Unfortunately, some children have more trouble adjusting to life than others. Parents need to recognize signs of mental health and behavioral problems in the early development stages to avoid more severe issues in adulthood. It should come as no surprise that there’s a link between mental illness and legal troubles. Studies show a higher prevalence of mental illness in jails and prisons than in free society, so seeing the red flags in your children’s behavior could ultimately save their lives.
Recognizing the signs doesn’t solve what to do when your child is getting in trouble in school and at home. The longer these problems persist, then the more consequential their actions become, which means the clock is ticking for you to find a solution. Continue reading to learn what you should do when you have a child who’s getting in trouble at school.
Listen objectively to the school and your child about their trouble.
When a teacher tells you that your child has done something uncharacteristic, it’s natural to jump on the defensive. There’s no possible way your baby could have done what he’s been accused of. However, if your child consistently gets into trouble at school, it could be a symptom of a larger problem. The only way to get to the root of the problem is to listen to the teachers with open ears and understand that they’re only trying to do what’s best for your child and the other students under their charge.
It would help if you also listened objectively to your child. It’s more important to try to get a motive for their behavior than a recounting of events. The goal of conversing with your child is to try to find out if anything is troubling them at home or school that’s causing them to act out in the classroom.
It would be best to leave the actual details of events out of the discussion because it could distract from what’s important, and that’s getting to the source of your child’s behavioral issues. Use the conversation as a time to let them express their feelings. That’s the best insight you’ll ever get into your child’s behavioral problems.
Work with your child and the teachers to develop a strategy.
The next step is the most important in the process because it’s about what you, the teachers, and, ultimately, your child will do differently in the future. Even though you want the changes to occur in the classroom, implementation has to start at home.
Of course, what actions you take should depend on the nature of your child’s behavioral issues. When you discipline your child, it’s important to make it more about correction than punishment. That means you should implement tactics that directly counteract the behavioral problem.
It would be best if you communicated with your child’s teacher to stay up to date on their progress in the classroom. Not only can the teacher be your eyes and ears, but she can also help you with correcting negative behaviors and encouraging positive ones. Remember, the teacher who alerted you to your child’s behavioral issues is your ally—not your adversary.
What do you do when the behavioral problems are severe?
While you may feel like the only parent in the world who’s raising a troubled child, your situation is pretty common. The good news is that some psychiatrists and psychologists specialize in treating behavioral disorders in children. Over the decades, they’ve developed treatments that include a combination of individual therapy, group therapy, and prescription drugs.
If you feel like your child or teen has a drug problem or is a danger to themselves or others, you might have to consider more intense measures such as a managed behavioral health facility or rehab clinic. Behavioral issues that start during childhood and adolescence have a way of creeping into adulthood as well. If your child needs in-patient treatment, getting them the attention they need now could prevent them from having to spend time in a penal or mental institution in their adulthood.
Reward your child when you notice improvements in their conduct.
Sometimes, even when children get their act together, they fall back off track. One of the main reasons for that is they don’t see the reward for their changes. It’s actually been shown that negative reinforcement is an ineffective way to handle behavioral problems. Negative reinforcement is when there’s punishment for misstepping but no reward for doing the right thing.
One of the reasons that negative reinforcement isn’t effective is that even negative attention, and especially for a child seeking recognition, even negative attention is better than nothing. Your goal should be to show them that they can achieve the same attention for doing the right thing, and the difference will be that the attention itself will feel rewarding.
The fact of the matter is that some children don’t connect good behavior and how it pays off in the long run. Punishing your child for not being able to make that connection won’t help things either. The best way to encourage good behavior is with a reward system. By seeing immediate rewards for their conduct, they start to associate good behavior with achievement.
Once your child makes a complete transformation, you should consider a large reward like a fun getaway. A peaceful vacation destination like St. George Island off the coast of Florida is something the whole family can enjoy.
It’s crucial to understand that just because you, your child, and the teacher have a sit-down that your child will make a complete 180 the next day. Getting to the root of and correcting your child’s behavioral issues will be a process for you both.
As long as you see progress, things are changing for the better. There will be bumps in the road. There might even be times when you feel like your child has regressed, but you have to be patient and understanding. As long as your child is making a sincere effort, you can worry a little less every day.