By Debra Collins, Family therapist
My daughter is in second grade. She has been having behavior problems at school since the school year began. She has not been listening, talking in class and talking back to the teacher. She doesn't act out at home, nor at the after-school daycare she goes to. This behavior is uncharacteristic for her. She is usually such a great joy to everyone around her. She has always been the teacher's favorite student in kindergarten and first grade. She has the same second grade teacher as she had for first grade.
There are no changes in the household or in our lives that might be the cause. I have tried grounding her, talking with her, time outs, and I spoke extensively with her teacher. The teacher is unsure of the cause, since she is not disturbed by classmates sitting next to her and no one is picking on her. I am really at a loss as to what to do to turn her behavior around.
The only thing that I could possibly think of, is that maybe the material is too advanced for her, and she could be frustrated. Last year her teacher and I worked very hard with her on her reading skills, to make sure she didn't get left behind. Only this year has she been uncooperative in class.
It sounds like you have a good relationship with the teacher and that both of you have examined all the possibilities for your daughter's change in behavior.
Here are a few more things to consider: Start by getting information from your daughter. We often forget that children do have some insight into their problems, but need help expressing it. Be curious about the shifts in her behavior by asking her what is the same and what is different about first and second grade. Children are less defensive when asked in this way rather than asking "why" questions.
You state that she was "the teacher's favorite student" in first grade and that she has this same teacher now. Is it possible that your child expects certain privileges that her teacher is no longer providing? Or, if your daughter is now doing better academically, because of the support she received last year, she might be missing the extra attention from her teacher. These are issues worth exploring.
However, if your daughter is still having academic difficulties, your question that the material may be too advanced might well lead you to the cause of her acting out. Therefore, testing for learning disabilities would be helpful to determine if she needs modification in the classroom to help her succeed academically and reduce her frustration.
Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.
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