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Tuesdays with Jane: Helping Teachers Assume the Best About Your Child

During the first few weeks of my daughter’s first–grade career, her teacher called me. “I think you should take your daughter to the doctor. She keeps complaining of stomach troubles and asking to go to the nurse’s office.” Chuckling inwardly, I said, “Thanks for your concern. Have you noticed, though, that she has a lot of energy? I think she’s looking for an excuse to get up and move. While of course you have to be fair to all the children, if you can think of errands for my daughter to run that would give her some long walks down those long hallways, I think she might stop asking to go to the nurse’s office.”

A few weeks later, the teacher called back. “You were right. Between picking up my books at the media center and more time out of her seat organizing classroom supplies, her need to see the nurse seems to have disappeared.” I breathed a sigh of relief because all too often these children that Kidtelligent describes as externally energized are seen as behavior problems or labeled with ADHD.

Flash forward fifteen years. One of my close friends now has a second grader. Over coffee one day, my friend mentioned that her delightful little girl had lost recess privileges because of some disruptive behavior. I said, “Oh, but running around at recess might be just the thing to help her manage her behavior,” and related my story of my daughter and the nurse’s office. My friend looked at me and said, “My daughter has been asking to go the nurse’s office a lot recently.”

We put together a plan for approaching the teacher, first and foremost by acknowledging that her daughter’s behavior hadn’t been acceptable, and then used this framework of external and internal sources of energy to “reframe” her daughter’s behavior. Together, she and the teacher were able to work out a different disciplinary measure that was more likely to solve the problem.

“Children behave if they can,” says Ross Greene, author of The Explosive Child. Teachers really do need to strive for consistency in their classrooms or chaos will break out. The language of Kidtelligent, though, can often help the teacher reframe your child’s behavior as normal rather than as disruptive, defiant, insensitive, or irresponsible. Try telling a story that illustrates what you’ve learned about your child. “I used to think that when my child did __________, he/she was being ______. But now that I know my child is really ______, I found success with an entirely different solution to this problem. Maybe something similar would work in the classroom.”

At the same time, try to think of a strategy to teach your child that will help him or her cope in a similar situation the next time. Sometimes, all they need to know is how long they need to sit still and they’re able to do it. Make sure they get plenty of movement after school––not just video games or other screen time––to restore that energy deficit the school created. It’s a balancing act, ensuring that your child’s needs are met while equipping them for the future.

By Jane Kise, Ed.D. – Educational Advisor and Consultant
Jane will be writing an insightful post every Tuesday for Kidtelligent. Jane is an educational consultant, specializing in teambuilding, coaching, and school staff development. She is also the coauthor of more than 20 books. Jane’s website  is