Do you know how to react if your child dislikes the teacher? It’s a difficult time when you realize your child has been upset at school. And it can be tough to find out what really happened. Children have limited vocabularies and often make generic statements like “the teacher wasn’t nice.” To find out more, act like a reporter, advocate for your child, and take a diplomatic approach with the teacher.

Understand your child’s interpretation of events.

Some parents feel that allowing children to complete the year with a stressful teacher can help a child learn to deal with challenges. It can help your child learn to be resilient and solve problems on their own. Such comments are often accompanied by the obvious caveat that parents should always get involved if their child is at risk of emotional damage. The overall key of course, is to know what is going on in your child’s life and to understand their interpretation of the experience.

Get to Know the Teacher

Introduce yourself to the teacher. It’s great to do this early in the year, but don’t hesitate if the school year is already underway. Engage in friendly conversation at morning drop off or afternoon pick up. Find moments to spend time in the same environment your child is in all day, such as volunteering at class parties. If your schedule conflicts with school hours, request a conference and be honest that you would like 15 minutes of the teacher’s time simply to get to know her better. Once your child is in elementary school, he spends more waking hours during the week with his teacher than with you. Having a better understanding of his teacher’s personality can enhance the discussions you have with your child.

Get to know your child's teacherPhoto Credit: Emmaws4s/Pixabay

Actions to Take

Suggested actions if your child dislikes a teacher or is having trouble in class:

  • Attend school and classroom open houses
  • Get to know the teacher, their school year goals as well as their style of teaching (independent of rumors heard from other parents)
  • Read handouts from the teacher and discuss the class activities with your child
  • Try to remain positive when scheduling a parent teacher meeting with the goal of solving any issues rather than finding blame for the incident
  • Make a list of questions or topics in advance of a parent-teacher conference to ensure you are prepared to calmly discuss any important matters
  • Discuss with your child the detailed events that led up to challenging moments at school
  • Ask open-ended questions rather than questions that elicit only a yes or no response
  • Openly discuss the plan with your child and show them how they can take proactive and take positive steps toward solving disagreements, misunderstandings and challenging moments

Actions to Avoid

  • Try not to believe everything you hear about a teacher
  • Don’t ask or rely on your child to relay a message to the teacher
  • Avoid using negative language about the teacher
  • Do not publish criticism about a teacher on social media or other websites
  • Never threaten a teacher or other staff member of the school
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Recommended Reading

Eileen Kennedy-Moore

  • Summary. This guide explains the importance of developing a quiet ego – being in the world without self-judgment and embrace a compassionate view of oneself and others. Kids who are less focused on evaluating themselves are freer to empathize with others and embrace learning. Connection, competence, and choice are essential for self-esteem.

  • Reviews. Parents and teachers react with positive reviews. The book emphasizes the importance of giving kids life experiences that build self esteem, determination and humility. The information is presented in a comprehensive yet concise manner with helpful summary points at the end of each section. Highly recommended by parents, for parents.

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Smiling Poodle Publishing

  • Summary. A coloring book full of positive images and phrases. Affirmations encourage children to think about being honest, kind and a hard worker. Appropriate for kids aged 3+.

  • Reviews. This is a fun, simple way to introduce kid’s to positive thinking and self-confidence. Moreover, the activities are great conversation starters for parents and their children.

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Additional Information

How to React When Your Child is Having Issues With The Teacher

ML Notes: a quick summary of the article.

  • When kids have a tough time relating to their teacher, parents need to decide whether to get directly involved or to support their kids by encouraging them to handle the situation on their own. There are benefits and risks to either approach.

  • These situations call for patience and enhanced parent-child communication. Figuring out the root of the problem is critical, which requires patience to interpret the limited vocabulary your child uses to describe events. Remember to take a viewpoint of the situation from his perspective and recognize whether your child has self-confidence to learn and thrive from the experience or if he needs additional support.

When You Think Your Child’s Teacher Is a Bad Fit

ML Notes: a quick summary of the article.

  • Determine whether the cause of the problem at school is the teacher or if it’s due to the child’s behavior.

  • It’s important to understand the meaning behind what your child is saying. Remember kids have limited vocabulary so get as much factual detail as possible. Help your child understand that you are her advocate. When it’s necessary to speak with the teacher, describe what your child told you and give the teacher an opportunity to tell the story from her perspective.

  • A related article by the same source offers general tips for how to talk to your child’s teacher, including suggested responses to common discussion points. Read more: The Smart Way to Talk to Teachers

5 Smart Ways to Handle Teacher Troubles

Raising Children Who Are Resilient Can Help Them Manage Conflict

ML Notes: a quick summary of the article.

  • Resilient kids have an easier time navigating daily obstacles and life challenges. Help your kids develop creative problem solving skills and they will tackle unfamiliar situations by finding solutions rather than becoming overwhelmed with anxiety.

How to Raise Resilient Kids

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