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My Child is Fine at home
but having problems with authority at school


                Client's Letter........                              ........Our Reply

Dear Mr Dyer,

I am the mother of twin boys, aged 12. Both at home are now very warm, loving and quite well behaved (I probably shouldn't say no problem) and both myself and their father have a great home life with them.

However, at school the situation is not the same. They do not concentrate, do not listen and apparently are very disruptive.. Last year they both passed for grammar school and so I thought their old behaviour would not follow them but, lo and behold it did. Obviously, educationally (at their new school) a lot is expected of them.

At the beginning of their first year at the new school all the teachers thought they were great if, a little boisterous but in the short while they have been at the school, their grades have dropped and towards the end of term one of them (my best behaved at home) ended up on report for poor and disruptive behaviour.

In October (in the holiday) they attended a football club (first time) and were both awarded out of 60 kids (and the instructor didn't know their background) a trophy for the best attitude/behaved child (they are in fact at this club this week). They also attend a golf club where again their behaviour is not a problem.

However, they have just attended (last week) a playscheme which they have attended since they were 5 and one of them got into trouble for calling another child a bad name, they didn't say it to the child but to the teacher. The teacher then had a word with me telling me how naughty they both were.

With all this conflict it is very difficult to decide what is going on as at home things are fine but not at school or apparently at playscheme, yet, they love school and are possibly the most popular children.

I need a strategy for the start of their new term (I'm going to award them 25p each for attitude/concentration and 25p each for behaviour which they will have to sign for every day and which will be returned should I find out from school that they have not behaved).

Have you any suggestions where you think things can be improved with as little disruption to their school life as possible. Any books I can read...a few years ago (possibly when they were 7)I read a book which did a 1, 2 3 counting programme and this really turned their behaviour round at home but obviously didn't have any affect at school.

Please help.

Matha Baker (Mrs)

Home Visits
U.K.   Ireland   and   E.U

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Dear Mrs. Baker,

You ask for suggestions but the suggestion that I am going to make I am not sure you are going to like.   I think you need to seriously question if you really get compliance at home and, if you do, the way in which you get it.   I think you will find that you get a semi-peaceful life because you bend to the desires of your children in ways that the school and the play scheme cannot replicate.

I have been working with behaviour for 25 years much of that time in schools and working intensely with parents for the last 8 years and in all that time I have never come across a case where children behaved reasonably (and were handled reasonably) at home but then behaved badly at school.   Not once in all that time.  Although in the beginning many parents are convinced, like you, that they have no problem at home, they have often become used to behaviour and responses inside the home that result in lack of concentration and lack of compliance and challenge to outside authority.   One week of successful behaviour at clubs on holiday are not enough to convince me that they have been taught by you and their father to accept the disappointment of not getting their own way.

If I am right you will probably discover your established way of handling the wishes and demands of your children will soon also create turmoil at home when your children move into their teens.   My guess is that you have not really taught your children to accept consequences for inappropriate behaviour. Have a look at the behaviours that I typically change for distraught parents   click here. These are the behaviours that can be expected when children have not learnt to understand and accept consequences.

Sorry to be so blunt.   But it is very likely that your perception of all being well at home is a dangerous illusion.   So, to help you further, I need to know how you handle it when you want  A and your children want  B?

In other words, I would need to know precisely how you get your own way when it is clearly necessary for educational (homework) health or safety or social-skills reasons but when your children want another outcome.   It would not make sense to start to fix behaviour at school first if their behaviour at home and your response to it is the real problem.

I have worked successfully with every family who first came to me with a problem that they felt was exclusive to school (and there were many) without ever involving myself with what happens at school.   The lessons their children need to succeed in school have to be first established at home.

Warwick Dyer
Behaviour Change Consultancy


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