6 Questions To Ask When Your Kid Gets In Trouble At School, According To A Child Psychologist
Every parent faces this situation at some point.
Your child is an absolute angel. Right? ... Right? Reality check: At some point in your life as a parent, your child will likely get in trouble at school. You’re no doubt doing your best to raise a kind, thoughtful child and not an entitled kid or a spoiled brat. But kids often act much differently at school than they do at home. So, don’t beat yourself up when your kiddo gets in trouble or a teacher tells you your child is struggling behaviorally. Instead, take it as a chance to learn — about the teacher, your kid, and yourself. One psychologist and positive parenting advocate who runs TheMomPsychologist, Dr. Jazmine, says the key to tackling behavioral issues at school starts with asking the right questions.
With more than half a million followers on Instagram (and more coming every day), her words of wisdom are clearly hitting home for parents everywhere. “I know it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, embarrassed, and upset at your child when their teacher approaches you about their behavior,” Jazmine starts. “But, first focus on gathering more information by asking these questions.”
6 Questions to Ask Your Child's Teacher When They Get In Trouble
- What triggered this behavior, or what was happening right before this behavior occurred?
- Has this happened before? If so, is it getting worse over time, the same, or better?
- What do you think is at the root of their behavior and why?
- How did you intervene in the moment, and what was my child's response?
- What is the plan moving forward? How do you plan to support my child with this?
- How do you think I can best support my child at home?
Why These Questions Matter
First, if this is a pattern and you feel like you need to talk to your child's pediatrician (and later a specialist of some kind), they'll ask you those questions, too. They're going to look at your kid's triggers and the surrounding timeframe to come up with their own conclusions about what might be causing your child to act the way they're acting. Your teacher might immediately hit the nail on the head with what they believe are your child's triggers and/or the root of their behavior — or they might be way off the mark. But these questions will still help you and anyone else involved gain insight into a situation only a few people witnessed firsthand.
It's also important to account for how everyone intervenes and responds to your child's behavior. Sometimes how we respond can actually make kids feel a lot worse or escalate the situation. In most instances, your child's teacher will have at least a few years of experience and know different tactics to de-escalate a behavioral problem. Those tactics don't always come easy when dealing with a classroom full of other kids who also need your attention, though. Right away, you may be able to spot that the teacher handles things much differently than how you do at home. From that point, one of you might need to adjust your tactics. Alternatively, you might need to work on finding new ones together.
The Beauty of an Action Plan
Having an action plan for both teacher and parent is mutually beneficial. "Remember, you all work on a team," Jazmine shares in the caption. "It's their job to help support your child as best as they can in the classroom. You have zero control over what your child does at school, but you can help support them at home."
First and foremost, it helps both of you know this is something you're working on together so neither party feels like they're being left high and dry. It also creates a united front for your child: If you're both taking the same steps, it shows you're both trying to help them and creates consistency. Consistency will be the key to solving nearly all issues — in childhood and life in general.
Jazmine's Other Vital Advice
Jazmine's six questions will go a long way in helping you understand what is happening with your child and their teacher in the classroom. If working together doesn't make a difference for your child, she offers another piece of advice: "Advocate for your child to be assessed if there are ongoing concerns about your child's behavior at daycare/school," she added in her caption.
This is crucial. Behaviors in kids can be written off as so many different things, from typical development to brattiness to "learned behavior." And while those things are all possible, there's a lot to be said for a mother's intuition. If the reports you're getting raise red flags for you, sound the alarm. Doing so will require (most likely) talking to the school and talking to your pediatrician.
In the long run, a specialist might tell you your child's behavior is routine or that you're accidentally taking a big misstep in your response. A specialist might also recognize a diagnosis for your child. That sounds scary — and it is — but make no mistake: The sooner you know what's causing your child's behavior, the sooner you can work with experts to find ways of addressing it (and that doesn't necessarily mean medication). With early direction, your child is much more likely to learn, adapt, and overcome as they grow.