Behavior Problems in School

mom talking to her children about their behavior problems in school

Learn the best tips for dealing with behavior problems in school, bullying, how to improve poor listening skills and apply good study tips. For some children, their behavior is good in school and bad at home. For others it's the exact opposite of that, especially if a child is involved in bullying.

One of the biggest challenges parents I have worked with is how to deal with the school systems and teachers that don’t always seem to be seeking their child’s best interest. It's especially difficult for children with ADHD symptoms that can disrupt classrooms.

Besides the need for ADHD treatments, there are many factors that may contribute to symptoms including class structure, the amount of attention a child receives at school compared to home, children in the class compared to siblings at home, and teacher-student interactions.

Factors to consider and strategies to implement for behavior problems in school:

1. Eliminate any sleep problems. An extremely important factor that affects behavior problems in school, such as poor listening skills, attention and memory is the amount of sleep he or she is getting each night.

If your child has a problem sleeping at night then he or she will be tired in class, have less ability to focus, and become irritable. You may also notice a lot of hyperactive behavior due to the body releasing cortisol (steroid) in response to the stress of fatigue. Click on the link above to make sure you know how much sleep your child should be getting.

These symptoms can all lead to a diagnosis of ADHD even though the real issue is related to sleep. Teachers may even go as far as to trying to strongly urge parents to put their child on medications that aren’t necessarily needed. Therefore, making sure that your child is getting the recommended amount of sleep for his or her age is very important for developing positive school behavior.

2. Monitor your child’s diet. Limit caffeine and sugars. These can affect your child’s ability to sit still and pay attention in class. You may also keep an eye on foods with artificial colors, such as red dye 40 as these have been known to cause hyperactivity and irritability, both common behavior problems in school. Add omega-3 fatty acids or DHA to your child’s diet. These have shown to improve symptoms of hyperactivity.

3. Some children are easily distracted by noise and other stimuli. These may be affecting your child’s ability to concentrate in class. Talk to your teacher about having your child seated in the front row of a classroom away from distracting peers.

I personally find that I even have a difficult time paying attention to someone that is talking when there are other distracting noises and classroom learning was never my strong point as a result.

4. Have your child study material prior to class. I always learned best by teaching myself. However, this often led to missing important statements made by the teacher because I was so busy reading and going through the material on my own. By having your child review material before class, he or she will be able to use class as more of a review and is better able to participate due to already knowing the material.

I also recommend using the tips listed on the page about attention and memory, to help your child.

5. Make sure your child is in an appropriate class/school. If your child is having a lot of behavior problems in school you may check to see if the material being presented is too difficult or too easy. If it is too difficult your child may engage in behavior to escape the learning and if it is too easy he or she may be very bored.

I actually had a teacher tell my mom when I was younger that I wasn’t doing very well and should be put in a lower level class. However, after my mom investigated the situation she realized I already knew everything we were doing and I was bored out of my mind. So, they gave me more challenging material and I started doing much better.

This is especially important for children with autism or asperger syndrome behavior. Finding a good school with programs in applied behavior analysis will benefit your child the most.

For other children an option to consider, if you are able to afford it and you know that ADHD symptoms run in your family, would be a Montessori School. These schools allow for more kinesthetic learning, which will automatically improve some behavior problems in school and permit a child to progress at his or her own individual rate. However, you have to start your child at the age of 3 years old.

A web site dedicated to helping parents understand special education is another great resource. The guide helps parents understand the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) process, special education law, and provides tips for improving school success.

6. Work on your child’s behavior problems in school in relation to poor listening skills. Ways to improve your child’s listening skills can be found by clicking on the link.

7. Utilize good study tips and strategies. If your child has difficulties studying and doing homework, click on the above link to read some tips for helping your child do better with homework and studying. You may also try using homework charts to encourage homework completion.

8. Consider other options. For children that are kinesthetic learners, it can be very demanding to sit through a class that is solely based on visual and auditory learning. Should children be punished for their personal learning style?

Kinesthetic learners are usually good at sports, unable to sit for long periods of time, are fidgety during lectures, have bad handwriting, aren’t very good at spelling, need lots of study breaks, enjoy role playing, building things, science, adventure books, and loud music<span style='font-size: 50%'>(1). Do any of these sound familiar?

Little girl that is homeschooled due to school behavior problems holding gardening items

Your child may need to have alternative teaching methods from the traditional method of having to sit in a seat all day long. This by itself is enough to cause behavior problems in school for active children. One option may be to consider homeschooling your child.

This may sound like an extremely difficult task, but there are many home school based curricular available these days that make it very easy for you to teach your child.

This allows the opportunity to spend more quality time with your child and do more kinesthetic based learning, such as going to the zoo when learning about animals or local botanical gardens when learning about plants. This also eliminates any stress you may be experiencing as a result of your child's behavior problems in school.


1. Fleming, Grace. Learning Styles: Know and use your personal learning 12-1-09.

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