Q: My son is eight years old and he is in year four at school. Since returning to school in September he has not been doing his work in class and is constantly asking silly questions. He is in the top classes but is not bright enough for the work being set. He doesn't listen to his teachers in any lessons, he is disruptive and lazy. His teacher is new and is getting quite frustrated with him. I have punished him at home in every way I can. What can I do now?Claire, Surrey
A: Dear Claire,Could your son be seeking attention through his bad behaviour? Positive reinforcement - both at home and in school - can be a very effective way of turning around poor behaviour. There's an article about it on the School Gate site - click on Parenting for good behaviour. Positive reinforcement involves trying not to point out ANY bad things he does, and to highlight instead things (however trivial) which he's done well - easy to say, but hard for the adult to do. Age eight to nine is a good time to try this - certainly the younger the child is when you adopt this approach, the better. If it works (and it can be dramatically effective) it will simply become a way of life for you both. This is an approach often favoured by schools too. It may be worth chatting to the teacher - and to the head teacher - if you're going down the positive reinforcement route. Your son's lack of concentration in class suggests that he might be finding the work too easy or too difficult. It would be a good idea to meet with his teacher to get an idea of the work he will be doing in the next weeks. You could then sit with your son to prepare him for his next lessons, going over the new information and suggesting questions for him to ask.Good luck - we hope this helps.
Televisions should be banned from children's bedrooms by parents because programmes such as Big Brother and Little Britain encourage bad behaviour in schools, teachers' leaders claim.
By Graeme Paton, Education Editor Last Updated: 4:13PM BST 30 Mar 2009
Unsupervised access to TV is leading to a rise in pupils mimicking catchphrases, swearing, storming out of classrooms and answering back, they have warned.
Teachers said EastEnders, The Catherine Tate Show and Hollyoaks were also among the worst influences on young people.
Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, urged parents to control children's access to inappropriate programmes and stop them "living an isolated existence" in front of the TV.
She said a rise in the number of children with their own TVs was leading to the death conversation in the home and a decline in children's social skills.
Many young people are also "eating TV a dinner" in their rooms instead of sharing family meals, she added.
"Children are coming to school at four and five and they don't know how to have a conversation - their speaking skills are very, very poor," she said. "I do think that the programme makers have a responsibility to think about the effect of these programmes on children [but] I think the bigger responsibility is to the parents.
"More children and young people have TVs in their own bedrooms now, and it is difficult for parents to supervise what they're watching. Parents have a real responsibility here - if it's downstairs it is much more likely that a parent has some idea of what's being watched."
A survey of 800 staff by the ATL found that the vast majority believed TV programmes containing bad behaviour had a negative effect on the behaviour of pupils.
The union warned that access to inappropriate TV was turning children into "Vicky Pollards" - the Little Britain character known for her "Yeah-but, no-but" catchphrase.
Two thirds of those questioned said Big Brother was a bad influence on children's behaviour. Some 61 per cent named Little Britain and 43 per cent picked out EastEnders.
One primary school teacher from Kent told researchers that a pupil bright a knife into a lesson after watching a scene from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Others reported children mimicking guests on the ITV daytime show Jeremy Kyle, including pupils "screaming at each other" and storming out of classrooms. It follows comments from a judge who famously branded the programme "human bear-baiting" after a guest headbutted another man on the show.
Teachers also told of a rise in pupils mimicking the catchphrases "Whatev-ah" and "Am I bovvered" from The Catherine Tate Show.
They also said some music videos - including those from American rappers - gave boys "an unrealistic outlook on females as sexual objects".
In total, 88 per cent of school staff said TV led to general rudeness among children, such as answering back, mimicking and using retorts or catchphrases. Three quarters reported a rise in aggressive behaviour.