How to Work With Your Child's Teacher to Address Behavior Problems

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Hearing about your child’s misbehavior at school can be frustrating and downright embarrassing. Whether your child is refusing to do his math papers or he’s disrupting the entire class, don’t despair. Join forces with your child’s teacher and address behavior problems like a team.

1. Create Goals Together

Work with your child’s teacher to create some goals for your child. If your child exhibits multiple behavior issues, start by focusing on one or two at a time.

If your child is hitting other kids, for example, whispering to his neighbor during class may not be important to address at the moment. Create a goal to address the most problematic behavior first.

2. Get Proactive About Preventing Problems

Discuss when the behavior problems occur and brainstorm strategies to prevent any issues before they start. If your child seems to only get himself into trouble at recess, inquire about any resources the school may have to help prevent fights with peers. For example, is there a staff member keep a closer eye on your child? Are there certain children he has trouble getting along with? Sometimes simple solutions can very effective in addressing behavior problems.

3. Design a Daily Behavior Report

Sometimes teachers only report to parents when there’s bad news. But if your child is exhibiting  behavior problems, it’s essential that you increase the communication.

Daily behavior reports provide a quick and easy way for the teacher to keep you updated on your child’s progress. When children know you'll be communicating with the teacher daily, they often feel more motivated to bring home a good report.

There are many different ways to develop a daily behavior report.

The report could be as simple as the teacher coloring in a green, yellow, or red face on a piece of paper. Or it could include an email from the teacher with a rating system from 1 to 5, where the teacher rates your child’s behavior. A quick note about any problems or any major gains is also helpful.

4. Establish Positive Consequences

Discuss what will happen if your child improves and establish positive consequences that will keep him motivated. It could be as simple as saying on the days he receives a good report, he can play on the computer when he gets home. Or, perhaps he can earn points with a token economy system that will help him earn bigger rewards if his daily report card looks good.

5. Provide Negative Consequences When Necessary

There will likely be times when negative consequences are needed. Find out how the school plans to address the behavior that requires a negative consequence. For example, will they keep him after school? Will he need to stay in for recess? If the school struggles to find effective consequences, an at-home consequence may be necessary.

6. Explain the Plan to Your Child

Once you’ve worked with the teacher to develop a plan, explain the plan to your child. Make it clear that you’ll be receiving reports about his behavior every day. Tell him what will happen if his behavior improves and explain the negative consequences he’ll incur if he breaks the rules.

7. Meet Regularly to Update the Plan

It’s important to revisit the plan with the teacher at regular intervals. If your child’s behavior isn’t improving, consider making changes to the plan. If you are seeing major improvements, you may be able to work on new goals or perhaps a less restrictive plan.

8. Seek Professional Help When Necessary

If your child continues to exhibit serious behavior problems and you’re not able to address it with the teacher effectively, consider seeking professional help. Inquire if the school has a behavior specialist or anyone else who may be able to assist. Resources vary greatly by school so it’s important to find out what your school has to offer.

It may also be helpful to speak with your child’s doctor. A referral to a mental health specialist may be necessary. Sometimes behavior issues mask underlying mental health issues, like depression or anxiety. At other times, behavior disorders, such as ADHD or ODD, contribute to behavior problems at school.

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