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How to Handle Behavior Problems in Kids With ADHD

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WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Renee A. Alli, MD

You may not be in the classroom when your child acts up or tunes out, but you can still help.

A good relationship with your child's teacher, along with planning and practice at home, can turn around behavior problems at school. Your kid will be a lot happier, and so will you and the teacher.

Team Up With Your Child's Teacher

If your child misbehaves at school, his teacher is your best ally, says Stephen Brock, PhD. He's the school psychology program coordinator at California State University, Sacramento. While school psychologists and other experts can help, the teacher has the most contact with your child. Do everything you can to make that relationship work.

Keep your cool if the teacher calls to talk about your kid’s behavior. You don’t have to feel embarrassed, upset, or defensive -- it isn’t about you, says Richard Lougy, LMFT. He's a school psychologist in Sacramento and co-author of The School Counselor's Guide to ADHD. This is part of the teacher’s job. She wants to help your kid.

Be respectful. Remember, your child's teacher has a lot of other duties, Brock says. Stress that you're there to help, not make her life harder with lots of demands. Keep the focus on how to help your child. Don’t discuss what you think the teacher is doing wrong.

Ask what you can do. Find out what the problem is. Ask how you can support the school's rules. Think about changes you can make at home that will match those rules. Set a more formal routine, or start a reward system for good behavior.

Stay in touch with your child's teacher, whether it's by email, phone, or in person. Ask for a daily or weekly report on your child’s progress. Get to know his schedule and due dates so you can help him with assignments, quizzes, and projects.

Find out about resources. Most public schools have support teams for kids with ADHD, Brock says. The team might include school psychologists, guidance counselors, or other experts. Ask the teacher if you can all meet together.

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