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Child and Teacher Problems

What to Do When Your Child Doesn't Like Their Teacher

Your child's teachers do not necessarily need to be their best friends, but your son or daughter should never feel uncomfortable or fearful when walking into their classroom each day. If they are coming home upset or unhappy because of something going on with their teacher, then it's important to listen to what your child is saying and seek answers. Often, it's more a simple case of "missing Mommy syndrome," but other times the problem can be something deeper that needs to be addressed. Work with your little one and their teacher to find a solution that helps everyone involved, and try these tips when sorting out the situation.

Do some detective work.

Find out why your child is having problems with his or her teacher, and try to discern if there are underlying issues that don't actually have to do directly with the teacher. It's possible that they are simply feeling adverse to anyone who isn't you, your partner, or someone familiar. If you are convinced that the issue is indeed with the teacher themselves, then ask your child specific questions about what exactly they don't like. Is she "mean" because she asks your child to follow rules, or is she "mean" because she speaks angrily to your child often?

Listen and be open-minded.

Be open to hearing your child's side of the story, and try not to make assumptions based on what they are telling you and what you think it really means. You know your child better than anyone, so make sure to put yourself in their shoes in order to see the situation from their eyes. This will help make sense of where they are coming from and why they are really unhappy.

The root of the problem may be the teacher's fault. It may be your child's fault. It might be no one's fault. Regardless of what you discover, be open to all sides, and avoid being quick to place blame on any one person or thing.

Be honest and positive.

A lot of times, teachers are more strict at the beginning of the year when the ink on the rule board is still fresh. In order to establish authority and garner respect, they may appear less friendly than they may actually be — especially from a younger child's perspective. Remind your son or daughter of this, and encourage them to look for qualities they like about their teacher. Place emphasis on the things that seem fun and interesting, and help your child get excited about the teacher! It takes two people to make a teacher-student relationship work, so it's important to help your child recognize their own role in making that relationship be the best it can be.

Keep track of your child's complaints.

Keep a running list of incidents that your son or daughter brings up that bother them. Let your child know that you are doing this, so that they know you're taking their concerns seriously. If it seems like the same issue is recurring, it's likely that it's a real concern that may need to be addressed. It will also be helpful to have for reference if the issue is brought to school staff members.

Talk to the teacher.

A parent-teacher conference may be necessary in order to get to the bottom of things. Teachers spend a large portion of the day with your children, so they know them pretty well too, meaning they are likely going to be able to offer insight into the situation. When approaching the teacher, make sure to set up a time to speak rather than catching them by surprise, and avoid sounding accusatory or angry. The teacher might be sensitive to the subject, and if they feel criticized rather than questioned, then the entire conversation might be counterproductive.

Ideally, you both can have a friendly and productive conversation that sheds light on the situation and try to come up with a plan together on how best to deal with the issue moving forward. If the teacher is not receptive to working on the problem, then it might be time to speak with another staff member at the school.

Reassure your child.

Without taking sides, make sure that your son or daughter knows that you are seeking answers and help, and let them know that you respect their views. Don't criticize or bad-mouth the teacher in front of your child, even if it turns out that they are the real problem.

Speak to the teacher's superior.

If the teacher is not receptive to your feedback and suggestions, and the problem seems to continue, then going to the teacher's superior might be your next order of business — especially if you think your child is being singled out and suffering because of this. Bring the list of complaints your child has been making, as well as some record of the conversation you had with their teacher. Work with this staff member to resolve the issue, whether that means speaking with the teacher again or potentially switching teachers. Hopefully, if both sides approach the situation reasonably and respectfully, a resolution can be found.

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