Classroom settings can be quite different from a child’s home environment, creating the potential for differences in home and school behavior. Teacher expectations, peer interactions and the regulated schedule of the school day are all examples of how the classroom schedule might affect the way your child behaves at school. Not all children behave the same in class, so identifying common behavior choices and possible causes can help parents determine an effective strategy to support learning.
Some children disrupt the classroom setting with behaviors such as speaking or getting out of their seats without teacher permission, according to a University of North Florida study. Grandstanding, according to he California State University, Fullerton, involves monopolizing classroom discussions about preferred topics without regard to appropriateness of timing or peer interest. Students might also talk with friends rather than pay attention or sleep during class. Some students might be preoccupied with electronic devices, such as cell phones or hand-held video games. Others might be withdrawn and non-communicative. Bullying, fighting, threatening violence or making verbal threats (to peers or the teacher) are additional examples of classroom behaviors.
Your child’s behavior in the classroom might be affected by numerous factors. Shyness might explain withdrawn behavior at school. Academic difficulties sometimes make students feel inclined to act out, seeking the attention of peers or the teacher, according to a Carnegie Mellon University study. Staying up too late at night could explain sleeping during the day; nutrition issues might make children lethargic or unfocused in the classroom. Different families uphold differing cultural values, which could affect classroom behavior. Generational issues might also explain inappropriate classroom behavior. For example, younger children might be accustomed to watching TV while engaging in one or more additional activities, creating the misunderstanding that it’s acceptable to multitask while a teacher is talking.
If your child’s teacher has contacted you about her classroom behavior, an in-person meeting might be appropriate. Ask for specific examples of behavior incidents in order to determine a pattern or potential cause, according to Empowering Parents. Although parents often naturally want to defend their child’s behavior, try to listen objectively. Talk directly with your child about her behavior issues, and explain the connections between appropriate behavior and learning and making a positive impression and making friends. If you disagree with the teacher’s assessment about your child’s behavior, this should not be discussed with your child, as it could impact future classroom behavior choices. Parents might consider assigning consequences at home when a child gets into a fight, steals or destroys property.
Serious behavior problems in the classroom might be caused by health or emotional issues that warrant professional attention, according to Carnegie Mellon University. Some behavior-related issues, such as oppositional defiant disorder or conduct disorder, could benefit from training in social skills or psychiatric medication, according to Boston Children’s Hospital. Not treating behavior-related disorders could lead to failure at school, troubled relationships with parents or other authority figures or juvenile delinquency. Talk to your child's doctor about these issues.
- University of North Florida: Changing Behaviors by Changing the Classroom Environment
- California State University, Fullerton: Disruptive Classroom Behavior
- Clayton State University: Disruptive Classroom Behavior
- Carnegie Mellon University: Address Problematic Student Behavior
- Scholastic.com: Hot Topics: Managing Disruptive Behaviors in the Classroom
- Empowering Parents.com: Acting Out in School: When Your Child is the Class Troublemaker
- Boston Children's Hospital: Disruptive Behavior Disorders
- State University of New York, Cortland: Classroom Behavior Management: A Dozen Common Mistakes and What to Do Instead
- Institution of Education Sciences: Reducing Behavior Problems in the Elementary School Classroom
- Journal of School Counseling: School Counselors Connecting the Dots Between Disruptive Classroom Behavior and Youth Self-Concept
- Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images