Is your child the class troublemaker?

When a child acts out, it can be an upsetting experience for everyone involved. But with the help of this guide, you can get to the root of the problem and hopefully put an end to your child’s troublemaking ways.

student goofing off in classroom

Although there may be hints your child is misbehaving at school, you never really know until you get that call from a teacher or principal saying your child has been acting out. As kids grow and develop, it’s natural for them to try out different behaviours. But if a negative behaviour pattern sticks around for too long, your child could be labelled a troublemaker, which could impact his learning over time.

Find out what’s really going on

Although many parents are tempted to jump to conclusions, the best thing you can do for everyone involved is take a breath and look objectively at the situation. Between your teacher’s perspective and the perspective of your child, you will likely be presented with two very different sides to the story. Make sure you get a full explanation from the teacher before taking any action. Ask for specific examples so you know which points to bring up with your child. By citing particular instances, you can get a more detailed response from your child, which can help you understand what’s happening on a deeper level.

Make sense of it all

It’s easy to get bogged down in arguments and not know what to do. So rather than focusing on who’s right and who’s wrong, WebMD recommends zeroing in on the behaviours. For instance, is the behaviour occuring only at school, or is it appearing in other areas of his life? If it’s only going on at school, then you can start to get to the bottom of what’s triggering it there. Perhaps your child is simply feeling under-stimulated by what he’s learning, or maybe he’s trying to impress his peers. There are many reasons that can cause a child to act out that are far more complex than his simply being a “troublemaker.” It is also wise to try to get a sense of when and why the behaviours started. Did something happen in your child’s life to instigate this way of behaving? Has it gotten worse over time, or has the severity been steady? Try talking to other individuals who have spent time with your child, such as babysitters, coaches and the parents of their friends, to see if anyone else has noticed anything unusual. Just as doctors can’t treat an illness until they’ve diagnosed it, you can’t help your child until you know where the problem really lies. Work with your child to find out how he’s feeling and why he’s behaving this way.

Take action when necessary

WebMD cautions that in some situations it may not be as simple as your child acting out every now and then. Your little one may have a more serious condition such as ADHD or depression. If your child’s behaviours don’t seem to be changing or start to get worse, seek the professional opinion of your family doctor or a child psychologist.

More parenting tips

How involved should you be in your child’s school?
Dealing with a tough teacher
Can you be friends with your kids?

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