Spotting Behavioral Issues in School

There are two broad categories of behavior problems in school. One includes the mischief that most students are capable of (occasionally skipping class, copying someone else’s homework, teasing a classmate); and the kinds of things we all did (or thought about doing) while growing up. We refer to these as garden-variety misbehavior. Generally harmless, students do them consciously but without really meaning to hurt anyone.

But there is a second category of behavior problems that are more serious and more persistent. Far from being harmless, these behaviors are not only more disruptive but sometimes they are downright dangerous.

Fortunately, only a small number of students (about 20%) display these kinds of behaviors. Of this number, about 15% pose a significant challenge to teachers and administrators. The remaining 5% suffer from serious mental health conditions and their behavior poses a real threat to the orderly operation of their schools and to the health and safety of teachers as well as other students.

It is now well-documented that many students in this group suffer from abuse and neglect, they witness domestic violence, they have been diagnosed with mental illness, and they sometimes live in dangerous areas with high crime rates. In addition to the challenges students with behavior problems pose, it is important to remember that these same students also experience a range of emotional disorders. According to Boston Children’s Hospital, these emotional symptoms can include:

  • Easily getting annoyed by others.
  • Often appears angry.
  • Puts the blame on others.
  • Refuses to follow rules; questions/challenges authority.
  • Throws temper tantrums.
  • Has difficulty handling frustration.

Disruptive behavioral disorders are complicated and may include many different factors working in combination. For example, students who are oppositional or who can’t regulate their emotions may also have ADHD, anxiety, depression, or just a very dysfunctional home life.

Professional and clinical therapists can help recognize emotional and behavioral disorders. These disorders can have multiple causes and symptoms. They should offer a wide range of diagnostic procedures and tools that include:

  • Diagnosis by a specialist, which may include a pediatrician, psychologist, or child psychiatrist
  • In-depth interviews with the parents, children, and teachers
  • Behavior checklists and standardized questionnaires.
  • Quantitative Electroencephalograph (qEEG) brain maps and analysis
  • Standardized assessment instruments (IQ, achievement, cognitive processing)
  • Analysis of environmental stressors (e.g., domestic violence, divorce, parenting style)

A diagnostic process that includes multi-instrument, multi-informant procedures helps to ensure a more comprehensive analysis of a child’s emotional and behavioral difficulties. These assessment procedures, in conjunction with an evaluation of the child’s family dynamics and environmental stressors, provide a more precise analysis of possible causes as well as a clearer and more comprehensive view of the child’s overall functional status.


What kind of behavior causes problems at school?

Any behavior that disrupts the educational process or interferes with other students’ ability to learn or feel safe can be problematic in a school setting. Examples of disruptive behavior include skipping classes, defiance towards the teacher or other adults in authority, bullying, cheating, and disrespecting classmates.

What are the most common behavior problems in the classroom?

Common behavioral problems in the classroom include talking out of turn, not following directions, being disruptive during lessons, not paying attention or completing assignments, and acting out aggressively.

How do you identify students with behavior problems?

Signs of possible behavior issues may manifest through unusual changes in academic performance, social interactions, or emotional regulation. Teachers may also observe signs such as reduced respect for authority, irritability, and difficulty managing emotions, and accepting constructive criticism.

What is a behavior disorder in school?

A behavioral disorder in school is any pattern of behavior that substantially interferes with educational performance and disrupts other students’ learning environments and experiences. These disorders often manifest as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), or anxiety disorders.

What are the 5 behavioral disorders?

The five main types of diagnoses related to behavioral disorders are Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), Conduct Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and Anxiety Disorders.

What are the 3 types of behavioral triggers?

Behavioral triggers can be broadly categorized as environmental triggers (external cues that can bring about a response), physiological triggers (internal changes within the body that can alter behavior), and psychological triggers (emotional states that can affect behavior).

What are 5 types of behavioral assessments?

Five types of behavioral assessments commonly used by teachers and mental health professionals include direct observation, interviews with students and families, standardized assessments, anecdotal records, and functional behavior assessments.

What are the signs of Behavioral problems?

Warning signs of potential behavioral problems can include difficulties getting along with peers, impulsive or aggressive behaviors, avoidance of certain activities, dramatic changes in diet/sleep patterns, withdrawal from previously enjoyed activities, mood swings, and persistent patterns of destructive behaviors.

How do I get my child assessed for behavior problems?

If you notice signs of possible behavioral issues in your child, it is important to consult with qualified mental health professionals who can provide appropriate diagnosis and treatment. Your child’s primary care physician or school counselor can help refer you to a specialist who can assess and address any potential issues.

What is the behavior checklist test?

The Behavior Checklist Test is an assessment instrument developed by psychologists to identify areas of emotional and behavioral functioning in children aged 6-18. It focuses on areas such as depression, anxiety, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), conduct disorder, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and more.

What is the most commonly diagnosed behavioral problem in childhood?

In the United States, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is the most commonly diagnosed behavioral problem in childhood. Symptoms associated with ADHD include difficulty paying attention or focusing on tasks, difficulty controlling impulsive behaviors, and hyperactivity.

At what age do behavior problems start?

Behavioral problems can begin at any age but typically become more noticeable around the toddler years when children are developing their language skills and learning how to interact with the world around them. Certain challenges may persist into adolescence and adulthood if not properly addressed.