How To Talk To Your Child’s Teacher About Behavior Problems

Finding out your child has been acting up in school is not a pleasant discovery. The knee-jerk reaction that seems to plague all parents is to react with anger: anger at the child, anger at their friends, anger at the teacher, anger at the school, etc. However, taking a step back to carefully examine the situation and make a plan to find out how to help your child will not only help you to resolve the problem, but can help you grow closer to him or her.

1. Maintain a balanced perspective. Parents tend to zealously defend one side or the other (usually sticking up for their child). If your child is having a behavior problem, you won’t do him or her any good by appeasing that conduct. The earlier you start correcting bad behavior, the easier it will be on both of you. You and your child’s teacher can become a team to work for your child or you can become rivals. Remember that many teachers are overworked, under-payed, and under-appreciated. Believe it or not, most teachers aren’t “out to get” your child. Be careful to show them the respect and gratitude they deserve. If you are worried about losing your temper, try inviting a third, uninvolved party. This often helps both parties guard their words more carefully.

Maintaining a balanced perspective doesn’t mean you only pay heed to your child’s teacher. Have a very frank conversation with your child and talk to them about your concerns. You’d be surprised how much a child will say if they feel they can trust you. On the other hand, if your son or daughter feels attacked, they might close up. Be very careful in your approach. Do it privately so as to avoid embarrassing your child.

2. Make a plan with your child and the teacher. Set up a time to meet with your child’s teacher. Find out the role you should be taking to help your child. Although parent-teacher conferences are an excellent opportunity to do this, you might try stopping by the teacher’s classroom during the week to chat and get to know him or her. This shows interest on your part. Ask how your child is acting in class. Do not be angry or try to excuse your child’s actions. Take the time to strategize and find out how you can assist. When brainstorming, don’t forget to offer some suggestions of your own. You probably know your child better than the teacher does so your input can be invaluable.

Although it is important for you to develop a positive relationship with the teacher, it is also important for children to be involved in the process — especially if the child is older. Set goals and make a plan. Goals may be challenging, but should also be attainable. Getting mutual agreement from you, your child, and the teacher will commit them to making them work. Write out your plan so that you can check up on the goals later on. It is also helpful to write the teacher a note expressing your gratitude for his or her time.

3. Follow up. Making goals is useless unless you follow up on them. Check back frequently with your child’s teacher to see if your child has changed behavior. Keep up with your end up the bargain. Congratulate your child if you see progress being made. If he or she needs to improve, kindly remind your child of your agreement. Talk to him using “I” instead “you”. For example, instead of: “Kaiden, your grades are really low”, try: “Kaiden, I feel concerned about your grades.” Back up your concern with the reason you’re concerned. “Learning algebra is important because next year you will be taking trig which builds on the things you learn this year.” This is a good principle in general but it works especially well on children. If you see significant improvement, compliment your child. Make sure they knows that you’ve noticed their efforts to improve.

Helping your child resolve problems early on can have a huge influence on their future. Once you’ve set goals for your child, keep it up in years to come. Maintain a healthy interest in their life, interests, hopes, school life, etc. This will not only help your child succeed in school, it will help you form a positive relationship with your child that will benefit both of you for years to come.

About the Author
Derek Gurr is a writer for My Colleges and Careers helps people determine if an online education is right for them and helps them understand which online courses and online schools they can choose from to reach their goals.

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  1. As a parent with an autistic spectrum son, I feel it necessary to mention that it’s not always the fault of the child. For years my son was labeled “behavior problem”, when in fact he was not. While I understand the knee-jerk reaction of standing up for your kid, sometimes it’s an absolute must. I also understand the teachers are often underpaid and underappreciated, but it is also their job to make sure your child is learning properly. If they are shirking their responsibilities and ignoring their learning disabilities, your child is the only one they have to stand up for them and fight for the education they deserve.