***This is a collaborative post.
A letter or a phone call detailing their child's disruptive behaviour at school is something every parent dreads. It can be upsetting knowing that something is causing your child to act out.
In some cases, simple warnings will be given to the child in question, but in more serious situations, there could be talk of after-school detention or suspension.
Some parents might assume there is nothing you can do. After all, if your child is acting up in school, surely it is the school's responsibility to deal with it?
Not so, as there is much you can do to support the school and ultimately, the needs of your child.
Here are some suggestions.
#1: Seek to understand the root cause behind the behaviour problem
Children act out at school for a variety of different reasons. It could be because:
They are trying to fit in with others
They are trying to hide feelings of social anxiety or low self-esteem
They have been egged on by others
They are trying to hide a learning disability
They have a behavioural condition, such as ADHD
These are some of the common reasons, but in some cases, our children can simply be mischievous or testing boundaries.
Talk to your child in the first instance and try to gain an understanding as to the 'whys' behind their behaviour.
#2: Look out for signs of problems at home
Does your child behave this way at home? If so, put a system in place to deal with any challenging behaviours, as this might prevent them from behaving badly at school.
However, look beyond any challenging behaviours and look for signs of other things.
Does your child struggle with their homework?
Could their behaviour be considered hyperactive?
Do they have difficulty relating to others?
Do they mention problems they are having with other children?
As discussed previously, these can sometimes account for behaviour issues, so monitor their words and actions, and help where you can. You could role-play scenarios with them, for example, to help them learn better ways of dealing with school issues. Or you could pay a visit to your doctor or consider family counseling if you suspect there are any specific issues that need addressing.
#3: Meet with the teacher
Your child's teacher may have spotted the source of the challenging behaviour already, so talk to them. Ask them what they are doing to address the situation and ask for advice on the part you could play too. Many schools have learning mentors and other members of staff that are trained to deal with behaviour issues, so find out from the teacher what help is available. They might also have recommendations for outside support services if the behaviour is particularly severe.
#4: Don't make matters worse
Don't get into a feud with the teacher if you think they are being overly unfair. You could always speak to the head of the school if you feel the teacher is in the wrong. And don't encourage your child into bad behaviours. You might tell them to fight back when being bullied, for example, which isn't always the best advice. There are other ways to deal with bullying that don't include violence. You need to be mindful of what you do and say as a parent, which isn't always easy when you have the best interests of your child at heart. Take action by all means but remember the influence you have on your child.
We have barely covered the issue here as behaviour problems are often very complicated. Still, work with your child as best as you can, speak to the school, and consider support services if you think an outside agency can help. These are just some of the steps you can take.