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University Counseling Center

The Demanding Student

Typically, the time and energy you give to the demanding student is never enough. They often seek to control your time and unconsciously believe the amount of time received is a reflection of their worth. Students who are demanding can be intrusive and persistent and may require much time and attention. Demanding traits can be associated with anxiety, depression, personality problems, and/or thought disorders, mania, drug use/abuse.

Characteristics of student 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

What You Can Do:

  • Talk to the student in a place that is safe and comfortable
  • Remain calm and take the lead
  • Offer limited but positive feedback
  • Set limits on your time and keep to them (e.g., “I have only 10 minutes” or “Excuse me, I need to attend to other things”)
  • Emphasize behaviors that are and aren’t acceptable
  • Be prepared for manipulative requests and behaviors
  • Respond quickly and with clear limits to behavior that disrupts class, student sessions, or consultations
  • Maintain clear boundaries in relationship
  • Offer them other possibilities of places to get support/attention

Don’t:

  • Argue with the student
  • Give in to inappropriate requests, making exceptions, special “deals” bargains
  • Adjust your schedule or policies to accommodate the student
  • Ignore inappropriate behavior that has a negative impact on you or other students
  • Feel obligated to take care of the student, or feeling guilty for not doing more
  • Let him/her use you as his/her only source of support.
  • Get trapped into being bullied out of your comfort zone (time, role)

Guide Table of Content

Addendum