Last year ended in a huff. When school let out, the pressure was off and the behaviour subsided. Some kids don’t fare well at school.

Come the new school year, parents worry and wonder, “Will it be different this year?”

Maybe the situation will be different: Perhaps maturation over the summer; perhaps the first day of school pep talk or warning; maybe a different teacher; it may be a new school.

By the end of the first month and certainly by the second month you know. But what if things haven’t changed? What if school related problems persist?

If this is your story, then it is time for professional help.

Parents may seek professional help from the school itself or from community resources or from private supports.

Regardless of where you seek help, please do seek help.

A child doing poorly at school on an ongoing basis runs the risk of falling further and further behind. This compounds their difficulties. The child feels buried in a mountain of work and becomes increasingly overwhelmed. As the child becomes increasingly overwhelmed, behavior escalates in a bid to escape their troubling situation. They cannot cope.

This is where intervention by the parent is crucial. As much as your child may resist your efforts to help, they cannot steer the ship. The child must rely on us to take over the helm. We must recognize that the child at present does not have the skill set to master their situation.

In seeking professional help, the first place to go is directly to the teacher who too may feel exasperated or defeated in their efforts to support your child. Resist blaming the teacher and understand the enormity of their task, managing a large group of students with limited resources. Hear what the teacher has to say about your child’s difficulties and ask for guidance.

You do not have to believe the teacher to be right in his or her views about your child’s difficulty. However, explore the teacher’s point of view and seek help as may be suggested. You will at least then be in a position to confirm or reject the input on the basis of sound evidence rather than an alternate point of view. Even if wrong, in exploring the teacher’s guidance you will have narrowed the list of possible contributors to your child’s challenges which in turn can lead to a more correct analysis of the situation.

Beyond the teacher and the resources the school has to offer, you can also turn to your family doctor, a community counseling agency or a psychologist or social worker in private practice.

Along the way, consider exploring these top contributors to child behaviour issues at school:

1) Undiagnosed vision or hearing problems;
2) Undiagnosed learning challenges;
3) Too much screen time;
4) Bullying that persists over time;
5) Issues within the family such as parental conflict, drug or alcohol abuse or domestic violence, unresolved parental separation;
6) Economic hardship.

Bear in mind, kids typically want to do well. They seek to be loved, supported and to be kept safe from harm or exposure to harmful events. Given their young age, they are more limited in their skills and capacities to overcome adverse conditions. Also given their young age, they will have less skill at articulating their issues, concerns and needs.

When your child is struggling at school, believe that underneath your child feels scared and lost regardless of what they tell you. If we keep that in mind, we can be less perturbed by the overt behavior and then more apt to hold them close to lead them to help and safety.

Author's Bio: 

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
(905) 628-4847
Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America and was the first social worker to sit on the Ontario Board for Collaborative Family Law.