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Behaviors
Behavior List

The Class Clown
Behavior
Effects
Action
Mistakes

Related Behaviors
The Con Artist
The Show-Off
Behaviors At Home

The Class Clown

Action: Why is my child behaving this way, what unmet needs does he or she have, and what specific things can I do to help him or her behave better?

Primary Causes of Misbehavior

Attention
This child desires attention at any price, and feels clowning is the only way he or she can get it.

Primary Needs Being Revealed

Gender/Identity
This person desires to establish relationships with people and is very unsure about how to go about it.

Escape from Pain
Situations at home or at school may be very painful, and this child may be hiding the pain by being the class clown.

Secondary Needs Being Revealed

Achievement
Sometimes the child's inability to achieve in the academic world causes him or her to become the class clown.

Status
The class clown is saying, "Look, I'm somebody!" He or she seeks a feeling of being worthwhile. Some of these children have high self-esteem and just like to entertain.

Actions to Take
  • Remember, this child may not like the role of class clown.

  • Help the child find a way out of this behavior, knowing he or she will pay any price for attention.

  • Don't ignore this child. His or her personality and needs will not allow it.

  • Enjoy the humor briefly. Remember, the class clown is often funny. The humor is not the major problem—knowing when to quit is the problem. Therefore, signal by hand movement, rather than words, that "enough is enough."

  • Fulfill the class clown's need for attention at times other than when he or she is "cutting up."

  • In a private talk, use the "Time and Place" strategy. Say, "Humor is a good thing. But other people may not respect you if you always allow yourself to be laughed at."

  • Respond with silence. In a powerful way, this response gets the child to settle down, because he or she knows that each added word is getting him or her in more trouble. When the child stops, however, don't say one word. Rather, go on with what you were doing. If you say anything, the child will start up again.

  • Don't attempt to handle this child with anger, rejection, or sarcasm, and don't try to outwit this child. Such attempts will fail.

  • Isolate the class clown from his or her audience—but don't forget this child's need for attention.

  • After his or her next clowning episode, laugh. The second time it happens, wait until the incident is over and then explain that humor is a good thing--but only at the right time and place.

  • Talk privately with your child, and emphasize the concepts of maturity and respect. Tell your child you resent people laughing at him or her and it troubles you that he or she is helping them laugh. Tell the child you are going to help him or her handle humor in a mature manner so he or she can make it a personal asset, rather than a handicap.

  • Be prepared to provide the patience and help he or she will need. Your efforts should begin to pay behavior dividends almost immediately.

  • At appropriate times and places, give your child a chance to "perform."

List of Behaviors

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Please Note
We are labeling behaviors, not children! For the sake of convenience, we will describe behaviors with terms such as The Whiner or The Interrupter.

Never use such labels when talking to—or about—children! Doing so could cause many new problems and seriously damage the teacher-student or parent-child relationship.