My child behaves at home but not at school

My child behaves at home but not at school. I met with a Somali father of four, we shall call him Ben. He was angry at school and with his son, we shall call his son Michael, because, as he sees it, it is up to both the school and his son to get on and at the time we met they were not getting on. Michael was punished frequently and Ben was called in to school regularly to deal with it.

He said that school must do whatever it can to make his son learn and he said that his son must simply knuckle down and get on with it. I have known this man for a while, he is a kindly and committed father.

We spoke about his older, disabled, son who everyone in the house takes a pride in looking after. He told me that Michael shares a bedroom with his disabled brother and takes pride in looking after him, taking him to the shops and generally helping him stay safe. “How can my son be so different in school?” Ben wondered.

Ben and I saw that his son was compliant and helpful at home. I told him that school sees Michael as being tired and sometimes we wonder if Michael has a low mood.

Ben and I wondered if Michael comes to school and uses this time to play or to let off steam as well as learning. We saw that Michael definitely needs to be able to let off steam because at home he serves the family a good deal.

Understanding this enabled Ben and I to see that Michael must find the school very tough because, as he would see it, the teachers try to stop him from doing what he feels he needs to in order to remain balanced, which is letting off steam and playing. And because Michael has a fair amount of steam to let off he probably feels he needs to play a fair amount!

Of course, when school invite Michael’s parent’s in to discuss his deteriorating behaviour it simply makes Michael feel angry and vengeful towards school, and most particularly those teachers he knows find him difficult to manage.

He sees the school as intentionally bringing more stress to his family’s life. As any good family member would, Michael, defends his family by playing up for those teachers he sees as attacking his family’s happiness.

If you have found this blog useful and someone you love is struggling in school, maybe you might consider counselling.

Why not get in contact with me and we can talk about counselling and the other therapeutic options you have available to you as a parent.