Some mothers believe that children act out because they want to and that the best approach to correcting unwanted behavior is discipline.
However, there are situations when children act out just because they feel like it but they misbehave for different reasons.
The misbehavior is a symptom of a larger problem and by treating the symptom without getting to the root of the issue, things will likely get worse.
Here are some common reasons that children misbehave in school and practical solutions to help get them back on track.
Undiagnosed or unaddressed learning disability
A big reason that children act out in school is that they are suffering from a learning disability that is either undiagnosed or that is going unaddressed. Children with learning disabilities are entitled to special accommodations and differentiation in instruction.
Solution: Request an evaluation
If you suspect that your child has a learning disability, reach out to their teacher and let them know that you have concerns and would like to have your student evaluated. Additionally, if your child has already been diagnosed with a learning disability, you should review their individualized education plan to find out what accommodations they are entitled to and then find out if these accommodations are actually being administered in the classroom.
Desire for attention
Sometimes when children aren’t getting enough attention at home, they act out. To them, it doesn’t really matter whether the attention they receive is positive or negative. As a result, they may act out in school.
Solution: One-on-one time and positive reinforcement
Mothers sometimes spend so much time working to take care of their children that they forget to spend meaningful time with them. If you suspect that your child may be acting out in school as a means of getting attention, carve out some time in your schedule where you can spend some one-on-one time that is free from distractions such as electronic devices and siblings. Additionally, you can use positive reinforcement to praise and highlight positive behaviors.
Problems at home
Stressors of home life can also contribute to undesirable behavior in the classroom. If you have been receiving negative reports and your family is going through a particularly challenging time, there may be a connection.
Solution: Family therapy
Sometimes, children don’t know how to work through negative feelings and need help talking through them. Family therapy is a great resource to give your child the tools and coping mechanisms needed to work through challenging life experiences.
Wanting to impress their friends
Unfortunately, children often give in to peer-pressure and misbehave at school and other social settings in order to impress their peers. When it becomes a chronic issue, it needs to be addressed.
Solution: Tough love
When your child feels that they have to resort to negative behaviors in order to win people over, it’s a problematic mindset that they must be broken out of because it can cause them many problems if carried into adulthood.
For some children, a logical heart-to-heart conversation about what true friendship looks like is all it takes. For others, tough love such as punishment or other consequences should be issued.
The goal is to make the consequence a teachable moment. Doing bad things to impress others may feel good at the moment, but more often than not, when you have to suffer the consequences of those actions, none of those people will be around to help you.
This is also a great time to build up your child’s self-esteem and teach them about not seeking validation from others.