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How Parents Can Encourage a Positive School Environment

How to Help Your Child Behave in School

Below are five steps to help your child to:

  • make better choices at school.
  • behave more appropriately at school.
  • experience more success at school.

1. Form a team with the teacher to share information, knowledge and insights.

  • Listen to the teacher. Hear what s/he has to say.
  • Open up lines of communication. However, do not underestimate your own insights and information concerning your child. Share what you know that may be helpful.
  • Avoid getting angry or becoming emotional.

2. Communicate calmly and firmly with your child about your expectations for behavior.

  • Listen to your child. Help identify alternative ways to behave.
  • Make sure your expectations are clear: The message is: I love you too much to allow you to make poor choices. I want you to be successful. I will not allow you to engage in behavior that is harmful to you. I will not allow you to behave in ways that stop the teacher from teaching or the other students from learning.
  • State exactly what you want your child to do. Discuss the exact consequence if the misbehavior should continue.
  • Express confidence in your child's ability to make a more positive choice: I know you can do this. I have confidence in you.
  • In two-parent families, it is critical that both parents sit down and talk with the child.

3. Be prepared to back up your words with actions.

  • If the misbehavior reoccurs, discuss the following with your child:
    • What happened to our plan?
    • Restate the consequence.
    • Enforce the consequence.
    • Discuss the plan of action again.
    • Review with your child what behavior you want to see him or her choose if _____ happens.
    • Restate the consequence.
  • Remember: Extreme anger does not work. Hitting, spanking and severe punishments are not effective in the long term. These responses do not teach your child alternative positive behaviors and do not send a clear message of what you expect from your child. Often they cause resistance and resentment.
  • Consistent follow-through by parents is what works best. Saying what you mean and meaning what you say is the key to effective discipline.

4. Stay in touch with the teacher.

  • If the misbehavior continues, make a plan with the teacher what each of you will do. Identify consequences and rewards. The united message needs to be: You are developing habits that are bad for you, and they need to stop. We are working together to help you. We care too much about you to allow you to misbehave in school.
  • If necessary, ask the teacher to send home a daily note to you describing the day's behavior.

5. Provide encouragement and support when the behavior improves.

  • Pay close attention and offer specific praise as soon as the behavior improves.
  • Express confidence in your child's ability to continue to make good choice in and out of school.
  • Remind your child of the following: I will do everything in my power to help you improve your behavior, not because I'm mean, but because I care; not because I want to be hard on you, but because I love you.