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Is my child a troublemaker?

WebMD Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

When does natural childhood exuberance fall into the troublemaker category?

"It's not his fault, it's his friend, it's her teacher, it's that school! Occasionally it's time to stop making excuses for your child's behaviour and do something about it.

At some point in their school lives many kids will lie, fight or disturb the class but if that behaviour becomes the norm rather than a one off, your child may be branded a troublemaker.

It's hard to admit that your child is causing trouble at school. It's a parent's natural inclination to protect their children and stand up for them but sometimes you have to face reality.

Talk to the child

"Talk to your child directly - get him to tell his side of the story," says parenting and wellbeing coach, Naomi Martell-Bundock. "Keep an open mind, keep calm and don't jump to conclusions."

Parenting author and expert Karen Doherty agrees: "By far the best thing to do if your child is getting into trouble at school is to talk to your child and find out what is behind it. They are sure to have their reasons.

"The best approach is to listen without criticising their behaviour, or you might find they are less inclined to tell you what's going on in future. Then ask if there are other ways they could handle the situation that might work better."

Talk to the school

It's a horrible feeling, having the school ring you and point the finger at your child. It's hard not to take it as a personal attack on you and your parenting, so it's very easy to be on the defensive.
That's not going to help anyone, most of all your child.

Siobhan Freegard, founder of the parenting website Netmums says: "When your child is causing trouble at school, it can make you feel like a bad parent.

"Don't despair, as you are certainly not alone. The latest Netmums study showed over half of parents have had to talk to the school about issues with their children by the time they reach 16."

"Don't go into school all guns blazing, says Naomi: "The best way is to go into school and ask, 'what can I do to help this situation? What can my child do? And what can the school do?'"

If the behaviour is only happening in school, they may have a better idea of what's causing the bad behaviour.

It may be something that's happening in the playground, in a particular lesson; it may be about friendship issues.

If your child gets detention for being disruptive in class, let him serve it out. When your child consistently has to face the consequences of his actions, he'll eventually learn to be accountable. By protecting your child you are not doing him any favours.

Psychologist Cliff Arnall says: "If your child has been found causing trouble it needs to be established whether they understand what they have done wrong - then they must take responsibility and apologise sincerely."

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