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What to do with a clingy student?

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by ticatica, Apr 15, 2011.

  1. Hi
    I teach a lovely year 11 student but recent behaviour is concerning me and I don't really know how to handle it. Any advice would be very much welcome.
    There is no, as far as I can see, child protection issue, but this student has been coming to talk to me about stress at home for a number of weeks now. She seems to want to get things off her chest. I've talked to her but everything i suggest to help her, she refuses to do and flatly refuses to see the school counsellor. She has started asking to speak to me about 3 times a week and stays for the whole of lunchtime. I want to help, but she only wants to talk. Though it sounds selfish, I just don't have time to spend this much time talking to her and it's all starting to make me feel a little uncomfortable. She now wants my personal e mail so that when she's not at school, she can still contact me. I've said no but am worried she is relying too much on talking to me. Colleagues are sympathetic but have offered no solutions.......any ideas?

    Thank you.
  2. Sorry, can't offer any real help. I presume you've suggested other relatives as well as the school counsellor.
    Just stick to your guns about no contact outside school hours.
  3. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Get the school counsellor to come to you one lunchtime when you know the pupil will be there. Talk to her together and get them to begin to build a relationship. Then gradually find reasons to go and leave them together. Eventually the pupil should replace you with the counsellor.

    Stick to your guns about the email. Also keep doors open etc while she is talking to you. Sounds horrible, but do protect yourself as well as help her.
  4. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    Hi there
    It's sad that when all you want to do is offer support and help it can start to develop into something more than intended. From her point of view, she's desperate for attention and emotional support, and you've been kind enough to supply it as, I think, any human being with a heart would be inclined so to do.
    But as they say in Alcoholics Anonymous, if you think you have a problem then you do. For a start it makes you feel uncomfortable; and it takes up more time than you're happy with. And her desire for your personal email is the warning bell, if you needed any, to pull up the drawbridge.
    This is getting unhealthy; you're her teacher, not her confidante, and eventually she'll have to realise that such a relationship will only sultry in her becoming disappointed that you can't provide the emotional succour she wants. And who knows what a student might do if they feel let down by someone they believe is on their side? Sounds awful to imagine, but allegations do happen, and the question I always ask myself in my conduct with students (particularly in a pastoral or extra-curricular capacity) is, 'Would I be happy with what I've said and done being open to public scrutiny by others, for example, in a tribunal, and investigation, a parental conversation? If not, then the route is clear. As mentioned above, you need to safeguard yourself.
    So, to practical matters:
    • 1. Start telling her that you're busy, and that you can't see her. If she asks 'why?' or 'what are you doing?' then you know she's crossed a boundary, and sees you more as her pet counsellor and not a teacher. You need to discourage her, which will take some courage on your part. But, as an adult, that;s what you have to do. She's still mostly a child, and you may be allowing a crush to develop.
    • 2. Tell her firmly that you will never give her your email because it would be unprofessional. If she keep asking you, you're within your rights to say, 'Now that's rude: I've already told you.' Because it is rude. It's intrusive.
    • 3. Tell your line manager exactly what's going on right now; if you've pre-informed them, then you've covered your back.
    • 4. If she turns up at your room, ask her to leave.
    • 5. She's a junkie for your love. Wean her off. She should be talking to the school pastoral adviser; if she refuses, then that's her decision. You aren't responsible for her entire well-being; your duty is to her health, safety, and education. More than that, it's the job for parents, friends and other trained professionals.
    This might sound a bit tough; it is. On you, on her. The situation you describe is unhealthy, and potentially disastrous. Do the right thing for both of you, and direct her to where she can get the best help.
    Good luck
  5. Many thanks for all your feedback, it does help to gain perspective from others. I will start to back off a bit. She is a female student and I am a female teacher so I don't think the risk of a crush as such is a potential problem but I do agree that i'm providing attention to someone who craves it and will continue to seek it as long as I give it. I feel somewhat cruel backing off, so it is helpful to have other people advise that I back off regardless. I have informed my HOD and will continue to update her.

    Thank you again for the advice.
  6. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Errr yes it is! No question about it. No different to if you were male.
  7. Agreed - I've had to inform my line manager of a possible female student crush too. It certainly could be very serious. If in doubt, examine each interaction and ask if you would accept it from a male student. If it would be unacceptable for him, then it's unacceptable for her. Good luck, and make sure you have your line manager's support!
  8. Pennyforyourthoughts

    Pennyforyourthoughts Occasional commenter

    I am surprised that you left it this long. This should have been nipped in the bud within a few weeks and then passed right on to higher management for them to assess her anxieties and to question whether there was anything in her family life that might needed to be considered for further action.
    We have to be tough to be kind sometimes and we cannot be all things to all students.

  9. just disappear into the staff room. Your lunch break is YOURS.

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