When a child misbehaves at school or daycare, the teacher may send home a note or call about it. What is usually communicated are the details of your child's behavior and what the consequence at school was.
As the parent or guardian however, it is important that you see the incident from your child's point of view. Your child may have hit a child who had teased him many times. Your daughter might knock over the block tower of the child who knocked her block tower over earlier, but no adult observed it. Did your child "talk back" because he wanted to finish a task and the teacher said time was up? Did she scream out of frustration because the work was too difficult? Is your child more of a follower and did something that a leader told him to do or assured him that it was okay to do?
I am not saying that these misbehaviors are right. It is not right to hit or tease another child or talk back to a teacher. However, if you know more about why the misbehavior happened, you have more chance to work with the teacher in preventing future such incidents.
Here are some ways to prevent such misbehaviors in the future:
1. Moving the child closer to the teacher allows the teacher to observe situations that could lead up to acting out incidents.
2. Tell the teacher about any characteristics of your child which may be related to the misbehaviors. For example, a child's refusal to join the group for circle time might result from her anxiety rather than defiance. A child with many siblings may not want to share at school. Not only does he have to share a lot at home but sometimes his siblings take more than their fair share.
3. Try to implement a daily report system between home and school. You get the notebook, write a couple of sentences about last night and this morning and the teacher writes a couple of sentences about when the child is with her. Usually you should comment about what the teacher writes in front of the child - whether it is good or bad. For example, "Your teacher said you helped her pass out papers today and did a good job. That makes me proud of you" or "Mrs. S. said you couldn't keep your hands to yourself during circle time. I know you can do better with this." You could then write a sentence in the notebook like "It might help Jimmy keep his hands to himself during circle time if he sat next to a teacher or held something in his hands, such as a prop to go with the story you read."
4. If Jessica is having a hard time finishing her work this week and screaming in frustration about it, it may be because she has other thoughts intruding. If something is happening outside school that might be causing this, you should usually let her teacher know. For example, "Jessica's grandmother was just taken to the hospital and she seems very worried about this."
Note: I would love to hear from teachers about this article, particularly if you disagree with something in it. •
Dr. Jill Linden is a licensed psychologist with a private practice limited to young children and their families. She has a community call-in hour every Monday 9 a.m. - 10 a.m. at 302-854-6688. This phone consultation is free and you don’t have to give your name. Dr. Linden welcomes questions about child psychology. They may be submitted to SP@Sandbox-Press.net and will be answered in this column without any identifying information.