What do you do when you get a call that your child is misbehaving at school? It’s a challenging situation for parents and teachers alike. While you can’t control every behavioral decision your young student makes, there are parenting tips and strategies you can apply to make a positive difference. In this post, we’ll dive into what you can do to support good behavior if your child misbehaves at elementary school.
Table of contents
You’re not a bad parent
It’s important to know the best place to start when you’ve been informed about bad behavior at school. One of the first things worth mentioning is that your child misbehaving at elementary school isn’t necessarily a reflection of your parenting. There’s a lot of fear-based thinking about kids’ decisions being directly correlated to how they’re raised. While parenting styles and home life experience certainly can play a role in behavior at school, it’s also important to acknowledge that children make mistakes as they learn to handle new situations and emotions, like navigating the influence of a friend through peer pressure.
So, if you get a call from a teacher about your child’s behavior in the classroom, don’t be too hard on yourself or think it’s embarrassing. Some shifts and conversations may need to happen, but it’s ok if your kid isn’t perfect. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent or family – it just means you’re raising a human who’s learning, and that takes a lot of effort. Tantrums and disruptive behavior are normal during the child development process. What matters is how you respond to the situation at hand.
Leading with empathy and connection
Often, the simple rewards and discipline method aren’t enough to create lasting behavioral change. Leading with empathy and connection is a key course of action for handling disruptive behavior. Not only does this strengthen your relationship with your child, but it also allows for effective interaction with open communication, so you can understand their mental decision-making on a deeper level. Getting to the root cause and addressing it through empathetic parenting is a more effective management method.
It’s also an opportunity to teach your child how to bounce back after making a mistake. Instead of making them feel ashamed, getting angry and frustrated, or heaping punishment, take the time to teach them about the rational impact of their choices and what consequences follow. It’s a formative time to connect with your child, training them to process their emotions in healthy ways while understanding that their choices have a ripple effect on the people around them. As an adult, you have the opportunity to model accountability and how to own up to mistakes.
Research has also shown that consistency plays a role in the likelihood of a child displaying defiant and oppositional behavior. If you routinely don’t follow through or give in when your child pushes back, that’s likely a cause of increasingly defiant or noncompliant behavior at school. Practice following through on your commands and set rules at home to undo any unintentional reinforcement of rebellious behavior. Over time, your child will start to respect the boundaries and authority both at home and at school.
When to seek help
If you make changes and don’t see improvement or the misbehavior escalates into aggression or violence, it might be time to consider talking to a behavioral therapist or psychologist who can diagnose any underlying disorders causing the behavior, such as ADHD. An expert can also offer more tailored guidance on strategies or medicine that will help make a positive difference in your child’s mental health and how they express their emotions.
Again, dealing with behavioral issues doesn’t make you a bad parent. Every child deals with changes and challenges differently as they navigate new stages of life. The best thing you can do is stay empathetic and communicative with teachers and your child and remain consistent. Offering kids structure and healthy boundaries keep them feeling safe as they navigate a world that’s still relatively new to them.