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My Child Is "Labeled" as Bad

Education Expert Advice from Peggy Gisler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S.

Q: My son always seems to be in trouble at school. No matter what he does, he gets a detention. This has carried over from last year, when he had a belittling teacher who always put him in detention. His information was sent over to the middle school to watch out for him. How do we get the "label" off our child? I have a meeting with his teachers to discuss this problem.

A: Be realistic. Your son's actions in school are the main reason why he has been labeled. Maybe last year's teacher did not help the situation, but it is very difficult to believe that this teacher is causing his current problems in middle school. Your son's records did follow him and do speak loud and clear to every one of his middle-school teachers. However, most of these teachers probably hoped that he had matured over the summer and that being in a different environment would help him overcome the problems he had in elementary school.

At the meeting with your son's teachers, you need to find out exactly why he is getting detention. He should also be at this meeting to hear what the teachers have to say and to explain his actions. Hopefully, you and your son will be able to work with the teachers to develop a plan that will improve his behavior and reduce the number of detentions. However, as much as you want your son not to be labeled, it is his responsibility, not yours, to make the effort to erase this label. Your son will try harder to behave at school if you support his teachers' efforts to improve his behavior. You might remove a valued privilege every time he gets detention.

Often, a child's behavior reflects that something besides school is really bothering him. Has your son had any major changes in his life, such as the death of a relative or close friend, or a divorce? How does your son get along with the children in the neighborhood? Does he have a lot of friends? Does he participate in any activities outside of school where he is an accepted part of the group? You should definitely share the answers to these questions with his teachers at the meeting. It is important for your son to get the help he needs to behave appropriately at school.

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Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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