9 Ways To Support Your Kid When They're Labeled The 'Naughty One'

Lessons from the parents who've been there.

Mother snuggling her daughter vadimguzhva, Anastasia Shuraeva | Canva

"My son will not sit in circle time," one mother told me.

"The principal is constantly calling about my son’s behavior on the bus. What can I do? I am not even there," another mother bemoaned.

"The teacher keeps calling me to complain about my daughter’s slow pace. When my daughter doesn't get her class work done, the teacher keeps her in during recess to finish her work, and my daughter has an understandably emotional reaction every time," another parent admitted.


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Familiar stories

Millions of parents across the U.S. receive phone calls from schools, teachers, coaches, and other parents regularly about their children’s behavior. These types of well-intentioned calls can be very draining.


Parents often hear too much about things their children do wrong. Sometimes, a child's behavior is aggrandized and made to look like a larger problem than it needs to be. Society is very critical of kids today. Adults often expect kids to act as adults, or they expect kids to change their behavior overnight.

The negativity is probably starting to get to you. These criticisms may be making you feel stressed, frustrated, or even ashamed of your child.

Even though deep down, you understand change and growth take time, you wish you could do something now so you don't have to watch your child struggle with the pain of judgement.

Remember, other parents throughout the country are going through the same ordeal of parenting. Every child develops at his or her own pace.


At a BBQ this summer, a mother said what kept her calm was to remember "everyone is working on something". She went on to explain how the straight-A student in her son’s class was working on not fighting with her brother on road trips. Her son’s teacher was working on reducing her credit card debt. Her son’s coach was working on eating healthier and losing weight.

By re-framing the criticism in this way, you can put your child’s issues into perspective. Yes, your child may be lacking some skills, either socially or academically, but you can work on developing those skills — just like everyone else.

Everyone is working on something.

When the phone calls start rolling in and you are feeling overwhelmed, you can use these tips to help you keep calm.


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Nine empowering ways to support your child when they get in trouble

1. Do not talk to your kid about it the minute they walk in the door.

The conversation is not going to go well if you talk to them when you are still angry and frustrated. Instead, wait a few hours and broach the conversation when you are in a positive frame of mind.

2. Allow your child some room to explain what happened.

You could say, "I heard you had a rough day. What happened?" Your child’s perspective may help you understand the situation more fully.

3. Get your child excited about and involved in the problem-solving process.

Change comes easier when your child sees the value in changing.


4. Look for small wins and improvements.

Real change takes years. Remember to acknowledge and celebrate your child’s small successes.

5. Find a network of support.

Find other parents who are going through similar travails and talk to them about your frustrations.

RELATED: How To Help A Kid Who Is Being Ostracized

6. Communicate with teachers, administrators, coaches, and other parents.

Communication should be more about problem-solving and less about blaming. If you feel like the phone calls are all about blaming, try to turn the tables and involve the caller in the problem-solving process.

7. When talking to teachers or administrators over the phone, ask for insight into why this problem happened.

Because you can’t be at school to regulate your child’s behavior, teachers need to step in and encourage change at school as well.


To get teachers to partner with you, you can ask them open-ended questions, such as, "What skills do you think my child needs to develop?", "What are you going to do at school to help my child develop those skills?", and "What can I do at home to help my child develop those skills?"

8. If you receive daily phone calls from one adult, ask for a summary of your child’s behavior at the end of the week.

You can have a boundary so you don’t have to face the constant negativity.

9. If the same problem keeps popping up, arrange a meeting with your child’s school team.

This includes the principal, the teacher, and the school counselor. Come up with a long-term skill-building plan together while keeping in mind your kid is not going to change by next week.


Above all, when you receive a disheartening phone call, remind yourself of the big-picture perspective. You are not the only parent receiving these phone calls.

You are not the only parent working with your child on big issues like behavior, social skills development, or academic performance. Everyone is working on something.

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Caroline Maguire, ACCG, PCC, M.Ed. is a personal coach who works with children with ADHD and the families who support them.