The phone rings and it’s the principal on the line saying your child has been disrupting class, fighting, bullying, or lying. The call is one that many parents dread; giving them the sinking feeling they are raising a problem child.
The acts can be a sign of growing pains, but can also be an indicator of something more serious. Before jumping to false conclusions, it is time to put on your detective’s cap and delve into the situation by examining the child’s actions and what might be driving them.
Take a close look at the behavior:
- How long has it been occurring?
- Are there changes to the behavior?
- Where is the bad behavior present?
- What is the severity of the behavior?
- Are there other contributing factors for the behavior?
Talk to those individuals that are around your child on a daily basis such as teachers, coaches, and other parents. Ask them if they have noticed any changes in behavior, situations you need to be aware of, or problems the child may have mentioned to them.
Most importantly talk to your child. Ask him if he is experiencing any problems, struggling with issues, and make him aware how this behavior is impacting him and others.
As a parent, be honest with yourself and admit that there is a problem when one is apparent. Make your child accountable for his actions by having him complete detention for disrupting class or receiving suspension for fighting with another student.
Don’t be too proud to ask for help. Start off by discussing behavior with the child’s teacher and school counselor and asking them for constructive feedback. If the behavior is uncontrollable, consider a child psychologist or psychiatrist for further evaluation. They will evaluate and determine if the child’s actions are signs of behavioral issues or underlying biological issues.
Learn to accentuate and reinforce positive behaviors, pro-social behaviors, and actions you want to see. Eliminate the negative behaviors by letting the child know you will not tolerate bad behaviors, discourage by emulating positive reinforces, and focus on one issue at a time.
Remember to have patience as it can take weeks before the old behavior stops and the new better behavior kicks in.