How to Help Kids With Problems at School

Filed under: Expert Advice: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Expert Advice: Big Kids, Expert Advice: Tweens, Expert Advice: Teens

School is tough. The problems that arise from being in school can be tougher. Credit: Getty Images

What do you do when your child is bullied, gets caught cheating or hangs out with bad influences? AOL Kids & Family Life Coach Elizabeth Pantley, author of "Perfect Parenting," shares the tools you need to feel confident in your roles as guidance counselor and homeroom leader. Here, she gives advice on how to handle common school-related issues.

He's complaining about his teacher: Patience, grasshopper. Give the relationship some time and explain that it's normal for people to have differences, and it's better to work things out than complain. Ask him if there are any specific problems. If so, come up with a plan and present it to the teacher in a mild and non-accusatory way.

She's too clingy: Some kids need a little extra time before they're ready to jump into the great wide world. Give her permission to take her time getting involved in new or nervous-making situations. And take your leave on a positive note. Rather than say, "Don't be afraid," tell her: "Have fun, honey! See you in a bit."

He's being bullied: At first, try to allow him to solve the problem himself. If ignoring it or the assertive, stick-up-for-yourself talk doesn't work, suggest he ask a buddy to hang with him or for help from a teacher. If he's continually or physically harassed, take charge. Approach the principal to control the situation immediately.

She brags about everything: Insecurity causes some kids to show off for the approval of others. Don't reprimand her in front of others -- that's embarrassing. Ask privately, "Think of what you could have said that's not bragging?" Explain how to phrase comments so they don't sound like crowing.

He's a sore loser: You're doing a child a big favor by teaching him how to handle loss. Validate his feelings about losing -- no one likes it -- but the key is to help him move past his feelings and look for what he did right and make plans for the next game.

She refuses breakfast: Breakfast is critically important. Try expanding her breakfast food choices -- leftover chicken, soup or even a pizza bagel make a fine breakfast. Some kids aren't hungry when they first awaken. Pack a muffin or fruit to go, and let her eat it on the ride to school.

He was caught cheating: Cheating one time may mean he felt unprepared or nervous; chronic cheating could point to unrealistically high expectations or even a learning disability. If he's embarrassed or remorseful about getting caught, lesson learned.

She rushes through her homework: At best, homework is an interruption of after-school fun. At worst, it's tiresome repetition. Review her work when she's done; show interest and ask questions. Also, limit extracurriculars. Children with too much to do rush just to fit their work in.

She's way too materialistic: Materialism is usually a direct result of TV and parents giving their kids too much. Are you guilty of this? Teach the value of money -- as in explaining what is and is not in your family budget -- and attach a dollar value to items. Also, help her appreciate the things in life that don't cost money.

He's misbehaving in the classroom: Ask the teacher for specifics rather than complaints. Suggest a parent-teacher-student conference so he's aware he's responsible for his own behavior. Avoid punishment. Rather, set up a plan for resolving the problem with weekly reviews.

I don't like her friends: Avoid making negative comments about her pals in front of her; it may push them closer together. Instead, make sure play dates are at your home so you can closely monitor them. Find ways for her to make new friends through a club, sports or other activities.

From "Perfect Parenting" by Elizabeth Pantley, Copyright © 1999 by Elizabeth Pantley. Excerpted with permission from McGraw Hill.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.