What To Do About "Misbehavior" at School

I want to preface this by acknowledging that most teachers want the best for their students and do everything possible to make their classrooms safe and emotionally responsive environments. They are our heroes, leaders, and the ones who give us hope that one day, all children will receive the treatment they deserve. Sadly, this is not the case, especially in economically disadvantaged areas where resources are low and toxic stress is rampant.

Misbehavior in the classroom is a hot topic. 

I remember when my daughter started first grade, I wondered how she would cope with this new punitive environment 

How would she handle the stoplight system or the unintentional judgment? Would it be stressful for her?

It seems silly to worry, right? After all, I made it through school relatively unscathed (okay, that's debatable).

Unfortunately, for many kids, their behavior becomes the sole focus of their school career and affects everything from their self-concept and motivation to their academic performance

There is no shortage of stories of six-year-olds being handcuffed, arrested, and dragged down the hall, or traumatized middle-school kids being violently assaulted.

These incidents are extreme examples, but they represent a common discipline mindset which is traditionally fear-based, controlling, and punitive in its approach and one which usually escalates behavior instead of calming situations.

Children rightfully reject this kind of treatment.  
It seems that whenever children don’t comply with academic demands or when their behavior disrupts the school agenda, they are met with little empathy for their experience, especially if the behavior is recurring.

It's important to become aware of how our own behavior contributes to a child's sense of safety or fear - which influences their behavior more than our words or consequences.  

What kind of emotional climate are we creating? Let's create and advocate for more training and trauma-informed care in our schools and learning environments.

There are teachers who have created flexible classrooms, giving kids lots of room to make mistakes, and responding to the individual child's experience, and not solely behavior. 

And, there are some teachers who expect children to display reliable and consistent control of their behavior regardless of how restrictive the environment is, how stimulated (or overstimulated) they are, and without consideration of the unique developmental timeline of the child. 

Many schools are in desperate need of classrooms which are socially and emotionally responsive. Teachers are trying to teach children who are too stressed, bored or overstimulated by the environment to learn. 

A battle for control ensues. 


While teachers are trying to maintain control so they can teach - many children are struggling to control their fight or flight response so they can feel calm enough to learn. 

In this video, I share a submitted parent question which highlights the challenges so many parents face once their kids start school. 

If your child has had trouble managing behavior or difficulty adjusting to the classroom rules or the social aspects of school, then check out this video for tips, and my staunch support of YOU and your child. Here's what you can do about that perceived "misbehavior" at school!

http://ctt.ec/eak6bSometimes you have to do what's best for your child and not what's best for everyone else. (TWEET IT!)

Teachers need new strategies to help them support the needs of children if we want them to
let go of behaviorally-focused discipline and evaluation. 

We can't tell a child to behave.

We must show them how to manage themselves through a combination of emotional awareness, respectful communication, stress-relieving tools, and relational support.

What do you think? 

Has your child's behavior at school resulted in notes sent home, after-school calls, daily behavioral assessments, or punitive consequences?  

Share your story in the comments below and let our community help you reframe the limiting labels into positive action.

Thanks so much for reading and please remember it's about being conscious - not perfect!

Talk soon,



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