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Getting Help for a Child with a Behavior Disorder

by Wrightslaw

My son is in the 10th grade. He has a behavior disorder and he can’t control himself at times. The school does not understand when he gets agitated and angry. They just suspend him and deprive him of his education.

You say your son has a behavior disorder. Many kids with learning disabilities develop behavior problems. If the school doesn’t teach them the skills they need, they become angry, frustrated, and depressed. Then the school labels them as “behavior disordered” or “emotionally disturbed.”

  • Is he under the care of a mental health professional?

If not, he needs this right away.

By suspending him repeatedly, the school is putting him at high risk for dropping out.

  • Does he have an IEP?

If yes, what services is the school supposed to provide? Are they providing these services?

  • If he doesn’t have an IEP, you should get an evaluation by an independent evaluator.

The evaluator will determine what his needs are and what type of educational program he needs. The evaluator can help advocate for him with the school. A mental health person can also help you learn how to advocate for him.

At this point, you have educators who have little or no training in mental health and behavioral problems dealing with him, mainly by suspending him (which isn’t a punishment for many kids).

  • Is he under the care of a child psychiatrist?

If not, that’s your first step. You also need to get a comprehensive evaluation to find out what is going on with him, why he can’t control himself, and how to help him get himself under control. The child psychiatrist should be able to recommend a good child or neuro-psychologist.

Bottom line: You can’t tackle these problems successfully unless or until you have good diagnostic testing and data.

You’ll find more information and resources on Behavior Problems and Discipline at

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106 Comments on "Getting Help for a Child with a Behavior Disorder"

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11/19/2015 5:50 pm

My daughter is 8 years and she is on meds and sees a psychiatrist. But lately here home behavior is worse and worse. It is just her and I in the home. Its either hot or cold with her, there is no inbetween. She is either hitting me with all heer might or loving me like there is never anything wrong. The hitting is getting worse and worse everyday, she is not a small eight year old, she is starting to leave bruises on me. Do any of you have any suggestions to help me out what to do next?… Read more »

11/03/2015 11:17 pm

My son is eleven years old and he has seen a psychiatrist for behavior problems. They seem to find nothing to diagnose him with. The school said my son threatened a teacher and later the PRP worker told the principal that he threatened to kill everyone in the school. He had a hospital evaluation and they saw nothing. I do not know who to believe because my son says he didn’t say that, but the teacher and PRP worker said he did. I am lost in helping my son. Can anyone relate?

05/24/2015 10:26 pm

My daughter is in the end grade and she keeps getting suspended for 10days at a time and she’s not learning anything .I have had her evaluated for the IEP and they said she doesn’t qualify for one but yet she’s not learning and is constantly getting suspended. I have requested a IEE and I am going through this process now .In the meantime she is up for expulsion at 8yrs old.I don’t know what to do no child should be expelled at that age or grade .what am I to do she goes to counseling in school and out… Read more »

05/10/2015 10:39 am

What if the behavior is a result of neglect within the school system as we are dealing with? The school wants to blame our daughter and pin a behavioral plan on her and ignore the fact they have violated her educational rights ( which we have already proven with an investigation into the program). What do we do?

04/12/2015 7:20 pm

I have a three year old son who is delayed, autistic, and no one can help me because of the simple face he is very young. I know he has them problem. He dont sleep, he is destructive, disrespectful, and i have tried everything i possibly know how to do to help him. I need help or advice to help me help him

04/08/2015 9:47 pm

my daughter is very disrespectful at home all the time but out in public it is a total different story

03/09/2015 8:42 am

i have a 16 year old who is in 9th grade. he is so jealous of his dad at being happy. he destroyed his dads last marriage. he cant stop telling lies. he talks to hisself and answers hisself. he will steal things and goes against our house rules. last night he had been taking a bath and he was saying i got rid of his other and i will get rid of her to. he has threaten to throw his dad in prison because he doesnt want to do what he is suppose to do. please help me cause… Read more »

03/07/2015 2:45 pm

My son is 16 years old and is in the 10th grade. I am concern with everything going on with him because he has got to the point where is doesn’t care about his grades and there is always an excuse as to why he is not passing. Out of 8 classes he is only passing 2 of them. I had to give him a drug test because he was and I believe he still is using marijuana. I feel like I am at my wits end and I really don’t know what to do anymore. Some times he will… Read more »

03/06/2015 12:57 pm

Debra, You posted a few months ago about Scott’s Valley Boarding school in Oregon. I am very interested in more what you have to say about this school.

02/23/2015 2:35 pm

I have an 11 year old grandson that is ADHD and is on meds. He has 2 brothers and one sister. His behavior at school and outings with his friends and family are great! He is a total different boy at home. He can destroy the whole harmony of the family. He will not follow through the simplest task. How a very angry temper. His brothers and sisters hate him! He is a beautiful talented boy! His parents never do enough for him in his eyes! The spoiled one would be him. His parents are very concerned over the fact… Read more »

02/22/2015 8:48 pm

My granddaughter is a high functioning autistic child. This blog gave me hope that the Sped folks will consider putting her on an IEP. I am a retired school teacher and have seen how the game is sometimes played with special needs kids.

02/19/2015 10:09 pm

We’ve got a 14 year old daughter who has ASD and has become uncontrollable at home. She’s under the care of a psychiatrist, but needs more than medications. A crisis center will not take her in for an evaluation unless she harms herself or others, and she’s come pretty close to this. Does someone need to be hurt to get the help they need. We are seniors and our daughter is 5.4-1/2, defiant, strong, oppositional, combative, you name, she’s it. What can we do?

02/11/2015 11:52 pm

My son is 16 and he just got kicked out of school in Georgia. He was in IEP. They did nothing to help me. I am going crazy because i am a single mama with 3 boys. And i work 2 jobs. I need some help so bad.

02/11/2015 3:31 pm

My daughter is an iep student at collage. I am also disable myself. Need help in how to help her out. She is angry because the disable program doesn’t help her out.

02/04/2015 11:08 am

If a child who is a senior got in trouble off school grounds, the school found out, suspended him for 45 days, then expelled him. Said they will home school him so he can graduate, get his diploma. But he can not walk with his class. His dad lives in another school district. The school said we can not transfer him. Can we put him in a private school?

02/01/2015 10:06 am

It doesn’t seem there is enough help out there for a parent/parents with children with disability factors such as ADHD, behav. disorders, etc… My son went through the system, special schools, ritalin, all of it; he is now a grown man and has grown up problems in relation to his disability. It is wearing me down; killing me. He gets in trouble with the law; hangs with the wrong people; amongst other things. I am at my ropes end on what to do. No one cares enough to help me nor him. They just… Read more »

09/27/2015 11:07 pm

Maybe try Vocational Rehab. I tried this for my son who has had similar issues as your son. He has a traumatic brain injury, adhd, behavior problems, etc. They do look at criminal history, as well as other factors including job history. They will do drug testing too. Unfortunately my son didn’t take the drug test in time so you have to start the whole process again. It seems like a helpful program – help getting a job or sometimes they even help with school or training for those with a disability if the county has the funds avail.… Read more »

08/30/2015 6:12 pm

Hello! I am having the same problem with my 28 yr old Son, he is very angry and mean at times, and other times is is a angel. I got mad at my nephews Nurse today and broke her mirrors off her truck and called her horrible names. He needs to be checked, He has a attitude all the time. And he has warrants for his arrest for Assault, theft and now for this. Someone please help me!!!!!!!!

01/31/2015 6:13 pm

Tonya, I would question if the school has any social groups for him. Some schools have lunch buddies with typical kids who are compassionate to role model behaviors. My daughter was one of those “typical” kids and I was against it as no one asked my permission and the behavior of the other student greatly concerned me, but it all worked out. You mentioned something about the father and weekend visits. Is there anyway that you and his father can collaborate with a counselor to promote better outcomes for your son? Your son will… Read more »

01/30/2015 4:47 pm

I have 5 years old son who was diagnosed with autism spectrum. He is in one on one kindergarten classroom. He just learned how to talk, he is very good student but his behavior has been big issue. He is beating teachers and everyone in family. He does not listen and it has been very hard to go out with him. Is there any special school for behavior in Boston Massachusetts or do you have any other suggestions for us?

01/30/2015 3:51 pm

My son will be 8 in March. He gets very angry at school. I thought it was the school at first. This has been going on and off since he started preschool at 4. He gets Angry easily if he isn’t getting attention or if his teacher is telling him to listen. He gets disruptive in class and he yells at his teacher. When I ask him why he is acting this way at school he says other kids are making him mad. I asked him why he takes it out on the teacher if the kids are the ones… Read more »

01/29/2015 6:58 pm

My son is 5 and is in prek and been having behavior issues since he was 3 and going to a Head Start program. Has been diagnosed with ADHD ODD and Mood Disorders and Behavior issues. He’s on medicine and the school is no help at all. Just need some advice on what to do. Are there any schools in Georgia for behavior issues?

01/21/2015 11:52 am

My son is 13 going on 14. He has an IEP. I took him out of school and started him in the k12 program. Now he is doing good on the program getting good grades. I don’t know how he was failing in school. My problem is that the kid don’t listen, he disregards anything I say to him is like talking to the walls. he dose not listen to nothing I say to him. He is ADHD, he is on meds has a counselor, see’s a psychiatrist & still its always madness in my house. there’s never a smooth… Read more »

01/20/2015 11:36 pm

I can’t get any help where I stay.please help me with my child. What should I do?

01/06/2015 7:05 pm

I have a 5yr old daughter who is completely out of control. she doesn’t listen, she’s extremely mouthy and still pees herself during the day and at night. she hits me and my 4yr old son and pushed my son down the stairs. i’m to my wits end. ive tried counseling. they wont let me enroll her in school due to the fact of her behavior. they claim she’s to young for any type of meds. please someone help with some type of advice bc i dont know how much longer i can do this.

12/30/2014 7:35 pm

My friend adopted 2 boys about 8 years ago but she had them for all together 10 years they were 3 & 4 years old they have always had behavior problems but she kept them in counseling on going about 3 to 5 days a week. Monday 1 session, friday another session, saturday another session, with 3 different counselors 1 psychiatric being seen 1 a month for the medication, they have been on every adhd medication from stratera, abilified, ritalin, the patch, vyvanse, adderall tenex, deporcote, trazadon, melatonin, round the clock. we also had men from a church helping taking… Read more »

12/15/2014 7:17 pm

I need help with my 10 year old. I do not know what is going on with her but I am hitting so many walls can someone help me so I know what my next step is I have had her in treatment centers and counseling for 3 years and not getting anywhere.

12/13/2014 1:27 am

My son who is 19 does have bipolar disorder and has bad behavior. I had him tested and his IQ is only 58 and like I have stated he is in counseling but that isn’t really working as I hoped. He doesn’t understand half what his counselor tells him. He has very limited understanding.
What can I do for him? Is there other help that I can give him? I tried to find parenting classes so I can learn to deal with my son,and unfortunately my county that I live in doesn’t offer help like that for parents. What can I… Read more »

12/09/2014 11:04 am

My son is 11 and will not go to school. we have called the police to school. please help i dont want dss getting involved again.

11/22/2014 5:37 pm

It is so sad that a child is expected to act perfectly as they are strapped behind a desk behind school doors. Schools should be more focused on life skills and how to cope with and solve actual life situations instead of fractions. If we all cared more about each other we could build relationships and character traits to help us overcome anything life throws at us. Anger is a god-given emotion and there is a reason behind every outburst. The hard part is figuring out the hidden reason

11/18/2014 4:14 pm

My 6 yr old is out of control. I’m getting calls from the school that she kicks kids and even spits and pokes the kids, even teachers. She destroyed the principal’s office. She continues getting suspended. I don’t have access to get her seen at the Dr.

11/11/2014 11:41 pm

Rashetta let me tell you you’ve just described my son. After an awful year he’s at a place in Oregon that has done well for 3 kids that I know. One parent is placing another child as I write. Its called Scotts Valley boarding school. I am a parent I don’t have any thing to do with the school. You can find some good schools this is the most cost effective. They can finish high school here :) Very happy.

11/07/2014 2:25 pm

Please is there anyone out there who can help me my son is Adhd and here recently he been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He gets in to trouble all of time at school because of his anger. Been in ale program since eighth grade. He’s been suspended so many times because they don’t know what else to do so he’s failing school. I don’t want that for my son because he has learning disabilities. He has an IEP so suspending him is not helping him. Been in counseling for about four years. I’m so stressed out about his behavior. He… Read more »

10/24/2014 10:49 pm

A little under 2 years ago when my son was 14 he witnessed his father kill himself, inflicted with a gunshot. When he was younger he was diagnosed with autism. Since this has happened he has become very violent with myself and his 2 sisters. He spent 3 months in juvenile, please give me guidanc. I don’t want to lose him.

09/29/2014 5:22 pm

My grandson has been kicked out of public school and now in a behavior school. They have kicked him out of this school unless we put him on alderoll and abiafy (did not know how to spell these drugs). He is home vomiting and is sick. We at home, have no problems with him. Yes he can’t sit still sometimes and he will hit other children if they hit him or if he thinks they are trying to hurt him. By the schools kicking him out, he is behind in his schooling. Don’t understand a… Read more »

09/22/2014 3:24 pm

My 16 year old son has bad anger problem but only towards his father and I. He was baker acted once 6 mths ago and now again. I would like to know if anyone knows of a place that we can send him for 30+ days. He refuses to do anything when we tell him. He needs help, he threatens to hurt himself. I am beside myself and I don’t want him to think that we are abandoning him. I live in florida and need help. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

09/15/2014 8:09 pm

I have a godson. His mom doesn’t want him. What should I do?

09/13/2014 12:48 am

I have a 5 yr old son. He just started kindergarten and everyday he gets in trouble for hitting and not keeping his hands to himself..sometimes he will try and leave class if he gets mad..I need help any advice will do please.

09/09/2014 10:47 am

I have an 11 year old son who has been labeled with the emotional disturbance. I have been trying to get him help and haven’t really been sure where to go. I had a meeting with the school and they convinced me to put him in containment classes.I just had a meeting with the teachers and the assistant principal yesterday about my son being in containment classes. His case manager said to me that after they did their benchmark testing in language arts the teachers felt that he did not belong in containment classes and said that he needed to… Read more »

08/22/2014 12:55 pm

If i get a behavioral evaluation from my child’s teacher and have the doctor look at it, test my son for adhd or add, does the teacher have authority to force me to give my son medication if the doctor recommended it? Also, Can the teacher move into another class just because i requested the behavioral evaluation form to be filled? I just really am concerned about these questions because somebody i know told me these things could happen!

07/09/2014 7:23 pm

My 9 year old grandson has adhd and very bad anger problems. Are there any places that can take him and watch him to get his medication right? He’s been on different kinds but I think he needs help that his case worker and I can’t figure out. I need help

06/30/2014 1:11 am

My son is in jail for a rape that a girl said he done 7 years ago. is now 27. He would have been 19 at the time of the rape. He was tested three times last year with a IQ of 53,62 and 64. He was in special Ed in school for 13 years’ Is there anything out there to help him.

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