress, they are kids and every problem has a solution.


This article has excerpts from Scholastic blog. Read the original here.