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

Here's how to respond when your child has behavior problems at school.
Phil Boorman / Cultura / Getty Images

Getting a note or a phone call from a teacher about your child's behavior problems can be embarrassing. Whether he got into a fight at recess or he said some unkind things to the teacher, don't panic. Even really good kids slip up once in a while.

It's important however, to take action so you can reduce further behavior problems at school. Work with the school administration, your child's teacher, and your child to 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

If your child's misbehavior is an isolated incident, monitor the problem for a few days to make sure it gets better. If, however, your child gets in trouble at school more often, it's important to establish daily communication with the teacher.

Contact the teacher to talk about how you can learn about your child's behavior on a daily basis. Creating a journal or daily report card could help you monitor the situation more closely.

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. Your child will feel good about himself when he can show you he's had a good day at school and when he has bad days, you can work together to improve. 

Reward Good Behavior

Establish positive consequences to reinforce 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, "Get 3 smiley faces from your teacher on your daily report card," or "Earn five check marks for good behavior from your teacher."

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 play date 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.

Continue Reading