January 22, 2016
As parents, we hope our children’s school years will go smoothly, but we know they’ll probably hit a few bumps along the way, such as teacher troubles. This situation isn’t uncommon when you consider a child will spend 180 days with this person during the school year. To maintain a healthy, positive student-child relationship, it's best to resolve this kind of issue without delay.
You can’t make your child like his or her teacher. Do you like your boss, your co-workers or all your neighbours? Probably not; keep in mind that it’s normal not to like everyone.
You may be tempted to dash off to the school and meet this teacher; perhaps request that your little angel switch homerooms... DON’T DO IT. This reaction will send your child the wrong message. Playing the blame game or trying to make the problem disappear isn’t the key to resolving a conflict.
What’s more, by being overly protective, you’ll only hinder your child’s ability to adapt. It may become appealing to your child to avoid or flee from situations requiring collaboration or teamwork with people he or she dislikes. In the long run, this could become to a pretext to drop classes in college, or even lead to frequent job changes, repeated breakups and so forth.
Investigate the issue
Ask your child questions. What it is that the teacher says or does that your child dislikes so much. It could be anything: “He’s mean and strict,” “He gives too much homework,” or “He smells like cigarettes.” Furthermore, when a claim isn’t clear, try to get a more detailed explanation to understand what the teacher did to be mean. After all, making your child do his or her school work may seem strict to a 5-year-old.
Nonetheless, listen and be supportive, but avoid openly taking sides by say something like “I understand and you’re right, that much work is ridiculous!” or vise versa “I think you’re exaggerating, Ms. Jones isn’t like that.”
Did you ever have teacher troubles? Now would be the time to talk about it. Tell your child how you reacted and explain how you resolved the conflict.
Not liking a teacher is no excuse to be impolite or disruptive in class. Therefore, be firm: your child cannot disrespect his teacher or undermine his authority.
If things start to go downhill
Most of the time, kids will ride it out and learn to cope with a teacher they don’t like. However, it sometimes happens that the situation will get worse and measures have to be taken. Warning signs include:
- depression or anxiety;
- pleas to stay home from school;
- a drop in your child’s grades.
Your child’s relationship to his or her teacher may not be the only cause, but it’s better to address the issue with him (or the principal), who will work with you to come to a solution.
What if the teacher really is at fault?
Personality clashes are sometimes unavoidable; your child and his or her teacher won’t get along because they are fundamentally incompatible. However, there are some lines teachers shouldn’t cross, these include:
- Playing favourites: Ah, yes, the teacher’s pet; pretty much every class has one. Teachers are only human, so they probably favour some students over others, but showing it openly is just bad classroom management and should be avoided.
- Repeatedly singling out a student for criticism: Comments like: “Keep it up; you’ll never amount to anything anyways,” are unacceptable.
- Always being impatient or annoyed: We all have bad days when our patience is at a minimum. Hey, it happens and it’s natural, provided bad days don’t become all days.
If, after analyzing the situation objectively, you believe the teacher’s behaviour is unprovoked or inappropriate. Then it’s time for a chat between adults. Be the perfect diplomat: stay polite and explain your point of view calmly. The situation could be a big misunderstanding; perhaps the teacher isn’t so bad after all.
On the other hand, your child could also be right. If the teacher cooperates, you’ll certainly find common ground. However, if he refuses to listen or to collaborate, then it’s time to tattletale and turn to the school principal. Once again, keep your cool (even if, we agree, this is a difficult task). Flying off the handle will only look bad and damage your credibility. Be clear and give concrete examples.
On that note, best of luck!
Article by School Success, a Canadian company dedicated to academic success for elementary, high school and college students. School Success provides academic support services, including personalized homework help, remedial classes, summer classes and test preparation,
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