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Responding to Demanding Students

Students who are demanding can be intrusive and persistent and may require much time and attention. Demanding traits can be associated with anxiety, panic, depression, personality problems, and/or thought disorders, mania, drug use/abuse.

Characteristics of students who are demanding include:

  • a sense of entitlement
  • an inability to empathize
  • a need for control
  • difficulty in dealing with ambiguity
  • perfectionism
  • difficulty with structure and limits
  • dependency
  • fears about handling life
  • elevated mood
  • drug use or abuse
  • inability to accept any limits

What You Can Do

  • Talk to the student in a place that is safe and comfortable.
  • Remain calm and take the lead (“Tell me what is bothering you and then let’s decide what solutions there might be”).
  • Set clear limits up front and hold the student to those parameters.
  • Emphasize behaviors that are and aren’t acceptable (“If you want me to continue with this, I will need you to be respectful of me when you are talking as you would want me to be respectful of you”).
  • Respond quickly and with clear limits to behavior that disrupts class, study sessions, or consultations.
  • Be prepared for manipulative requests and behaviors (“You came asking for my help and I have offered you several ideas, but they do not seem okay with you. What ideas do you have?”).


  • Arguing with the student (“No, you are not correct and I do not agree”).
  • Giving in to inappropriate requests.
  • Making unusual adjustments to your schedule or policies to accommodate the student.
  • Ignoring inappropriate behavior that has a negative impact on you or other students.
  • Doing considerably more for the student out of feelings of guilt or obligation.
  • Allowing the student to intimidate or manipulate you to not deal with the problematic behavior.

» Report a Concern

*Adapted from Ithaca College

Behavioral Intervention Team Chair
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