Kids Who Are “Too Cool” to Participate

Hi, I’m Bonnie! I live in NJ with my husband Barry, my son Ben and a cute little betta fish named Vanilla. I’ve been teaching online for 2 years and along the way have had some touching, some cute and some hilarious experiences. But enough about me, let’s talk about tween/teenage kids and some of the unique challenges that come with this group.

Kids Who Are “Too Cool” to Participate and Other Shenanigans

We’ve all been there. We just got through a class of excited little guys where they are hanging on your every word, every gesture and you know you are the master teacher. Your confidence is soaring, you are smug and thinking I was made for this and then it happens… you get a class with T.W.A. (teens with attitudes). You are encountering “tudes” and undesirable behaviors. You start to panic and are not sure what to do. Here are some things that can help.

First, relax. Listen, as a mother of a T.W.A at home, I know that they can sense fear. Take a deep breath. You can do this.


Try to connect in the intro. Are they ignoring you because they are doing their homework? Ask them if they have a lot of homework and how their day was at school? If they say their day was bad, use the thumbs-up sticker, turn it upside down, and make it huge. Are they reading a book? Ask them about it. Have something on their wall/shirt (a character that you know etc…) try to make conversation about it. I had a girl who did not want to talk to me. I noticed that she had a “Hello Kitty” shirt on and I just happen to have had one in my props that I showed her.  After that, she was mine. Smile—don’t get upset or look shaken if you get no answer, just move on.
Another option is to do a major fun activity in the intro that they can’t resist.  I usually can get some interest when I do things that are out of the ordinary from the usual intros. I try to get them with curiosity—what is in my gift box/bag?  Make sure it is not too “young” for them or you risk going into dork territory.

Tone it Down!

The little guys love the over-the-top behavior with major thumbs-up and wacky headbands, but if you have a serious group, I would back off. You can still be fun and smiley but don’t cross the line. How will you know?  Use this simple formula:
Take the number of eye-rolls you get, multiply it by the lack of high-five participation and then divide it by the number of kids ignoring you.

In fact, if you have to do this equation, you are already in the danger zone.


Huge one. Can you make them laugh? Laugh at yourself? I have grabbed my microphone and have done the “is this thing on?”  I have smiled for an answer and then when ignored, I have put my ear so ridiculously close to the camera. This usually gets a laugh (if not from the ignoring kid, but at least the others) When I put them on stage for their turn and they ignore me, I give them 3-second count down and a “better luck next time,” or “you snooze, you lose” (I admit they may not always know—what you snooze, you lose means but it sounds funny anyway). Give them another chance the next round.

Pick Your Battles

I don’t mean put up with rude behavior (in that case, use the good ole mute button). However, sometimes it is best to ignore some things. I had a group of 11-13 year-olds and I asked a question and had them raise their hand if they liked something. On camera (not on stage), one kid raised his hand but with “the bird”. Ah, my first bird, but not my last. I ignored it. He was participating for the most part so I let it go.

So what happens if you tried your bag of tricks and nothing worked? Nothing bad. You gave it your all and you will now have a story to tell on House of Qkids. The good news is that you will have a whole new bunch of kids to start over with fresh. What will be your best tools to deal with this group?  

Want to start on your teaching journey? Get started by clicking here: For any questions or comments, you can email me at
Happy Teaching!

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