By Bob Cunningham
It’s never easy to talk about your child’s behavior problems. But the teacher likely has seen the behavior issues before with other kids. Here are conversation starters that will help you understand the problems better.
This is an important question because it lets you get on the same page as the teacher when discussing behaviors. The more specific the examples the teacher gives, the clearer the conversation can be. Let the teacher know if you see the same behaviors from your child at home.
Does the behavior occur on certain days, at certain times, during certain activities or around certain people? Knowing the answer will help both you and the teacher to see possible patterns in the behavior. Every behavior has triggers. If you can identify your child’s triggers, you can change the behavior. If the teacher is unsure of the answer, you can suggest that she keep a brief log for a week so that patterns will become clearer.
Now that you know if there are patterns to the behaviors, you can start to ask about what can help your child. Let the teacher suggest strategies that she has used with other kids with learning and attention issues who’ve had similar behaviors. Try these strategies first. Ask how you can work together with the teacher to change the behavior.
If the teacher’s strategies are unsuccessful or if the teacher indicates that she hasn’t encountered these behaviors before, find out if the school has other resources.
Offer to meet together with the teacher and the other professional. It’s sometimes easier for the teacher to get help if you’re also expressing the concern.
It often takes a good bit of time before changes are seen in the behavior. Each strategy should be tried for at least a few weeks before it is changed. The most important thing you can do is to keep in close contact with the teacher until the behavior improves. This way she’ll know that you’re doing everything you can and that you’re committed to helping your child.
When your child has executive functioning issues or ADHD (the impairment of executive functions), it’s important to talk with his teacher. If the teacher knows what your child struggles with and how he learns best, it can have a big impact on how well the school year goes. Here are tips for explaining these issues to teachers.
Was your child recently evaluated—either by the school, a private clinic or independent evaluator? It’s important to share the report with your child’s teacher (if the evaluator or your lawyer, if you have one, doesn’t object). Here are suggestions on how to start.
Bob Cunningham serves as advisor-in-residence on learning and attention issues for Understood.
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