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The Student who may be Demanding Attention

Your responsibilities are not to diagnose or provide therapy; it is the development of a compassionate and forthright conversation that ultimately helps a student in trouble find understanding, support, and the proper therapeutic resources.


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, thought disorders, mania, and/or drug use or 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
  • May violate social or personal boundaries
  • Engage in micro-aggressions such as "You don't want to help me."

Think about:

  • Talk to the student in a place that is safe and comfortable. You may wish to have another University employee present or within visual or auditory range in case the student's behavior becomes erratic.
  • 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 the allotted time for the discussion ("I have 10 minutes today and so within that time frame, what concerns can I try to help you with?").
  • 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 (When confronting this behavior, your response might be something like, "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?").
  • Make a show of taking notes or have someone take notes for you during the meeting
  • Speak to your supervisor and/or colleagues to brainstorm alternate mechanisms to manage the situation
  • Call the Counseling Center (904) 620-2602 for help with identifying strategies for dealing with disruptive behaviors.
  • Refer the student to the Counseling Center (904) 620-2602 for counseling, or the Dean of Students/Ombudsman Office (904) 620-1491 to help resolve any conflict.

Watch out for:

  • Arguing with the student for the moment ("No, you are not correct and I do not agree"). However, it is a good idea to document any false statements for future use.
  • Giving in to inappropriate requests.
  • Adjusting your schedule or policies to accommodate the student.
  • Ignoring inappropriate behavior that has a negative impact on you or other students.
  • Feeling obligated to take care of the student or feeling guilty for not doing more.
  • Allowing the student to intimidate or manipulate you to not deal with the problematic behavior.