It’s happening again. You never thought it would happen to you but it is. Your child has always been so well behaved. You have never gotten a call from the school before this year. You look at the caller ID and sigh. It’s the school calling, again… Your child is yet again in trouble. You dread getting the calls and the notes home, but you wonder to yourself, what can I possibly do? The misbehavior is happening at school. Can’t they deal with it? You might be thinking to yourself, “What the heck am I doing wrong?” Chances are they can deal with it and there is nothing you are doing “wrong,” but here are some tips and tricks you can try when your child suddenly starts to misbehave at school.
1. Meet with the teacher
Set up a meeting with the teacher to discuss when the behavior is happening and what is happening before and after. It will be important for you as a parent to understand what is happening when the behavior is occurring.
2. Remember, all behavior is communication
All misbehavior is communication. Don’t beat yourself up about the fact that your student is misbehaving at school. Instead turn yourself into a detective and try to figure out what is happening before and after the behavior. Kids don’t misbehave just because they think it is fun. They are getting something out of it. Sometimes they may be seeking attention from peers or adults. Or maybe they are feeling frustrated with a particular subject and are feeling embarrassed or anxiety. Whatever the reason you may be able to see a pattern to the time of day they are misbehaving and what feedback they are getting.
3. Talk to your child
Talk to your child about what may be going on at school. Often times they have a good idea about why they are doing what they are doing. Try to come to them from a place of open communication and not a place of wanting to punish. If kiddos feel like they will just be in trouble they will be less likely to open up and tell us how they are feeling.
4. Ask what interventions are in place
Ask the teacher what behavior interventions are in place you’re your child. As educators it is our job to teach children those social emotional skills of how to behave as well as how to respond in times of stress and frustration. If you are getting calls home once a week or more your child should have some sort of behavior plan in place. PBIS World is a great place where you can go to see the different types of interventions could be in place for your child. Also, talk with the teacher about what systems you can put in place at home to help positively reinforce the student’s behavior. Not all teachers are well versed in behavior interventions so you may have to be pushy to get something in place. Don’t be afraid to schedule a meeting with the Assistant Principal or Principal if you are unable to get
Remember, even if you disagree with the teacher, it will be important that you and her are on the same page. If the teacher feels supported by you they will be much more likely to try things that you are recommending. Come up with a plan together so that you both feel supported and are presenting a united front to your child. Just like with parents sometimes our kiddos can use it to their advantage if they know we as adults are not on the same page.
6. Ask if your student has seen the counselor
Ask if your student has been referred to the counselor and if not request for them to be. There may be underlying emotional issues that could be contributing to this mis-behavior. The school counselor is a great resource that can help you figure this out.
7. Family Meeting with adult stakeholders and child
Once you feel that you and the school have a solid plan for your kiddo have a family meeting with your child and any other adults that are involved in raising your child. This includes all of your child’s parents and step parents. It is important that you all meet with your child to ensure you are on the same page and your kiddo knows and understands the expectations you have for him or her. It will be important that your kiddo knows that the expectations that happen with Mom will also be followed through by Dad and step parents. Try to make this meeting as positive and clear as possible. Let your child know that you are here to help and support them so that they can be successful in school.
8. Follow Through
Make sure that whatever system you put in place you follow through with rewards and consequences. Your child will test the limits and they need to know that you mean what you say and you will follow through on what you say. With that being said, make sure you think before you assign a consequence or give a reward. Make sure it is something you can realistically follow through with or give. Remember, the best consequences are ones that are natural or Logical meaning they are related to the misbehavior. For example, if your kiddo makes a bad test grade and now has to miss soccer practice to go to tutorials that will be much more effective and meaningful to the child then you grounding them for a week.
9. Ask your pediatrician
If the behaviors are severe or happening frequently consider talking with your pediatrician about your concerns. They can give you a better idea of what behavior is typical and what could warrant further investigation for an underlying cause. Remember- Talking to your pediatrician does not mean that you have to medicate your child. If there is an underlying medical issue you can talk together about what path would be best for your kiddo whether it be medication or some type of behaviorally therapy.
I hope that these tips and tricks help you take a deep breath and make a plan of action when you get that dreaded call from the school. Or more tips, tricks and resources check out my blog and follow me on Facebook and Pinterest.
Katie Hoffman is a behavior interventionist in Austin, Texas. When not teaching, she creates quality behavior and education resources for Teachers Pay Teachers.