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Second-grade behavior       Send a link to a friend

Syndicated column from The Parent Institute

[NOV. 16, 2005]  Q: Our son is in the second grade. His teacher called to tell me that he's misbehaving in class. We are pretty strict with him at home, so this was quite a surprise. What can we do to improve his behavior at school?

A: Remember that discipline means "to teach" -- it does not mean "to punish." And the way you discipline your child at home will affect the way he acts in school. When teachers spend time correcting behavior, they have less time to teach. Everyone suffers. Show your son you are interested in what he does in school. To help address his behavior:

  • Talk with your child. Ask him to describe what has been going on in school. Share what the teacher said. Then discuss the specific behaviors the teacher would like to see changed.

  • Make a list. With your son, brainstorm some ways to improve his behavior. It's important to involve him in making up the list. This way, you teach your son that he is responsible for choosing his behavior. Tell him that you expect him to make these changes in behavior. Send a copy of the list to your son's teacher and ask her to contact you if there's no improvement.

It's tempting for parents to want to step back during school hours and let their child's teacher handle whatever discipline issues arise. Congratulations to you for understanding that good behavior begins at home! Here are some tips to make your home discipline easier -- and more effective:

  • Be clear. Your son should never be confused about the rules. Rules should be simple. Explain why the rules are the way they are. Children who understand the reason behind a rule will usually work harder to live by it.

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  • Use a positive approach. Instead of saying, "Don't leave your books all over the floor!" tell him, "Pick up your books and put them in your backpack so you can be ready for school in the morning."

  • Talk about consequences with your son. Ask him what the consequences should be for breaking rules. He will appreciate being involved -- and he's more likely to accept his consequences with good grace.

  • Enforce the consequences when rules are violated. Say what you mean -- and mean what you say. Before you say, "Turn off the TV or there will be no TV all week!" make sure you're prepared to follow through. After all, empty threats are just that -- empty.

  • Remember that each child is different. What may have worked with an older or younger sibling won't necessarily work with your son.

Keep in mind that discipline is also about celebrating what your son does right. The more you praise and reinforce the good things he does, the more he'll want to do the right things.

[The Parent Institute]

For more information about helping children learn or to submit your own question, go to All questions will receive a prompt answer by e-mail.

Copyright 2005, The Parent Institute.

"Ask the Learning Advisor -- Ideas for Raising Successful Children" is a free, syndicated column from the Parent Institute.


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