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Behavior Problem vs. Skill Deficit

Parent on phone

Is it a behavior problem or a skill deficit?

You receive a phone call from your child’s teacher. The teacher is frustrated because your son sat in class but didn’t take notes. The teacher believes he is being defiant and refusing to follow directions.  

Maybe, but let’s think deeper. What could be impacting your child academically are skill deficits!

A skill deficit implies that an individual lacks the necessary abilities or strategies to navigate specific situations appropriately. Unlike behavior problems, skill deficits may respond positively to targeted teaching, training, or interventions designed to enhance or teach missing skills.

Let’s take a minute to break down the steps for note-taking. A student must be able to:

  • Get the necessary supplies
  • Listen to the teacher 
  • Tune out all other distractions in the room
  • Prioritize important information
  • Read what is written
  • Hold information in his/her working memory long enough to write it down
  • Spell correctly and write legibly or type
  • Organize notes on paper or document
  • Stay focused for the entire class
  • Decide if the information is clear or unclear
  • Ask questions to clarify
  • Keep up with the pace of notes being disseminated

This process can be overwhelming! Note-taking is just one example. Whenever your child is having “behavior problems” at school, it is important to break down the task your child is being asked to complete. Does he/she have the ability to complete each part of the process? If not, focus on developing the necessary skills to be successful.

These skills are not character traits, and they can be taught! At New Agenda, we are here to help! Click here to get started today!

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