One of the prime goals of a preteen is the beginning of individuation—acting the way they want to act, sometimes not listening to parents or other adults and sometimes even not listening to teachers. What do you do when you get a call from the school that your child was misbehaving? This information and advice can help you get a handle on the situation.
First, ask the teacher what the circumstances of the trouble were.
Was your child provoked by another child at recess or was your child disrespectful to a teacher? These are two very different situations, which you'll likely want to handle differently.
Second, speak to your child about what happened.
Whatever transpired, there will certainly be consequences in school and definitely needs to be consequences at home. And before you deal out consequences, you'll want to be sure you have both sides of the story.
Make the punishment fit the crime.
If your child was provoked at recess by a bully, that is very different from your child speaking disrespectfully to a teacher. In the former situation, you might stress that if your child is provoked in the future, he should walk away and find a responsible adult, even if it means losing face in front of friends. If your child spoke or acted disrespectfully to the teacher, that is a more serious situation. Your child needs to realize that the teacher is the authority figure, the adult in the classroom, and if your child does not like the way the teacher is acting or running the classroom, it is not acceptable to act disrespectfully. (If it seems the teacher is not being respectful to your child, you should discuss that issue with higher authorities on your child's behalf.)
Seek help if the trouble becomes frequent.
If any of these situations occur more often, consultation with a social worker or psychologist might be helpful and provide your child with a safe haven to discuss his or her frustrations or fears. If you are concerned that your child is uncomfortable at school, whether it be because of bullying in the school yard or a teacher who might himself been acting inappropriately, then speak to the principal. Always stress to your child that you are acting in her best interest and will stand by her if someone else is acting the wrong way.
Know your child's friends.
If your child's friends are engaging in inappropriate behavior, make it clear that it is unacceptable for them and tell your child that being a follower is also not good. If necessary, set up some consequences. It is very difficult to change your child's friends during the preteen years, but you can reiterate what is acceptable behavior and use teachable moments to illustrate this. For example, if you find out one of your child's friends has been suspended, talk about this with your child. Discuss why it is wrong and how you would react if your child did this. Keep on top of things. It will be worth the effort as your child enters the teen years.
on Nov. 26, 2012 at 2:04 PM