Bored Behavior/Apathy

There are several ways that you can foster interest and excitement about school in students who display apathetic behavior. Base your strategy on the reasons behind the misbehavior. Let's discuss two of those.

Acting bored is an effective way to gain adult attention.

Some students are very skilled at gaining attention through their negative behavior. If you find yourself frequently nagging, reminding, or coaxing the student to cease acting bored, it is possible he is trying to gain adult attention. To change his behavior:

  1. Ignore his bored behavior and pay attention to him only when he is no longer acting bored.

  2. Use frequent praise and attention when he behaves appropriately. Given that your attention is a motivating force for this student, make sure that you are giving the student three times as much positive as negative attention.

Bored behavior may be the result of a lack of self-confidence.

Some students act bored because they lack self-confidence—their bored demeanor is a strategy for looking "cool." If your student seems insecure or defensive, your goal is to help her become more self-confident.

  1. When you meet with the student to discuss a plan to deal with her bored behavior, establish a non-embarrassing signal that you can use to cue her that she is acting bored. Then, use the signal consistently.

  2. Provide frequent praise and attention when she is showing interest or enthusiasm.

  3. Identify an interest or strength on which to focus. The idea is that if you can capitalize on the studentís strengths or interests, she may be more likely to show enthusiasm and, as a result, you will have more opportunities to give positive feedback.

  4. Give the student a responsibility. One of the best ways to improve a student's self-concept is to ask her to do an important job around the school or classroom. If possible, make it a job that is not a one-time event, but that occurs at regular intervals.

  5. Have the student set goals. Identify both a broad-based goal and at least three specific things the student can do to achieve that goal. Make the goal attainable—reaching a goal is self-satisfying, motivating, and builds confidence.

More in-depth information and additional plans for dealing with bored behavior and other behavior issues can be found in Randy Sprick's The Teacher's Encyclopedia of Behavior Management: 100 Problems/500 Plans available through Pacific Northwest Publishing. 1-866-542-1490

— Excerpt from CHAMPs: A Proactive and Positive Approach to Classroom Management