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Mommy’s little angel? Not so much

Parents tend to think of their children as darling angels, capable of only brilliance, kindness and the occasional stroke of genius. Other people’s kids are the discipline problems at school, right?

School troublemaker

When the discipline problem turns out to be your child, it can feel jarring and as though you have done something wrong. You haven’t, and you can help get your child back on track with the following three tips when your child is a discipline problem at school.


Problem: Talkative and disruptive

Many children, eager to start school and make new friends, are quickly labeled as talkative and disruptive in class. They talk when the teacher is talking, talk during circle time, talk in line and generally socialize when they should have their attention elsewhere.

Talkative children follow their natural instinct to socialize, make friends, and comment on the world around them. They have something to say and generally parents encourage this kind of expression at home.

When children start school, they begin to learn how to “do” school, which includes learning when it’s appropriate and not appropriate to talk in class. You can help your child overcome a too-talkative problem by coordinating with the teacher and working with your child at home.

At home, educate your child on appropriate times to talk. For example, don’t allow your child to interrupt you when you are speaking with other adults or on the phone. Establish quiet work time or reading time each night to allow your child to practice focusing without talking.

You can also create a reward chart and check-in system with the teacher, building up to a prize or special treat when your child is able to control his or her disruptive talking for a stretch of time.


Problem: Bullying

Bullying child

Bullying starts at any age, with most parents being vigilant for signs their child might be bullied. It is just as important to watch for signs that your child might be the bully. If your child has bullied, it doesn’t mean your child is “bad,” but it is important to stop the bullying and discover the root cause.

First, to hold your child accountable, ask him or her to explain what happened to incite the bullying incident(s). Then, work with your child to develop empathy for the victim. Ask, “How would you feel if this happened to you?” Help your child make restitution, which helps your child and the victim to repair the relationship.

Finally, discover the root cause of the bullying. Talk to the school to see if your child has been a victim in the past, if your child is having a hard time making friends, or if he or she feels frustrated. These emotions often lead to bullying behavior in younger children unable to express their needs verbally.


Problem: Disrespectful to teachers

Part of learning how to “do” school is learning how to negotiate the relationship between the child and his or her teacher, a new authority figure in his or her life. Some children respond to teachers disrespectfully, ignoring directions, acting out on purpose and generally behaving insubordinately.

Start by finding out exactly how your child has behaved in class. Knowing the exact behavior helps you work with your child at home. Then, be firm and let your child know it is not appropriate to be disrespectful to a teacher.

If your child is a discipline problem at school, be a role model. Act with respect toward your child, your partner, your child’s teacher and those you encounter daily. Try role-playing with your child to illustrate what respectful behavior looks like and sounds like. Sometimes, a child may not understand how his or her actions are received by others. Role-playing points out how words and actions may affect others.

The three fore mentioned problems are common amongst children — do not be discouraged that your child is misbehaving or having disciplinary problems. Make sure to take note of some examples used in this post, and work with your child to prepare for success in school and build good habits to serve him or her well down the road.

About the author:

Erica L. Fener, Ph.D., is vice president, Business Development Strategy and Analysis at Progressus Therapy, a leader in connecting their candidates with school-based occupational therapy jobs and early intervention service jobs.

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