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Does your child have a bad reputation at school? The problem with bad reputations is that they are easy to get – and tricky to shake off. Happily, there are things they can do to start taking back control and making life a lot less lonely.

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How do you get a bad reputation?

Bad reputations are surprisingly easy to pick up: a bit of boisterous behaviour, misconstrued actions, showing of through nerves, trying to impress their peers, other children or teens telling tales, is all it can take. Of course, children often do not help themselves in some situations and they act out to show off or because they are anxious, or want to show off as a way to make friends. Sadly though, these behaviours and other low level nuisance behaviours like fidgeting, talking too much, talking loudly to friends, do not impress teachers. Not forgetting, some children genuinely can be very mean and unkind to others, or are purposefully disruptive in lessons. Then the teachers talk, or send emails about a child and suddenly everyone is looking at your child… and from that moment on, everything they do stands out. Even if others are doing the same thing, it is they who are seem to be the one breaking the rules.


Having a bad reputation

Different children react differently – there is no one size fits all. Some think it’s a licence to behave however they want; it’s expected they will be disruptive, so they will be. Others try to rise above it – but now other children know how easy it is for that child to get into trouble and so they so tend to wind them up and then tell tales. Either way, or anything in between, having a bad reputation is a very lonely place to be.

  • More challenging to make new friends.
  • Easily wound up and get into trouble more often than may even be fair.
  • Suffer more severe consequences than others doing the same thing.
  • Stop you from taking part in extra curricula activities, going on trips or being chosen to represent the school in competition, or not given a place on school teams.
  • Huge impact on self-esteem.
  • Feel overwhelmed and helpless so you give up and accept it, rather than trying to move out from under it.

What they can do

  1. First is to recognise that there is an issue. They need to know the impact their behaviour is having on others. E.g. being boisterous could be seen as physically threatening or intimidating.
  2. Secondly, and building on the above, they need to be aware of the fact that this attitude or behaviour negatively impacts on how they are seen by their peers – and teachers. If children have become highly visible, then teachers could be looking out for issues. (I say this as a former teacher – however what I will say is that great teachers will look beyong this and want to reach out and help the child concerned).
  3. Check they have got points 1 and 2.They are important because, children and teens with a “bad reputation” will feel perfectly justified having a negative attitude or behaving badly. This is because they are starting to, or have given up. Getting into trouble, no one believing them etc has become “normal” and there’s no way to fight the system and win. Peers, and teachers have stopped believing what they say and they always feel that no matter what they do, they are in the wrong. Once they identify that others may see their behaviour differently to them, or that behaving in this way actually only harms them further, they can start to move forward.
  4. Make amends – apologise where they can. The action of apologising is a powerful one, “You know, I’m sorry about what I said – it was not cool. I’d like it if we could be friends or hang out.” This is not an easy thing to do, yet is made easier when they are able to see another person’s point of view. It takes the hostility and some of the negativity away.
  5. Recognise that an apology may not be accepted, or may be followed by a big lecture. The important thing is they have owned and taken responsibility for their behaviour.
  6. Eye contact, even a smile to their peers in general or a “hi” as they walk past can really mae a positive difference after concerted efforts with this.
  7. Start with a subject or subject tutor they like. Face up to the issues in behaviour in the past, and then make a positive start with a “safe” teacher. Show up on tim, be prepared, work hard and get involved. If friends are “egging them on” to misbehave, then a simple, “You know what, I like art – I wanna have a good lesson here / come on let’s get on with it.” This is on confrontational, they are not saying no, they are giving a reason for their change in attitude and they are inviting their “friends” to get on board. It is the first step to taking control.
  8. Identify what behaviours they are doing that are POSITIVE. Once they know what these are, they can keep repeating them.
  9. Identify what behaviours they are doing that are not desirable. Once they know what these are, they can stop doing them and replace them with ones that are.
  10. Recognise it takes time and effort to make a difference.
  11. Recognise that for some kids or adults, this reputation may stick – that is the world we live in and others do like to accentuate the negative. What is important is how THEY feel and that they know they are making a positive difference for themselves.

Does this sound like your child, preteen or teen? It’s not something most families talk about with others, so please get in touch – there’s no need for you or your child to struggle with this.