What do I do About My Child's Behavior Problems at School?

If your child misbehaves at school, these strategies can help. Phil Boorman / Cultura / Getty Images

Dealing with behavior problems at school can be a bit tricky. You have to work with your child, the school administration, and your child's teacher to effectively address the problem. With a team approach, you can create a behavior plan that will turn behavior problems around fast.

Establish Daily Communication with the Teacher

Whether your child is disrupting class or he's fighting with kids at recess, establish daily communication with the teacher.

Talk to his teacher about creating a journal or daily report card that will help give you information about your child's behavior.

Teachers usually already have some type of system they prefer to use for parent communication. A daily report card may include a point system or some other simple way for a teacher to report on a child's behavior throughout the day. Some teachers use a system of greens, yellows, and reds to report on behaviors throughout the day.

Request that a teacher send you information about your child's behavior every single day - not just on the days your child misbehaves. Kids feel good about themselves when they can deliver positive behavior reports.

Reward Good Behavior

Establish positive consequences that reward good behavior. Praise your child when he receives good reports from the teacher. Celebrate his success and motivate him to keep doing well.

To provide even more incentive to do well, create a reward system or token economy system.

Establish a daily goal and reward your child for reaching his goal. A goal may include, "Getting 3 smiley faces," or "Earning 5 check marks for good behavior," on the teacher's daily report card.

Rewards don’t need to cost money. Instead, link your child's good behavior to privileges, such as video game time.

Daily rewards can keep your child motivated.

Offer larger rewards on a weekly basis to encourage him to manage his behaviors all week long. A trip to the park or a playdate with a friend may motivate your child to keep up the good work. Don’t expect perfection, but do challenge your child to work hard.

Problem-Solve With Your Child

On the days when your child struggles with his behaviors, problem-solve with him how he can do better the next day. Ask him what happened and tell him you want to help him to do better tomorrow. Talk with him calmly and ask for his input about what would be helpful. Using a problem-solving approach may make him more willing to talk about it.

Sometimes kids are able to clearly explain what went wrong and sometimes the solutions are simple. A child may be disrupt class because he is bored. The solution may be to get more challenging work.

Misbehavior may also stem from not knowing how to do the work. Sometimes kids would rather appear to be “bad” than “stupid.” To avoid being teased, they may act out rather than ask for help.

Show your child that you want to work with him on solving the problem. Ask for his help identifying potential solutions. If he isn’t willing to talk, don’t press him too much.

Instead, when he has a good day, ask him for the secret to his success. You might gain some insight into what helped him and you can use that information to encourage him to keep up the good work.

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