Trouble with self-control: Conversation starters to use with your child’s teacher

At a glance

  • Talking about your child’s trouble with self-control can help you find answers.

  • Your child’s teacher can share insights and ideas about your child’s behavior.

  • Knowing what to say and ask can help make the conversation easier.

If your child is having trouble with self-control, what can you do next? One helpful step is to find out what the teacher is seeing in the classroom. Doing that lets you and the teacher work together to find ways to support your child.

You can talk in person, if that’s possible, or by email or phone. Parent-teacher conferences are also good times to discuss your child’s challenges.

But how do you start the conversation about trouble with self-control? And what exactly can you say to your child’s teacher?

There are a few guidelines to follow:

  • Be clear.

  • Be specific.

  • Ask questions.

  • Ask follow-up questions.

Remember that this is a chance for you to get information you didn’t have before. So try to listen with an open mind. And don’t be afraid to keep asking questions.

Here are some sample conversation starters to make it easier to talk with the teacher about your child’s trouble with self-control.

Asking to meet or talk: “Hi, I’m Kevin’s mother, Nicole. I’m worried that he’s struggling with self-control, and I’d like to set up a time to talk about it with you.”

Starting the conversation: “Thanks for talking with me. I’ve noticed that when Kevin is having a hard time with something, like his homework, he’ll have an outburst and throw his papers on the floor. Does he ever get upset like this in the classroom?”

Sharing information: “Kevin interrupts me a lot when I’m talking. At first, I thought he was just impatient. But now I’m wondering if it’s more than that. What do you think?”

Getting information: “Can you tell me how Kevin is doing in general with impulse control? Is there anything specific he’s having trouble with, like following directions or waiting his turn?”

Following up on answers: “You’ve mentioned that he seems restless. Can you tell me more about what you mean? Do you have an example?”

Asking about help: “What do you think would help? Are there things you’re already doing in the classroom for Kevin? Is there someone else at school who can help? How can I help at home?”

Finishing the conversation: “Thanks so much for talking with me. I have a better idea of what’s happening and what to look for. If you think of anything else that might help, please get in touch with me. Can I check in with you to talk about what happens next?”

Key takeaways

  • Share information about what you’re seeing at home.

  • Keep asking questions if you’re not clear about the teacher’s comments.

  • Follow up with the teacher to keep track of your child’s progress.


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