It’s perfectly normal for children to learn the rules and limits, and then try to test them. This is how most children understand consequences and the reasons why to follow the rules set out for them by family members, teachers, and later, society. However, there are some children who seem to have difficulty following those rules, often exhibiting signs of behavioural difficulties. There are often hidden causes for these behavioural issues, and addressing them can go a long way to improving your child’s learning experience.
Children who have sensory issues, such as spectrum disorders, attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or anxiety are especially at risk for feeling over-stimulated within the classroom. The bright lights, noisy environment, and the energy of his or her peers can make a child feel overwhelmed, causing issues with concentration. Over-stimulation can lead to impulse control issues, frustration, and acting out with tears or in angry outbursts. Children affected by over-stimulation may benefit from smaller class sizes or a quieter room in which to complete their assignments.
Undiagnosed Learning Challenges
Behaviour issues can crop up when children feel that they can’t keep up academically with their peers. Trouble reading, writing, or completing mathematical assignments may result in the child becoming frustrated, causing him or her to act out. Try to take note of which classes tend to cause your child the most aggravation, or which ones seem to be occurring when he or she exhibits behavioural issues, and speak with the teacher or other individual at the school to investigate the possibility of a learning disorder. It may also be that your child is merely bored with the tasks at hand. Even if your child thoroughly enjoys school, he or she may need to be challenged, or a different approach may need to be taken to ensure that boredom does not result in excessive behavioural issues.
Speech and Language Difficulties
Certain speech and language difficulties may not be apparent from a young age, and may only present themselves once your child begins to attend school regularly. Ask your child’s teacher to help you pay close attention to speech and language patterns, and watch for signs of difficulties experienced when reading aloud, answering questions, following directions, or in spontaneous speech. A speech and language assessment may be a good first step in addressing these issues.
Certain medical issues can cause a child to feel frustrated with school. This can be especially true with younger children, who may not know that there is a medical issue going on or who may lack the vocabulary and experience to articulate the concern. Poor eyesight, auditory troubles, or physical discomfort and pain may result in a child acting out, but unable to explain clearly why they are feeling frustrated. By having these issues addressed, with glasses or hearing aids, you may help get to the root of your child’s behavioural issues.
Children who feel accepted and who have a sense of belonging in the classroom, and at home, tend to perform better in school. If you notice your child is having issues, try and spend some time in the classroom, or speak with his or her teacher to investigate whether or not there may be greater social issues going on. Bullying, isolation, or a lack of connection with their teacher may cause your child to feel miserable at school, negatively impacting his or her ability to learn.
While being over-involved in your child’s life can cause behavioural issues of their own, children whose parents express an interest in their school routines and who actively help with homework on a regular basis also tend to perform better in school. These children feel more supported, and know that their parents will advocate for them if any of the above conditions are also present. Parents can help by reinforcing consequences for poor behaviour, and by keeping a warm, loving and open line of communication with their children. This will encourage the child to speak with you about troubles they may be experiencing, enabling you to address them.