Assist tired, upset or grumpy students

This is part two of our Promoting student wellbeing blog. In this post we look at two more factors from our Effective Student Model that helps to build student wellbeing and assist students to manage themselves more effectively at school.

See our previous wellbeing blog if you missed part one where we talked about students having their basic needs met and solving problems.





Students are better able to manage their school day and learn effectively when they are able to interact pro socially with others and have control over their feelings and behaviours. Below are some ideas to assist individual students who may be particularly tired, upset or grumpy at this busy time of the year, impacting on learning for themselves and others.

Manages emotions and behaviour

  • Upset behavior – rate the upset from 1 to 10, where one is ‘not upset’ and 10 is the ‘worst upset possible’. Use a thermometer or vertical number line to illustrate the concept. Then ask, ‘What would it take for your upset behavior to be one or two points less?’ Discuss the student’s response and develop a simple plan to carry out actions to reduce the behavior.
  • Put things in perspective. Have the student realistically rate the upset out of 10 with an increased emotional vocabulary at hand. Brainstorm words like ‘annoyed’, ‘frustrated’, ‘cross’, ‘peeved’, ‘chilled’, ‘angry’. The upset may be re-rated as 3 or 4 out of 10 on the vertical scale, rather than the initial unrealistic 8 or 9 out of 10. Emphasise to the student that there is no need to overreact or get ‘upset and angry’ when you are really only feeling ‘upset and annoyed’.
  • Impulsive and annoying behaviours. Help the student (or the class) to learn ‘stop–think’ behaviour. For more information see http://www.stopthinkdo.com Ask the student to ‘catch themselves’ before making or doing an inappropriate sound or action. Ask them to count backwards from five rather than acting on impulse. The use of positive behaviour charts for several days to graph and promote good behavior might be a useful short-term solution for younger students. For older students suggest they notice peers who manage their behaviours well, and have them observe and copy these positive peer models.

Socially competent

  • Where social intolerance is taking place, challenge the students involved to ‘get on’ with the other student for 7 days. Practising tolerance can be habit building. Begin by having each student identify three positive characteristics about each other. At the end of the 7 days review with the students involved other ways they might build further tolerance or acceptance.
  • Use alternative workspaces for some activities. For some activities it may be helpful to have a secluded workspace for the ‘grumpy’ student. This could be a desk in the corner of the room, or in a breakout room in view of the classroom. But as with many classroom tasks, starting the lesson together as a class and finishing the lesson together, where students share what they have completed, helps promote a socially inclusive learning environment.
  • Implement a program involving random acts of kindness, where students are expected to engage in at least one act of kindness towards another person each day.

Teachers and parents are significant role models for all students. On all occasions teachers should remain calm, confident and consistent in their reactions and in their actions with students and others. Teacher modeling is paramount in building student wellbeing and assisting students to manage themselves more effectively at school.

 Good luck with any transition programs, end of year festivities, last minute assessments and parent interviews, and best wishes as the school year begins to come to a close.

 Zoe Ganim and Murray Evely, Psych4Schools Psychologists