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How to handle poor behaviour at school

My eldest stepson has just started secondary school and within his first week he had already been given 2 detentions and the school had rang his mum and dad about his poor behaviour. Since then, we are getting emails multiple times a week about his behaviour and he is averaging 2-3 detentions a week. They are for a range of things: fighting, not doing homework, talking back to teachers, not doing as he is told etc. 

In addition he has started to show a poor attitude at home: not doing as he is told, being disrespectful, being very messy - which we initially put down to the pre teen hormones kicking in. 

We, along with his mum and stepdad, are at a total loss at how to handle this behaviour. Any punishment he’s been given just seems to go straight over his head and he just doesn’t seem to care what we do or say. We’ve talked to him to try and see if there’s anything worrying him and that’s not flagged anything, when he does settle down and work he produces excellent stuff and there are no concerns he is struggling with his work.

The school are insistent that they think it’s because he has ADHD so we are getting that looked into, however his youngest sibling was diagnosed with ADHD a few years ago so we know what to look out for and we honestly do not believe that is what is causing the issue. 

As a family we’ve had a lot going on this year, a family bereavement, everything with COVID etc but I also fell pregnant very unexpectedly and I’m worried that this might be the reason for his behaviour. We’ve talked to him about the baby and offered lots of reassurance to him but this will be his 4th sibling between us and his mum/stepdad so we thought he would be used to the process.

Our biggest fear is that if his behaviour continues, he will end up being excluded from school. We are in regular meetings with them to try and sort his behaviour out but we don’t seem to be getting anywhere. Can anyone offer any advice? 


  • Has he been diagnosed with ADHD? 
  • No he hasn’t, we are in the process of getting him tested through the doctors but the school have done some basic tests with him. These have come back saying that he does not have it.
  • Hello Bella, First of all I thank you on behalf of you son for taking concern on his behaviour changes and attitude. I am trained teacher in handling infants, toddlers as well as kids with slow syndrome and hyper active. 
    First and foremost to look is "how we (you) spend time with him" it is not the hours we are together, even your 5minutes will make huge difference. He has to know that you are there available for him anytime. Talk to him in general no specific about his studies or behaviour or what others say., be natural in your conversation. Tell him often that "Mum and you" are friends forever.
    Second - share your day's experience with him either sad or tensed or funny whatever. Like the tiny blunder you did in cooking, while driving, in work or with your friends and ask him about his day. 
    Third: Do not tell go and play or study. Ask him "what shall WE do now" and do as per his wish. Also stop before he wants to stop. 
    Please follow the above three and let me know. I will surely assist you further. 
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