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Simple Ways to Influence Your Child's School Behavior

Ms. Dora is a parent, grandparent, and Christian counselor who offers suggestions on raising confident, compassionate, responsible children.

A parent's parting word or gesture can influence the child's behavior throughout the day. Photo by Spc. Iesha Howard

A parent's parting word or gesture can influence the child's behavior throughout the day. Photo by Spc. Iesha Howard

Which parent has not been surprised by the report of a child's behavior that was far different from the parent's expectation? Despite the training they receive, children misbehave away from home—particularly at school.

The list of reasons cited by Amy Morin, Discipline Expert on About Parenting, can be summarized as follows. They misbehave because:

  • They are unable to verbalize what they feel.
  • They decide to imitate their friends.
  • They try to test the authority figure in the room.
  • They expect their misbehavior to get them something they want.
  • They have mental health issues (for example, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)).

It helps for the teacher and parent to figure out the reason for the child's behavior. Then, in addition to specific appropriate measures, the following six suggestions can be implemented with the parents' creativity according to the child's age.

1. Establish a Daily Send-Off Ritual

The stay-at-home parent may engage in the ritual just before the child leaves the house. The working parent may perform his routine before leaving for work. It may take just one minute, but it will influence the child’s behavior throughout the day and eventually for a lifetime.

Include some form of touch—a hug, a squeeze, a high five—and declare your approval (blessing) for him or her to excel that day in good conduct and good work. Assure the child that while you are separated, you will be thinking of him, praying for him, and working toward a better life for him. Remind him that you will have time later to talk about the happenings of the day.

Often that sense of connectedness is the only stabilizer the child needs to prevent a negative outburst, knowing that he will have the opportunity to talk through his difficulties with a loving, caring parent.

2. Become Acquainted With the Teacher

Sometime during the first week of school, send a note to the homeroom teacher commending her for choosing to help build character in the lives of young citizens. Let her know that she can count on your support, especially with reference to the education of your child. Include your contact information and give her permission to share it with any other teacher. Encourage her to reach out to you whenever she thinks it necessary.

The fact that there is open communication between you and the teacher will influence your child to be on his best behavior. He will think twice before imitating an unruly friend or trying to test his limits with the teacher. Your note will also put you in a good light when you introduce yourself at the parent-teacher meeting, and the teacher greets you like an old friend.

Give the child opportunity to talk with a loving, caring parent.

Give the child opportunity to talk with a loving, caring parent.

3. Discuss Before You Fuss

In primary school, my son was always pushing his desk back and forth, which his teacher thought was for the sole purpose of making noise. She was right. He was an auditory learner, uncomfortable with silence and quite comfortable with sounds that might distract the visual learner. The teacher was also frustrated that he never seemed to look at her when she spoke.

His report card showed poor conduct even though his grades were perfect. Clearly, that bad conduct mark was reason to fuss; it was unlikely for a child with good grades. So should I fuss with the teacher or with the child? Fussing with either one might not have resulted in his good behavior, but identifying and explaining his learning style did.

I took the opportunity to explain the seeming conflict between a visual teacher and an auditory learner. I also explained to my child his obligation to cooperate with the teacher, to be respectful, responsible and cooperative. He knew then that his behavior was a personal concern for both the teacher and me.

4. Show Interest in the Friends

Throughout your child’s school life, friends will influence his behavior. Don’t you wish that you could influence theirs? Unfortunately, that is not your responsibility; instead, focus on influencing your child’s judgment on his choice of friends. Here are a few questions that will show that you are interested:

  • Do the friends play well together, or do they fight?
  • Do the friends cooperate with the teacher, or do they often get in trouble?
  • Is your child able to refuse participation in an activity he does not like without being threatened or bullied?
  • Has the teacher ever warned anyone to stay away from any of his friends?
  • Do they encourage each other to do the right thing?

Your child will interpret your interest in his friends as interest in his welfare. Hopefully, he will realize that pleasing you brings better dividends than pleasing his friends so that if there is a clash between the way his friends behave and the way you want him to behave, he will do what pleases you. This is ideal, and your child may not always make the right choice, but your continual interest may eventually influence his judgment positively.

Join the child sometimes and watch television episodes together.

Join the child sometimes and watch television episodes together.

5. Moderate Media Messages

Join the child sometimes and watch television episodes together. No matter the storyline, there will be opportunity for teaching moments. Even the news reports carry stories worthy of opinions.

For one minute during the commercial, recall illustrations of good versus bad behavior, respect versus disrespect, and wisdom versus foolishness. These incidental lessons come back to mind powerfully when the child has to make decisions—even in the classroom.

Discuss tweets, texts, and website information and images as much as the child would allow during daily conversations. If you make the effort to introduce these topics subtly and show interest in these activities, the child may surprise you with how much he has to say. Make short, empowering statements that he will remember and act on during his day at school.

6. Reward Good Character

Children (and adults) have been known to put on good behavior for other than good reasons. They may be kind to one individual in an effort to spite another, or they may fake good behavior until they receive the promised reward. For this reason, be sure to emphasize good character principles when you reward good actions.

  • Emphasize diligence in the reward for good grades.
  • Emphasize obedience, cooperation, or whatever is the appropriate motivation in the reward for good behavior.

Teach that the motives and character principles that made his action commendable are transferable and are important in every classroom, every school year.

© 2015 Dora Weithers


Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on August 27, 2017:

Besarien, I share your respect for teachers. They would do even better with the cooperation of parents. Thanks for your input.

Besarien from South Florida on August 27, 2017:

Oh, Ms. Dora, I wish all the parents in the world would read this! I wish all the parents of the kids my son went to school with had. You are so right about every step. I watched some of those kids stalking into school like wild animals someone let out of their cages. I couldn't imagine trying to teach them anything. I blame that on their parents. I don't envy teachers but respect them for trying.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on September 09, 2016:

Thanks Kyriaki, for your feedback. Thanks also for the invaluable contribution you make to the young lives in your care. Have a happy, productive 2016-17 school year!

Kyriaki Chatzi on September 09, 2016:

Being an elementary school teacher, I can say with confidence that this piece is 1000% accurate and on-spot. All of your suggestions are great ways to educate a child when it comes to social behavior and image. I have to congratulate you for mentioning the collaboration between teacher and parents. Most parents seem to ignore the dynamic influence that such collaboration can have on a child's behavior. Amazing Hub!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on May 05, 2016:

RTalloni, praying for them is so important. I wrote an article on 50 One-liners to Pray for the Children. Mothers cannot be bored; we have children to pray for all day.

RTalloni on May 05, 2016:

Children are influenced by their parents in one way or another. Doing it mindfully is important, meaning your list of ways to positively help them grow up well is really important. My tip at the moment: praying for them is something we cannot do too often!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 23, 2016:

Hey Missy, I know about those mommy notes, and how children react differently at different ages and stages. You seem to be doing really well with keeping up your influence on your son's school life. I applaud you and pray the best for you going forward.

Missy Smith from Florida on March 23, 2016:

Hey MsDora, this article caught my eye, because my son, who is 9 now, does not like school. There are times where he comes home and has had a good day, but a lot of times, he gets into the car after school and just seems mad that he had to go.

I believe I practice all your above tips well, except #5. I don't totally do this wrong, but I don't do this right either. When my son was smaller, I did engage more with him when it came to television, he liked to watch cartoons a lot, and we would sit and watch Dora or Diego, all the shows on Sprout, and then when he got a little older we watched the Pokemon cartoon, and Ben 10 together.

Now that he is 9, and I decided I would upgrade his game system to a Playstation 4 this year, it has changed a lot. He's a good student. He makes no lower than a B.. However, up until this year, he was a straight-A student. I think the gaming is taking over a bit. Although, I do still try to put limits on it, he now gets to engage with other kids his age around the globe, and he absolutely loves that. I'm always amazed at how many kids are on this thing constantly.

Anyway, this is where I am failing I believe, since I never had a big issue with the system, he had before, the wii u, he went to bed on time, and he took breaks. This one is taking over, and I really have to get mean in order to get him to mind. I am afraid it will drop his grades, and I feel it's unhealthy.

I will continue to keep trying. The only thing I haven't done is totally take it away. I have made him not play for days at a time, but I believe I will have to get stricter and just have a month at least away from it.

We used to go outside and have picnics on the trampoline. We would walk around taking pictures of butterflies, and birds. In the morning, we would leave early for school in order to catch the sun coming up over the clouds. It's always been important for me to show my children beauty; to take time and notice the little things that are so pretty.

Anyway, this is where I am at in my parenting. One of those struggles that we all face in life with our children I think. I know I will figure it out.

This was a very nice hub, and a very important one for parents to read. I've always enjoyed putting little mommy loves you notes in their lunchboxes. lol. I still do that, I think it embarrasses them though. :)

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 26, 2015:

Pacesetter, I agree with your perspective on the importance of rewards. Thank you for your valuable input.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 26, 2015:

Pacesetter, first I will try to answer your question. Once a year the HubPages community is asked to vote on Hubs and Hubbers in various categories. The winners receive Hubbie Awards. For the list of categories and the 2015 winners, copy the following link into your browser (add [http://] in front) and get all the information. Hope it helps; if not, please let me know.

Lawal Abiodun from Houston, Texas. on October 26, 2015:

Please, what is the Hubbie Award?

Lawal Abiodun from Houston, Texas. on October 26, 2015:

This is indeed a great article, especially for parents and teachers. I think "giving rewards" is actually the best way to enhance a child's behavior in school and at home. Whenever a child is given a reward for a good behavior, the child believes that the reward is actually an encouragement to keep acting good. But apart from just giving the reward, the child also know the reason he/she garnered such reward. The "reason" is more important than the reward itself.

But if we actually look at this from a different perspective, we would see that some children tend to pretend they have good behaviors, just for the essence of receiving a reward which is very bad because such child will grow up to be a pretender and also a liar. So I think the only way we can avoid this is to put a static limit to the rewards given and always remember to tell them the reasons for such reward.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on September 19, 2015:

Thanks Romeos. I appreciate your insights on this topic. Never really thought of experience as unforgiving, but I can see it now. Better to spend time training the children when they are young, than having to spend time later helping them get out of trouble. Best to you, too.

Romeos Quill from Lincolnshire, England on September 19, 2015:

A very instructive article MsDora as always, and think that Parent/Teacher associations, when they are made use of, are a good idea ( though can only presently look at it from the viewpoint of when I was a kid ). A frequent liaison of this nature surely has to be a good thing for all concerned.

The problems I've seen are the parents with larger families and physically just do not have the time to give their attention to each and every child in this area where their educational achievement is in the balance ( though debatable as to whether they should make the time ), and as a result, some children's behaviour becometh questionable and occasionally derelict, having to learn from that unforgiving teacher known as 'experience'.

This saying springs to mind:-

" Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." ( Proverbs 22:6 - K.J.V. ).

Great Hub and well done on achieving your latest Hub accolade!

Best wishes;


Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on September 17, 2015:

Thanks Audrey. The more we [parents and teachers] work together, the better results we could achieve.

Audrey Howitt from California on September 16, 2015:

I loved that this is such a collaborative process in this article--we need to work with teachers to get the best outcomes for our children--really a wonderful hub!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on September 14, 2015:

Flourish, thanks especially for sharing that information. It is helpful to the teacher, but it also helps them prejudge the child. Parents can never do too much to influence the child's behavior.

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 14, 2015:

I learned recently that at least local teachers have a file kept separate from the official file that keeps notes on each kid's behavior and gives the real scoop. The file travels with the kid from teacher to teacher, grade to grade. It alerts teachers to behavior problems, over involved or uninvolved parents or home situations, etc, once a child develops a certain reputation it would be hard to escape the label, it would seem. Your pointers are solid for heading off concerns.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on September 13, 2015:

Teaches, your comment is extremely valuable coming from an expert like you are. Thank you.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on September 13, 2015:

Thanks Sheyi. Welcome to HubPages and I look forward to reading your content.

Dianna Mendez on September 12, 2015:

This is good advice, Ms Dora. Parents who communicate with their child's teacher are the ones who will understand how to make their education experience successful.

Sheyi kojo on September 11, 2015:

This content is so rich and very interesting.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on September 11, 2015:

Thanks DDE. Always good to see you; let's just keep on keeping on.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on September 11, 2015:

Congratulation on winning the award! You have great talent! All my best to you. Another informative and helpful hub from you.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on September 08, 2015:

Thanks, Alicia. I appreciate your support.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 07, 2015:

Thank you for sharing the good advice, Dora. Congratulations once again on your Hubbie award!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on September 07, 2015:

Thanks Shauna. I will keep on trying to deserve it.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on September 07, 2015:

Dora, congratulations on your well-deserved Hubbie Award!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on September 06, 2015:

Thanks Manatita. Your idea of bringing friends and also the happiness themes in your Sri Chinmoy schools are both insightful..Blessings to you, too,

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on September 06, 2015:

Shauna, thanks for your contribution. I appreciate you sharing from your experience with your son. You implemented some wise ideas. You last sentence is a very good summary.

manatita44 from london on September 06, 2015:

Bringing in friends and intermediaries, perhaps. But hey, I don't know much.

We have two Montesori schools in the Sri Chinmoy Centre. One in New Zealand and one in Washinton, DC. As far as I know, both are exceptional. Every morning begins with positive affirmations, and a short silence, and even some of the subjects like Reading, for instance, has lots of ideas on the theme of happiness.

I understand that some universities in America, and a few schools here in England, have begun to incorporate this approach, as it has turned out to be a successful model. Nice Hub for parents and family. Blessings from the One this peaceful week-end, Dee.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on September 06, 2015:

My son was ADHD all through school. Each year I'd meet the teacher and discuss this with him/her. I asked to have my son seated up front to help with his attention and behavior. Twice a year we'd have meetings with the teacher and school counselor to review progress, alternative class situations and devise a plan for the coming year. He was mainstreamed for most of his classes, with the exception of math. He also took behavioral classes that were offered to students with learning disabilities.

When he was little, we'd have a weekly calendar posted on the fridge. We'd assign little tasks for each day and he'd get a star when they were successfully completed. At the end of the week, he'd get a reward. It could be anything from going on an outing to earning a dollar for a full week of stars.

What really helped him was joining JROTC when he was in high school. It helped him focus, provided discipline, and made him proud of himself as he earned military ranks. He was on the drill team, which helped with coordination and focus. JROTC did wonders for his self-esteem. It also built a sense of respect for others and he was respected as a result.

Parents must be involved in their children's lives away from home. It can be as stressful for them as it is for us when we're separated for extended periods of time. Letting them know they're loved and being active with the school, communicating with teachers is paramount to the success of all children regardless of whether or not they have learning or social disabilities.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on September 04, 2015:

Whonu, that psalm is one of my favorites too. It is a really a good reading to include in blessing the children. I like that song as well. Thank you for sharing.

whonunuwho from United States on September 04, 2015:

Psalm 91 is my favorite and has helped me through tough times...just reading and realizing its significance...A mighty fortress is our God...whonu

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on September 04, 2015:

Doc, I believe in that blessing. Joel Osteen said that him mom read Psalm 91 over the children as her daily ritual, and he memorized it just by hearing it repeatedly.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on September 04, 2015:

Denise, thanks for sharing that idea. It is very wise and I endorse it. Thank you for sharing.

Yvette Stupart PhD from Jamaica on September 04, 2015:

Thanks for the great parenting ideas, MsDora. I really like the idea of the daily ritual of sending my child off to school especially in the form of a blessing.

Denise W Anderson from Bismarck, North Dakota on September 04, 2015:

In addition to the sending of a note to the school at the beginning of the school year to the teacher, I would take my child to the school and meet the teacher before class even begins. This gives an opportunity to make that vital teacher/parent connection with the child present, solidifying that we are working together for the education of this child. Teachers appreciate a heads up if a child has learning issues. Talking about how the child learns best gives them a chance to be successful before behavioral issues come to the forefront.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on September 04, 2015:

Thanks, Frank. I miss the voting slots also. I appreciate your kind comment.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on September 04, 2015:

top notch as always MsDora.. you realy know how to keep up with the new times would have voted useful..but couldn't :(

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on September 03, 2015:

Faith, thanks for reading and sharing. We all made mistakes, but thank God for the opportunity to counsel those who come after us from our experiences. I share your joy in receiving another hubbie! Thanks.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on September 03, 2015:

What an important hub here that all parents of young children should read. I will be sharing this with my son. He now has two daughters in school, one Kindergarten and the other in Second Grade.

I could have used this wise advise when mine were very young, but I did always take time to know who their friends were and discussed things over with them about any issues at school without just jumping to punish them without listen to their side of the story, as well as the teacher's. So, true, they sure don't always behalf like you would think. First time parents always learn a lot the hard way LOL

Again, congrats on your Hubbie!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on September 03, 2015:

Patricia, I hope that some parents will read your comment. There is always another side to consider. Thanks for your contribution.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on September 03, 2015:

Jackie, I can tell that you're a wise mom. Happy that you got through that situation with your daughter and you're right about behavior influencing the grades. Thank you for sharing.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on September 03, 2015:

Thanks for your comment, Martin. The very best to you and your junior high schooler; praying that she responds favorably to your positive influence.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on September 03, 2015:

Behavior is a universal issue with parents, children, and teachers.

Encouraging and hearing your child---really listening to what they say---helps a lot.

Letting the teacher know you are concerned and supportive does help.

However it is also important to know that some teachers just are not fair. I am not a teacher basher---I am actually very protective of teachers because I taught for 40+ years and managing behavior was a strength of mine.

So I feel I can make the above remark with some degree of assurance. There were some, and let me underscore some, few even, who were not fair to kids. They would single out children and find things wrong with their behavior when there really was not a problem. A minor issue often can escalate into a HUGE one when a teacher refuses to acknowledge all of the positive things a child does and focuses only on even the tiniest infractions.

Parents and caregivers, you have a voice. And you have an important role to involved, know what is happening at school.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts here ....this is indeed an important issue.

Angels are on the way to you ps

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on September 03, 2015:

I always thought, for myself anyway, and shared with my kids the idea that when a teacher is deciding between an A & B for grade that behavior could no doubt be the deciding factor and it seems they listened to me. I did have an incident or two with my daughter when she first started making up wild tales about her bus ride home, etc., which we took serious at first with her being thrown to the floor and the driver said, "Do you wanna live or die?" We got quite a laugh out of it behind her back once we found out there was absolutely no truth to it and got her straightened out in a little while.

Congrats on your Hubbie!

Martin D Gardner from Virginia Beach on September 03, 2015:

All great advice as I send my youngest off to junior high school.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on September 03, 2015:

Thanks, Whonu. I share your hope; all won't but I hope those who do receive some benefit.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on September 03, 2015:

I hear you, Bill. I know that to be true and also know that parents need to put more effort into influencing the child while he is away.

whonunuwho from United States on September 03, 2015:

A very nice and well written work my friend, and well received. I do hope all parents read this. whonu

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 03, 2015:

All great suggestions, Dora. As a former teacher, I can definitely say there is a huge difference between a parent's perception of their child and the reality of that child at school.