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

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

He'll be excited to take the bus home when he's got a note from the teacher saying he had a good day.

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Question: What do I do About My Child’s Behavior Problems at School?
School has just started and my eight-year-old is getting into trouble already. His teacher has sent home several notes saying that he refuses to do his work, disrupts class, and doesn’t listen. By the time he gets home he doesn’t want to talk about it so I don’t get to hear his side of the story. It sounds like the teacher makes him stay in for recess but it doesn’t seem to be helping. What should I do?
Answer:

Dealing with school behavior problems can be a bit tricky but there are certainly some steps you can take to encourage your son to behave while he’s at school. It’s essential that you work together with the teacher as a team and find appropriate consequences to encourage good behaviors.

Establish Daily Communication with the Teacher

It is important to establish daily communication with your son’s teacher. Talk to his teacher about creating a daily behavior report card. Your son’s teacher will likely be familiar with this concept.

Sometimes teachers use a system of greens, yellows, and reds to report on behaviors throughout the day. Other teachers use point systems where kids earn between one and three points during each class based on their behaviors. No matter which system is used, the teacher will complete a simple form each day to be sent home with your son.

Instead of just bringing notes home to report when he’s misbehaved, now your son can deliver positive notes to you as well. Make sure your son is aware of the behaviors he’ll be working on and how the teacher will track these behaviors. This will motivate him to want to bring home good reports.

Provide Positive Consequences for Good Behaviors

Establish positive consequences for days when your son behaves at school. Praise your son for his good reports. Celebrate his successes and motivate him to keep doing well.

To provide even more incentive to do well, create a reward system or token economy system. At his age, he will most likely need a daily incentive. Establish a goal for him each day and reward him when he reaches it. Rewards don’t need to cost money and can be simple things, such as time playing a video game, playing outside or anything that will motivate your child.

In addition, offer larger rewards on a weekly basis to encourage him to manage his behaviors all week long. For example, a trip to the park or something special that will motivate your son may be a good reward. Don’t expect perfection but instead get your child motivated to keep trying hard to improve his behaviors.

On days that he does not reach his goals, don’t allow him to earn a reward or privilege. There may be other natural consequences for his behaviors, such as problems with peers or falling behind in class, but no other consequence should be necessary. If he’s motivated by his reward system, not earning his reward will likely be consequence enough.

Problem-Solve With Your Son

On the days when your son 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. For example, he may be disrupting the class because he is bored. The solution may be that the teacher gives him more challenging work or special assignments.

On the other hand, he may not know how to do his work. Sometimes kids would rather appear to be “bad” than “stupid.” Out of fear that their peers will tease them, kids act out rather than ask for help.

Show your son that you want to work with him on solving the problem and see if you can gain his cooperation in talking about possible solutions. If he isn’t willing to talk, don’t press him too much. Instead, when he has good days, ask him how he managed to do so well and you might gain some insight into what is helpful on those days.

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