Behavior Problem with 10 Year Old Daughter at School

Updated on October 18, 2012
L.M. asks from Altamonte Springs, FL
15 answers

Hello - my daughter is 10 and in the 5th grade. NEVER have I ever had a teacher say one word negative about her. She's always got A's & B's, etc. This year my daughter got a teacher she doesn't like , she is the oldest teacher and is strict (my daughters words) - well , she has gotten 2 notes home for talking back / speaking out in class / not following directions in the past month. My daughter says the teacher will call on everyone else except her, hence the speaking out. Believe me, I have spoken to my daughter about respecting the teacher, no talking back, following directions, as well as her Dad has spoke to her. I also spoke to the teacher on the phone - she said my daughter is a leader, very, very smart and strong willed. She said she senses that she is "resisting" her - she said my daughter likes to do things her own way, and even said she likes to tell her (the teacher) how she thinks things should be done. Also she said that when she corrects my daughter that she is very respectful and DOES do what she is supposed to do. I guess just the 1st time around she gives her problems.

What should I do? I want a punishment that will TEACH her - I mean, going to bed early, I did take away TV... but I want to do something meaningful that will get through to her. I have told her, she will have MANY teachers she doesn't like before she graduates....she has to learn to handle that.

PS - at home, she does talk back occasionally and she gets reprimended for it. But she is a good kid. She doesn't do much wrong.

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

I wanted to add - I didn't actually punish her. I was saying taking away TV, going to bed early .. I don't think those punishments actually "fit" and would not teach her anything. I called the teacher this morning & left a message to set up a conference. I am considering asking about switching classes.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Threaten to spend a day at school with her if possible. Tell her you'll sit in the classroom to monitor her behavior. Eat lunch with her and her friends. Probably won't take long for her to agree she has to follow the teacher's rules or deal with her *embarrassing* parents babysitting her at school. If threatening doesn't work, do it!

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answers from Minneapolis on

I totally disagree with the people saying to switch classes, etc. I can totally picture what your daughter is doing and she needs to learn that even if it seems totally stupid she still has to follow the rules. As a mother of grown children I have seen this happen with some of my own and their friends. Your daughter is the age where she is thinking maybe she is the boss, she needs to learn differently. I personally would have her write an apology to the teacher for being disrespectful and take her in to personally hand it to the teacher. It doesn't mean she is bad kid, just a kid who is a preteen and acting like it. I'm all for girls questioning things and not just following the group but they need to learn when and how to express themselves without being disrespectful.

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answers from Minneapolis on

I'm glad you didn't punish her at home, I agree that TV time or whatever doesn't have anything to do with her behavior at school. Please don't ask to switch her to a different class. The only thing she learns from that is that when faced with a difficult teacher or boss in the future, Mom will fix it. She doesn't learn to accept any responsibility for her part in the teacher-student relationship. When she gets a note back, I would have her apologize to the teacher and work very hard to make a better choice the next time the same scenario arises.

My 8th grader has one teacher this year that she really struggles with. This teacher is "not fair" She sweetly allows other students to go back to their locker for materials or grants extentions whereas my DD gets told angrily "no" or gets an incomplete if she forgets her work. I can imagine your DD feels a lot like mine when everyone around gets called on but her. I do believe teachers do this intentionally to demonstrate that better behavior gets better treatment. A very true life lesson. Whether or not my DD realizes it, her non-verbals send out messages of disrespect even when she is quite her she hasn't done anything wrong. My DD had made up her mind she doesn't like this teacher her attitude spoke volumes. When we got an email about her disrespectful behavior, DH and I talked to her. Both teacher and parents agree she will not get what she wants out of life by being disrespectful. My DD has a hard time not overreacting and letting go of her anger when she is frustrated by a correction. We told her she needed to go in and apologize to her teacher the very next day. At first she refused. When we told her she was grounded from privileges until she complied, she relented but screamed she wasn't going to mean it. Again, her reacting in anger. Too bad, it's our job as parents to make sure she does what is right. The next morning, very calmly she asked me for a ride to school so she could apologize to her teacher. Later in the day I saw the teacher who was so pleased to let me know that she did apologize and seemed very sincere. DD also asked her teacher if they could start over with each other. Teacher agreed to that. So far now, so good.

The night we talked my DD was really mad at me for not going up to the school with a "how dare you treat my baby unfairly" attitude. She asked me why I couldn't take her side against this teacher like other parents have done. Not surprised because this teacher is very strict. Her standards are the highest in the school. I'm sure a lot of parents are quick to blame the teacher when she calls a student out on something when the other teachers have not. We had a big discussion about how DD needs to be able to show respect to people (especially adults in positions of authority) even when she does not like them. I told my DD that she holds all the cards to mend a bad student-teacher relationship. It is not something I can do for her.

If you are going into a conference, please have your DD in attendance, and let her tell her teacher herself why she is frustrated and what she can do to be called on more often and not get behavior notes sent home. The teacher will work with you, I'm sure, if she sees you and your DD are concerned, and you're doing your part, and you have the same goal to improve the current situation.

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answers from Washington DC on

Sounds like my daughter last year.

It honestly got to a point where we had to put my daughter in another class. She wasn't herself, she was struggling to do the simplest projects, and was just overall a different kid. We worked with the teacher from August to February, and then we moved her. She was SO much happier. It's one thing to learn to deal with a teacher you don't like, it's another to completely shut down because of it.

Can you shadow her for a day or two? See what's really going on?

Can you go talk to the teacher at school with your daughter there? Maybe bring in the counselor too, they can help in situations like this.

Good luck!

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answers from Norfolk on

We all come across people we don't like and sometimes they are an authority over us (teachers, bosses, supervisors, etc).
Sometimes smart kids come around to thinking the world revolves around them on the early side (foreshadowing of teenager hood).
They don't see why disrupting a class hurts the whole class.
All they see is that they want to show contempt for the teacher and challenge her authority.
The child is too big for her britches.
Child might be smart and know a lot - but if she can put her contempt aside - she can learn a lot from this teacher.
Talk to your daughter about what she finds so strict about the teacher and why she dislikes it and how she can get over it.
If she's not butting her head against the teacher - the teacher might call on her more often (since she'll be able to trust she won't get a disruptive argument by calling on her).
My son (gifted) had a thing about not liking to show his work on math problems.
He came to the correct answers quickly - it was SO SLOW to have to show your work - but how does the teacher know you've learned the basics if you don't prove you know them?
Slog through doing it the slow boring way (and this is tough because the class travels at the pace of the slowest student) and you'll be able to take short cuts later on.
Occasionally you really do come across a teacher/boss who really IS a total idiot.
But it NEVER accomplishes anything good by locking horns with them - you just end up wasting your energy.
Yes - even good kids talk back sometimes.
My son is no exception.
When he use to try it on me I asked him how many diplomas/degrees had he earned - how many jobs has he held - how many mortgages/car loans has he paid off.
Until he has accomplished even a few of those things - he's going to have to accept I know a few more things about the world than he does at the moment and when he HAS accomplished some THEN we can speak as equals on some subjects.
Realizing you don't know everything is a beginning of wisdom.

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answers from San Francisco on

I really didn't know what to say, but after reading part of Annette D's post, it occurred to me that you could have her write her note of apology and then write out the scenario but putting down a better way for her to have handled the situation. That way it is directly related and she will have to take some time to think about the situation and hopefully be prepared to handle it better the next time it arises.

I also agree with Annette D that you should not switch classes. All that teaches her is to run from a problem rather than to work on resolving it.

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answers from Hartford on

I think the teacher is doing really well handling the situation, actually. Your daughter can be a wonderful child but still need some reprimanding occasionally if she's having a personality clash with this teacher. It happens. Your daughter won't benefit at all from being switched to another teacher. What happens in middle school and high school when she has a different teacher for every class and she has personality clashes with one of them? She's going to have to deal with it.

The fact is that the school is also going to make you justify your request to change classes/teachers and this isn't enough to justify the change.

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answers from San Diego on

My question to you is why should you punish her? Why is punishment the answer? You have given us a history on your daughter and she hasn't had problems before until now. So something "is" different in either the way the teacher is setting up the class, the work, how she works with her, or isn't accomodating to your daughters needs. It seems that past teachers were able to work well with your daughter. Kids learn in different ways and have different needs in the classroom. Its the teachers that have to teach all of the kids (with different learning styles) or they shouldn't be in teaching. It's interesting that the teacher mentioned that your daughter is "strong willed" that your daughter is "resisting her". I wonder is she? Does the teacher think that its her job to rein in an intelligent girl and bend her to her will? You say your daughter is a good kid. I believe that too. I would find out more and help your daughter (and her teacher work through this together). Can you talk to past teachers perhaps you can find out what it was that they did differently than this teacher. Speak to other parents in confidence and find out what they think of the current teachers teaching method. Is she too strict or rigid in the classroom? Hope all goes well for you and your daughter.

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answers from Tampa on

I have a son that had problems with a social studies teacher in the 6th grade. She was very strict and picked on my son way too much. Everything he did was wrong. He wrote too small then he wrote to big. He colored a map and it was handed back because he didn't color the ocean all in one direction. She belittled everything he did. He was so frustrated and upset. I was the parent that kept telling him that he is going to have more teachers in the future that he isn't going to like and that he has to respect the teacher and deal with it for that school year. Because of this teacher his self esteem went way down because he thought everything he did was wrong. When he started the 7th grade he really didn't even want to go back to school anymore because she had brought him down so low. I went the first day and talked with the guidance counselor and explained the situation and found out that the teacher in question had a lot of complaints against her. I would say to you that if you do have a conference with the teacher, make sure that the principle, assistance principle or guidance counselor is also in attendance. If your child is being treated unfairly it really needs to be brought to the schools attention. I wished that I had done more than just tell my son that he needed to deal with the teacher as I had not realized what the constant cut downs were doing to him.

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answers from Dallas on

What about having your daughter work a little after school or during her recess time with the teacher ? Doing copies, sorting papers, etc. You would have to talk to the teacher and get her ok with this but it might give you daughter some time to get to know the teacher a little bit while doing the punishment at the same time.

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answers from Miami on

Can you talk to the other kids in the class? See what is really going on. Do a sneak attack during recess to watch what is going on in the playground. Find out who the class mom is. Ask the mom. After which if the only responses you are getting is negative feed back on your daughter. Ask your daugher if she would prefer to switch classrooms. It might be your daughter it might not fit well wit the group in that class.

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answers from Portland on

sounds like the teacher is managing this well. She is getting consequences at school which are teaching her how to behave. I'd leave this to the school. When the teacher wants help she'll ask you and have suggestions for what to do.

Anything you do at home is after the fact and totally unrelated to her behavior at school. Natural consequences are the most effective way to teach behavior.

As the teacher said, your daughter is a leader, which is a good thing. She just has to learn how to use that focus and that energy and the teacher is helping her do that. You don't want to punish her. You want to teach or direct her.

Focus on the positive aspects of her personality. Praise her for the good behaviors. Continue to talk with her in a calm and loving way about the negative behaviors. But do not punish her. She needs discipline which the teacher is providing.

As you've told her she will be having many teachers/supervisors etc. that she doesn't like. It's good for her to learn how to get along with them now while she's young and the consequences aren't so serious. Therefore I advise that you not get her into a different class.

You may want to move her but do some work in finding out more about understanding what is going on first. Follow Mom2KCK's suggestions. Perhaps spend some time in the classroom observing. Talk with the teacher as you're doing. Talk with the school counselor. If the teacher is reasonable but strict this may be a good place for your daughter to be.
so that she does learn how to deal with strictness.

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answers from New York on

i would absolutley not switch classes.. as you said yourself "she will have many teachers she doesnt like before she graduates".. are you going to switch her every time??...i would let her know that if she continues to get notes sent home about her behavior, she will get punished and that you were being nice by only taking away her tv this time. Tell her that was her warning & if it keeps happening she will actually get punishd. You said youve talked to her about all of this, im sure shes well aware that sh is supposed to be listening to her teacher and following directions but she isnt because she doesnt like this specific teacher.. so id say thats probably not enough and she does need something else to get her to listen in class.. does she know that when she gets older and behaves like this in class she will get detention?, maybe that will get through tto her.. maybe after school you give her your own "detention" if she gets another note sent home

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answers from San Francisco on

I would just take away something she likes for the day she gets the note home, tv, computer, play date, whatever it is. And tell her to raise her hand if she has something she needs to say in class.

Other than that, the teacher should be able to handle it.

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answers from Chicago on

At my kid's school, they have these behavior cards for kids that habitually disrupt the class or are disrespectful in general - they are kind of used as a last resort when other actions don't work. There are 3 categories: Be Respectful, Be Responsible, Be Fair. The kid's can get either a 2 (best score), 1 (if there are 2 warnings) and KT for Keep Trying if there are multiple warnings. And it's possible to get a 2 in Fair, a 1 in Respectful but a KT in Responsible (or other combo). At the end of the week, the score is totaled and the kids can pick a prize if they've met their goal (say, 2's 80% of the time). The kid's behavior is graded after each classroom period (includes lunch and recess). So, while a kid might get all 2s in Social Studies, they could have all KT's in math. Or 1s and KTs before lunch and all 2s after. The reason is so the teachers and parents can see patterns of behavior and make adjustments as necessary.

Maybe you could do something similar at home. Have the teacher etmail you tell her what you are going to do and ask her to send you an assessment at the end of the day. Reward her for her GOOD behavior, still punish the bad, but the focus should be on the behavior you would like to see.

Good Luck!

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