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A note from the teacher: When your child misbehaves

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How to stop misbehavior at school

Just because your child is well-behaved at home, does not mean he never misbehaves at school. If you receive a letter or phone call from a teacher about your child's behavior, respond immediately. Let the teacher know you want to work with her to solve the problem.

Misbehavior at school

Talk to your child

Ask your child if she knows why the teacher wants to see you. Listen to your youngster carefully. Don't say anything that will lead him to think you blame the teacher and don't let him get away with blaming the teacher as an excuse for his behavior. Children need to learn to be responsible for their own actions.

Meet with the teacher

Ask the teacher exactly what happened — you need to know the specific behavior, how frequently and under what circumstances it has occurred. This will give you an idea of the underlying cause. Listen to what the teacher has to say and ask what you can do to help. Indicate that you are most concerned with solving the problem and helping your child succeed in school.

Try not to get defensive

Most all children misbehave at one time or another. Work with the teacher to assess the situation and decide on a plan to change the inappropriate behavior. If necessary, offer to meet again at a later date, to re-evaluate the situation and determine if the plan is working.

Discuss the meeting with your child

Review school policy and reinforce the values you have taught your child at home. Don't get angry. If you stay in control, your child will listen to you and feel secure. Tell your youngster calmly but firmly the behavior is unacceptable and you do not expect it to happen again. Again, you will want to keep the focus on her behavior. Do not allow your child to make excuses or distract you from the issue at hand. Be sure she understands the importance of not repeating the wrong behavior.

The best way to deal with behavior problems at school is to stop them before they start. Here are some steps you can take to help prevent problems at school.

Confer early

Ask for a conference early in the school year rather than waiting for conference invitation. Meeting early, before any problems arise, can help establish a good working relationship as well as provide an opportunity to inform teachers of any specific concerns that affect your child. If problems do arise, you and the teacher already know each other and will be more comfortable working together to help improve your child's behavior.

Volunteer in the classroom

Children whose parents are often seen in the classroom, and on the school grounds, have fewer instances of misbehavior. Volunteering at your child's school can take many forms depending on your time and skills. Parent volunteers are often needed to help students practice their reading skills, or to copy off worksheets, perform recess duty or help supervise field trips.

Children are happy and proud when their parents come to school. Your involvement will help your child's school performance, decrease incidents of misbehavior and improve his status among his peers. If you work during the day, you might offer to serve refreshments at the PTA meeting or help with an after school homework clinic. The important thing is to provide some support for your child, the teacher and the school.

Remember, if the teacher says your child is misbehaving, chances are very high that your child is misbehaving! The issue may seem like a little thing to you, but it can be a big problem to a teacher with 20 to 30 other students in her class. It is to your youngster's benefit to always try to be understanding and helpful and work in conjunction with the teacher when problems occur at school.

More about behavior and discipline

Is it ADHD or bad behavior?
Positive discipline: Why time-outs don't work
Your 5-year-old: Development, behavior and parenting tips

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