Behavior challenges: Conversation starters to use with your child’s teacher

By Gail Belsky

Conversations about behavior challenges can be hard. But they also help you and the teacher work together to give your child support. There are a few ways to communicate — through email, phone calls, or in person. Your parent-teacher conference is also a good time to talk about challenges.

There are some basic rules to follow when talking to the teacher about behavior challenges:

  • Be clear.
  • Be specific.
  • Ask questions.
  • Ask follow-up questions.

Use these sample conversation starters to help you plan what to say when you talk with your child’s teacher.

Asking to talk: Hi, I’m Christine, George’s mother. We’ve been seeing a lot of anger and defiance from George at home. I’d like to set up time to talk through it with you.

Starting the conversation: Thanks for talking with me. I’m worried about George’s behavior. He’s acting out a lot at home, and I’m trying to figure out why.

Sharing information: George has been very angry and defiant ever since school started. He blows up over small things and refuses to do homework.

Getting information: Can you tell me how George is doing in school? Are you seeing similar things with his behavior?

Following up to get answers: When you say he doesn’t respect the classroom rules, can you give me an example? I want to make sure I understand.

Asking about help: What can I do at home to help George improve his behavior? Is there someone else at school I should be talking to?

Finishing the conversation: Thanks for talking with me. Now I have a better picture of what’s happening. Can we talk again once I’ve had a chance to think about what you’ve said and try some changes at home?

If there’s something you don’t understand or you need more information, don’t hesitate to keep asking questions. The whole reason for the conversation is to figure out what’s happening with your child and what might help.

Do you have a parent-teacher conference coming up? Here’s a worksheet to help you get ready.

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    About the author

    About the author

    Gail Belsky is executive editor at Understood. She has written and edited for major media outlets, specializing in parenting, health, and career content.

    Reviewed by

    Reviewed by

    Amanda Morin is the director of thought leadership at Understood and author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.” She worked as a classroom teacher and early intervention specialist for more than a decade.