School can be challenging for lots of kids. Having a tough relationship can make it even harder. That extends beyond classmates to teachers. So what can you do to help if your child is struggling with a “bad” teacher? Parentology spoke with Melissa Mariani, Ph.D. and Associate Professor of Counselor Education at Florida Atlantic University, who shared some insight into steps parents can take.
Determine What’s Really Going On
Children are egocentric by nature, everything that happens to them is of the utmost importance. While it’s imperative you listen to your child, keep in mind you’re only getting one side of the story on the best of days. If your child comes home with reports of bad days or a teacher that “doesn’t like him,” investigate.
It’s important to ask questions around each situation, like “What happened before she yelled at you?” or “What did you say after she asked you to stop doing that?” Some kids are more sensitive to being re-directed. It’s also important to remember not all teachers’ communication styles are the same. A teacher your child perceives as “yelling” may be more animated or excited than your child is used to.
When To Take Action
If you are getting consistent reports that concern you and your child’s attitude towards school is changing, it may be time to take action. The first step is to request a conference with the teacher. Teacher’s schedules are usually jam-packed, so it’s important to schedule a specific time. Teachers are managing several things at drop-off and pick-up times and most likely can’t have a meaningful conversation. To ensure clear communication, ask for a meeting.
When you meet with your child’s teacher, try not to be accusatory. Let them know your child seems to be having a hard time and your hope is to determine why. Try stating the facts as they’ve been presented to you and ask the teacher if they could help you by providing their perspective on the situation. Most likely the teacher will be open to discussing your child’s issues and offering up possible solutions.
If problems persist for your child after your meeting and you’re not satisfied with the teacher’s response, take further steps. The best resource is your school’s counselor. “School counselors are trained in consultation and mediation,” Melissa Mariani, Ph.D and Associate Professor of Counselor Education at Florida Atlantic University tells Parentology. The counselor can act as a mediator between you and the teacher to find the best solution for your child. They can also help your child, giving them tools to deal with the situation since, “They are the social-emotional experts in the building,” according to Mariani. The counselor can work with the teacher, while being an advocate for your child.
The majority of teachers are truly invested in the success of their students and want to work cooperatively with parents. If you have an issue, speak directly to the teacher first and know that if you’re not able to come to a resolution, a school counselor is there to help.
What To Do If Your Child Is Having a Problem With Their Teacher? — Sources
Melissa Mariani, Ph.D.