5 Common Behavioral Problems in Middle and High School Students

We all know that the teenage years are never easy, but as children move through middle and high school, both parents and teachers may notice behavioral problems that go well beyond the usual assertions of teen independence. Examples may include defying authority, repeatedly skipping school, and being physically violent.

Such actions and habits are troubling and disruptive for everyone involved, making early intervention advisable to protect the student and those around them. Below are some of the more common behavioral issues experienced by students during the middle and high school years.

Failure to Pay Attention

When students are unable to pay attention in class, they fall behind unless corrective measures are taken. In some cases, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder may be the problem. These students find sustained attention difficult, and struggle with tasks such as organizing schoolwork and starting projects.

Using Inappropriate Language

Swearing is not uncommon in a school environment; students do it to impress their friends or seek attention. In class, however, it can be both offensive and disruptive. Those who fail to appreciate this fact may be using inappropriate language to express anger or frustration because they lack more constructive ways of dealing with these feelings.

Not Doing Schoolwork

A lot of students are late with the odd assignment, but when failure to complete schoolwork is habitual and consistent, it may be a sign of learning challenges. When the difficulty of an assignment exceeds the student’s skill level, they will become frustrated, discouraged, and seek ways to avoid further failure. That may mean ongoing refusal to do schoolwork.

Sensory Processing Problems

When a student has a sensory processing disorder, they can behave in inappropriate ways, such as speaking up at the wrong time, walking around the classroom, and suddenly becoming angry. Inability to organize and make sense of incoming sensory information can cause normal lessons to be overwhelming for them.


Aggressive behavior is a threat to a safe and supportive learning environment. Physical aggression can lead to injury and intervention from the police, and even verbal hostility disrupts classroom flow. For especially sensitive students, witnessing violent behavior can interfere with the rest of their school day.

For students with major detrimental behaviors, the school can arrange a meeting with the parents to discuss the option of putting the teens in specialized programs that can improve learning opportunities, teach anger management, and address underlying issues such as ADHD.  

High school programs such as that offered by MCUSA can combine behavior adjustment with academic improvement, creating an environment that will help such students do better in school and even succeed in life. Florida school administrators can call 1-866-305-7365 for more information about the MCUSA program and how to bring it to their district.

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Written by MCUSA