Behavior Tips for School
“First Grade”

How to Help Your Child Behave in School

Here are five common-sense techniques that will help you motivate your child to behave in school.

1.  Tell your child how you expect him or her to behave in school.
Speak clearly and directly.  Sit down with your child and in a no-nonsense, serious manner let him or her know that you are the parent, and you set the rules.  Look your child in the eyes and say:  "There is no way I am going to tolerate your misbehavior at school.  I know that you can behave. I care about you and love you too much to allow you to continue acting this way at school."

It is very important that you remain calm while speaking.  Do not yell or scream your demands.  Speak in a firm, clear tone of voice.  By staying calm you will let your child know you are in control.

2.  Avoid arguments.  Use the Broken-Record technique.
When you tell your child to do something, chances are you will get an argument back.  Do not fall into the trap of arguing with your child.  Arguing is not useful.  Nobody wins.  You must stick to your point and let your child know that you mean business.  A technique called the Broken-Record will help you avoid fruitless arguments.

Here is how to use the Broken-Record technique:

    First, tell your child exactly what you want him or her to do.  For example,  "I expect you to complete
    your assignments during class."
    If your child argues, just keep repeating what you want.  Do not respond to anything your child
    says.  Just say, "I understand, but I want you to complete your assignments in class."
    Use the Broken-Record a maximum of three times.  If it does not work, stop the conversation. If
    the problem persists, you will have to take stronger actions.  You will need to back up your words
    with actions.

3.  Back up your words with actions.
If your child chooses to continue to misbehave, you must be ready to back up your words with actions.  This means that you must have disciplinary consequences chosen that you will use if your child still does not behave.  The consequence must be something that your child does not like, but it must not be physically or psychologically harmful.  Taking away privileges, such as watching TV if often effective.

Follow these guidelines:

4.  Know what to do when your child begins testing you.
Children often test their parents to see if they really mean business. Do not be surprised if this happens to you.  When given a consequence, your child may cry, scream or yell at you, or beg you to give him or her just one more chance.  Stand your ground.  No matter how much your child cries or pleads, you must follow through with the consequence.  Do not give in, no matter how upset your child gets.  Let your child know that you are prepared to follow through.

Tell your child: (for example)  "You have chosen to be grounded in your room.  You will go to your room and stay there."

5.  Catch your child being good.
Praise your child when he or she behaves appropriately at school.  This is the real key to improving behavior.  All children appreciate hearing praise from parents, and yours is no exception.

Follow these guidelines:

    First,  give your child plenty of praise when he or she begins to show improvement.  You need to let
    your child know that you recognize the good effort being made.  Do not ever let a day of good
    behavior go unnoticed. Tell your child:  "I like how well you did at school today.  I am so proud of
    you for trying so hard."

    Next, keep in mind that sometimes it is helpful to combine your praise with special privileges or
    rewards like staying up late one night, going out to lunch, or going to a movie, whatever your child
    might appreciate and you are comfortable giving.  Ask yourself and ask your child what the special
    reward could be.

    *Be consistent in giving praise.  Your child must know that, just as he or she can expect
    disciplinary consequences for misbehavior, he or she can also expect lots of praise and reinforcement
    for good behavior.

The ideas above were adapted from Parents On Your Side by Lee Canter and Associates