How to Deal with a Class Troublemaker

Parental query: How to deal with a class troublemaker like my first-grader son, who is a saint at home but a jerk at school? Almost every day, I get an email from his teacher about his constant talking, making funny noises, and getting out of his seat. The teacher has tried everything from sending him to the principal to removing recess and putting him in the hall. I’ve taken away privileges ranging from television time to play dates with friends. What can be done to influence his actions? The teacher believes he is academically gifted.

Our response:

What your son is doing in class is common for a first-grader. It’s best handled in the classroom. Because the teacher does not appear to know how to handle the child, she should seek assistance. One or more experienced teachers could come into the classroom and offer advice.

You are too detached from your son’s actions to punish him after he has misbehaved. Tell him instead that you expect him to behave well in class. You should also go into the classroom and observe what he is doing.

Based on your knowledge of what type of discipline works best for your child, you might have some good suggestions for the teacher. A behavior chart, for example, can be beneficial to some children. Your son may want to check every time he speaks with his classmates. The goal is to reduce this number by one every day until it is at an appropriate level. Seating him in the back of the room may also help to conceal his behavior.

There’s always the chance that your bright child is acting out of boredom. Perhaps after completing routine tasks, he could be assigned more difficult work. This could change things. In addition, he may need to work on his social maturity to handle being in a classroom setting.

This teacher has been emailing you about your son for excessive time. She may also need better classroom management skills. While changing teachers is uncommon, a different teacher may be a better fit for him.

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