Today, many children are being suspended from school or placed in a self-contained classroom due to behavior issues. Behavior issues can occur for many different reasons. Children may try to use inappropriate behavior to get attention in the classroom, or there may be un met academic needs that are not being address. If parents and teachers provide the desired attention and/or avoid punishing the bad behavior, the inappropriate behavior will be reinforced and will likely continue.

If you are getting phone calls or notes from your child’s school you may want to request that your child receive a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA). An FBA is a tool that behavior coaches and child psychologists use to determine what occurred before the behavior (antecedent), the behavior, and then the consequence. This information will give the school psychologist ideas about what is causing the inappropriate behavior. Once the FBA has been completed, the school will develop a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP). A BIP will include several goals and strategies to reinforce positive behavior. I think it is very important for the school district to share these strategies with parents so that the behaviors can also be reinforced in the home.

One of the suggestions I have for parents is to get a behavior coach that will work with you in the home. A behavior coach can provide support and teach parents positive reinforcement techniques that will help with their child’s temperament.

Many parents ask if the school has a right to deny a parent’s request to change their child’s classroom due to a personality conflict with the current teacher. The truth of the matter is that school districts do not have the ability to move students around, due to the size of classrooms. Parents should partner with their child’s school to successfully resolve conflicts. Most of the time, moving a child to a different classroom will not resolve behavior issues. In most situations, to move a child to a new classroom the parent and school would need to determine that a change in placement is required in order to meet the needs of a child’s IEP or 504 plan.

As a parent, you have the right to have your child placed in an environment that will encourage success. If you find that your child is having difficulties in a certain subject, or is continuing to experience behavior problems, then you should discuss your child’s placement with school administrators.

Parents need to work collaboratively with the schools to provide children with free access to public education.

• Teresa Welsh is a behavior coach with her own company, Kids Reaching New Heights. Reach her at (602) 531-0230 or

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