What Should You Do If Your Child Is Acting Out At School?

Every parent dreads getting a phone call from the school to say that their child has been in trouble for something. Unfortunately, it’s something that most parents have to deal with at least once because all kids make mistakes sometimes. But what happens if it starts to become a regular occurrence and your child is acting out at school all of the time? It’s a very difficult situation because once a child has a reputation for acting out, it’s a hard cycle to break. The teachers will always see them as a troublemaker and even if they’re trying to be good, small slip ups will be punished more severely. They may also get blamed for things that they didn’t actually do, just because they have that reputation as a child that acts out.

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It’s important that you sort the issue as soon as possible because it can seriously affect your child’s education. Their outbursts are likely to get worse and they will become more disruptive if you can’t work out why they’re acting out and put changes in place to help them. Unfortunately, that’s often easier said than done and a lot of parents feel overwhelmed in this situation. If your child is getting into trouble at school a lot, here are some good ways to deal with it.

Should You Punish Them?

The first question that a lot of parents have is should they punish their child for acting out if there have already been consequences for their behavior at school? It’s a tricky issue and it comes down to your personal parenting style but often, it’s best to think about the nature of the behavior and how serious it is. A lot of parents feel that when their child is at school, it should be up to the teachers to deal with behavior but schools want parents to take a more active role, so what are you supposed to do?

A lot of the time, it comes down to whether it’s an issue that is contained to the school or whether the problem is wider than that. For example, if your child is late for class or they aren’t wearing their uniform properly, they have broken school rules and the school will punish them. Those rules are only in place at school and so it can be dealt with by teachers without you having to punish them as well. However, if your child is fighting with other students or being rude to teachers, for example, those are behaviors that extend outside of the school rules and into general life. In those cases, it’s important that there are consequences from the parents as well as the school because your child needs to know that they can’t behave in that way whether they’re in school or not.

Maintain Good Contact With The School

The best way to tackle problems with your child’s behavior is to maintain good contact with the school. There might be things going on at home which are upsetting them and that may lead to the bad behavior. If the school is aware of these issues, they’ll have a better understanding of why your child is acting out and it will be easier for them to put measures in place to help them deal with problems in a healthy way. Most schools will use digital parent communication logs that they use to keep a record of anything that you discuss. That means that teachers will be able to see that information and get a better idea about your child’s home life. When communicating with teachers, you should try to give them advice about strategies and techniques that you use to deal with bad behavior at home because they may be able to approach the situation in the same way in the classroom.

Good communication works the other way as well and it can help to manage behavior at home. If your child is suddenly acting out at home and you can’t see any reason why, it might be because they have fallen out with a friend at school or maybe they’re struggling in one of their classes. Speaking with their teachers and making sure that you know what’s going on in their life can really help to deal with this behavior.

The most important thing to remember is that you and the teachers are on the same team. You both just want your child to get on at school and learn, so work together to find the best outcomes.

Help With Schoolwork

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Acting out in school usually coincides with a drop in grades, and there’s a reason for this. A lot of kids start acting out because they’re struggling with their schoolwork and they’re having trouble focusing. They may feel embarrassed to admit that they need a little extra help and instead, they switch off and start getting distracted in class, and that’s when the bad behavior begins. If there is a change in their behavior, you need to sit down with them and ask what’s going on. A lot of the time, they’re not going to tell you but they may tell you that they’re struggling with school work. Even if they don’t admit this, just offer to help if they need it. Often, you’ll find that once they start to understand lessons better, they’ll be more engaged and their behavior may improve.

Consider Changing Schools

In some cases, your child might not be a good fit for the school that they’re in and the teachers may not engage them very well. A lot of parents find that charter schools are better at student engagement than public schools so if this is an option for you, it’s worth considering. A change of scenery and a fresh start can do a lot to help the problem but it’s important that you discuss this with your child first. If they don’t like the idea of moving schools and they have a lot of friends that they don’t want to leave behind, a move could make the problem a lot worse.

Dealing with a child that is acting out at school is tough but a lot of the time, they will grow out of it. As long as you maintain good communication with the school and offer your child the support that they need, you should see an improvement.


  • Kate Sarsfield

    I have so many stories I could tell from years of teaching children & adults with ‘disruptive’ behaviour. The main cause is the result of a feeling of sheer frustration that a child/person has due to any number of issues. Imagine being non-verbal or hard of hearing and being expected to cope in a classroom situation. Put yourself in his/her shoes for a bit and you’ll soon understand.

  • Michele Soyer

    Went thru this with my son… frustrating for me and the teacher.. finally he was moved into a gifted class and believe it or not that changed everything.. sometimes children are just bored and acting out is the only way they can communicate this.. so challenging for teachers as they have to handle the disrupting behaviour….

  • Tamra Phelps

    I sometimes sympathize with the ‘troublemaker.’ Sometimes you can look at the kid’s home life, etc., and see where the issue has started. In those cases, I feel for the kid who is just acting out out of frustration or anger. They really just need an outlet, a person who cares and will listen.

  • Nancy C

    This can be a serious issue. As a former teacher, I can see both perspectives. The teacher has a job to do and it is very difficult when someone is continually disruptive.

    • Connie Gruning

      Nancy There is a special place in heaven for teachers! I know that my daughter Selena keeps Alice busy. Lots of together time and lots of exercise. I think that plays a big part too. Let kids get that energy out and MAYBE that would help too.

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