Is that Kind, Necessary or Helpful?

Using a simple question can help a student manage their behaviour.


One of the tiring aspects of teaching can be dealing with annoying behavioural issues that can bob up constantly – students interrupting, chair swinging, calling out, taking someone’s pencils, running off with a hat, fighting over a book, name calling, hitting someone, rolling around on the floor, taking all the blocks and not sharing, poking someone – I am sure you can list lots more. This easy to use strategy will take the pressure off you and contribute in a positive way to your classroom environment.

Try This:

Ask the student the following questions.

‘Is that kind?’


‘Is that helpful?’


‘Is that necessary?’


‘Then don’t do it please. Ok?’

Then calmly walk away or continue with your lesson.


  • The student will generally stop the behavior. After a minute or so thank the student for making a good decision or quietly pass them a note to say ‘thanks for getting back to work, making a worthwhile decision, choosing to be successful, being good to yourself. (Note these statements fit with the Learning and Life Tips strategy)
  • If you are in the playground make a point of saying thanks for making a good decision as you pass by the second time.
  • You have interrupted their behaviour, made them consider what was happening and they have had to admit in an easy answer that they were not doing the right thing.   No need to ask what it was all about or get into any discussion. They know what was wrong, it gives them a way out, a solution, an opportunity to fix the problem, make a positive decision there and then.
  • You feel in control and can quickly get the students behavior back on track and continue on.


  • If the situation does not need the ‘Are you being kind or helpful?’ question then go straight to ‘Is that necessary?

If you get no answer or an inappropriate answer use the broken record technique – calmly repeat the question until the student provides the correct response. The student knows perfectly well that what they are doing is inappropriate but may be in a bad frame of mind. Persist till you get the correct response – No. ‘Then don’t do it please’ and either walk away or go on with your lesson. .

  • If the student continues to use the inappropriate behavior and just won’t respond correctly say, ‘I’m sorry you have chosen to fail but I will never give up on you!’

Now walk away or go on with your lesson. If they are not harming them-selves or another student – leave them to it! They will still be thinking about what is right and wrong and they know they were wrong! Catch up with them later if you feel you need to.

  • The ‘Is that necessary?’ question is usually the best to use on most occasions.
  • Attach a Kind, Necessary Helpful sign in your room – Triggers your memory to use the strategy.
  • If the inappropriate behavior was impacting on another student have a quiet word with them and check that they are ok.