When a Teacher and Child Don’t Get Along
“I hate that school! I hate that teacher!”
Nick has come home from school in a fierce temper. He drops his backpack on the kitchen floor and kicks it across the room. “She’s not fair! She’s always picking on me!”
School has only been open for two weeks and some kids are already in conflict with their teachers. If your child, like Nick, is one of them, how you handle the situation can make it much, much better or much, much worse.
The kids take their cues from us. His mom’s reaction to Nick’s dramatic entrance is crucial. If she immediately gets angry on his behalf, there is every chance she will only fuel his anger. This will make it more difficult for him to take a step back and figure out how to get along. If, instead, his mom sympathizes but then engages him in some good problem-solving, she may be able to help him set a better tone for his year.
Nancy, Nick’s mom, is smart and experienced. Nick is the youngest of four and not the first of her kids to get off on the wrong foot with a teacher. She’s learned over the years what can be helpful and what often just isn’t. “As much as I love my kids,” says Nancy,” I know their first impression of a new teacher or classroom or school isn’t always right. I think the most important thing I’ve been able to teach them is that it really does take two to tango (or tangle) most of the time.”
As we talked, Nancy and I came up with the following list of dos and don’ts for other parents whose kids have had a hard first couple of weeks.
Tips to Help Your Kids with Their Teachers
Don’t immediately leap to support your child’s negative view of the teacher.
As sensitive and observant as children can be, they often aren’t good interpreters of other people’s behavior. If a child complains that his teacher doesn’t like him, he may be misinterpreting something the teacher does or says. At least allow for that possibility. Ask your child for details without agreeing or disagreeing. Your job at this point is to just see the situation as your child sees it. Once the child calms down, you can introduce another point of view.