Behavior at School

Why does my child act out?

Many children act out at school and are often punished for their behavior. Here are some tips to understand the reasons and learn how to help them.Principal.png

What is the real cause? 

The first step is to explore the reasons. Why is your child really acting out? Many children who are frustrated by learning challenges react with what’s seen as bad behavior. 

It could be any of these common triggers:


  • stressed in school
  • struggling with learning
  • uncomfortable in social situations
  • self-conscious about physical abilities

You don’t know until you ask and explore. Sometimes it could be as simple as needing more sleep or more frequent snacks throughout the day. Look at the big picture: what may be making them unhappy?

How to find out:


  • Ask the teacher when these behaviors happen. Is it during certain kinds of activities or times of day? Look for patterns that can give you a clue.
  • Talk to your child. Ask about their emotional state: are they uncomfortable, frustrated or stressed about anything?
  • Check with the doctor to rule out medical causes. It could be that they need glasses or have trouble hearing.
  • See if they may have trouble with certain academic skills. They may have a learning disability or developmental disability.
  • See if they struggle with physical skills like holding a pencil or catching a ball.
  • If they are already getting special education services or accommodations, make sure these are being done consistently. Or maybe you need a team meeting to adjust the services and interventions.
  • The school can do an assessment. See below. 

What can the school do to help?

  • Assess your child’s needs for different learning strategies.
  • Put in place some different teaching strategies or interventions.
  • Change some aspects of the classroom setting or schedule (accommodations)
  • Have your child work with the school counselor
  • Do a formal assessment called an FBA: Functional Behavior Assessment. See below.
  • Create a formal Behavior Plan, based on the results of the FBA 

If your child is on an IEP:

  • Add behavior-related goals 

If not:

  • Can still make a behavior plan

What can you do to help?


    Explore educational services and supports
  • Monitor and make sure the supports are happening
  • Assure your child that it is not their fault.
  • Keep track of child’s emotional health (See next page?) 

Learn more:

Was this article helpful?
0 out of 0 found this helpful