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When a Teacher and Child Don’t Get Along

Tips to Help Your Kids with Their Teachers Continued…

Do be fair.

If your child has some challenging behaviors, it’s important to be honest about them and to work on them at home. Ask your child to think about what he does that gets the teacher upset and what he can do instead.

If things still don’t seem to be getting better after a week or two, it’s time to meet with the teacher. Don’t involve administration without giving a more low-key and personal one-on-one discussion with the teacher a chance. Nancy and I have both found that keeping the problem at the level of parent and teacher is much more likely to foster a give-and-take relationship that lasts the whole year.

Do remember that most teachers really do want to be at their professional best.

The vast majority are committed to their jobs and really care about children. When their commitment is acknowledged and they feel respected by a parent, most will go to great lengths to work with you.

Do meet with the teacher with an open mind and heart.

The relationship with the child is a problem to be solved, not a fight to be won or lost. Express your concern and ask for the teacher’s point of view. You may learn a great deal about your child.

Don’t withhold any information that will help the teacher understand your child and be more effective with her.

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If your child is being affected by problems at home or had a negative experience with school last year, for example, he may be acting out at school. It’s important for a teacher to know something about your child’s past experience with school and his attitude toward learning.

Do try to leave the meeting with a clear understanding of what you and what the teacher will each do to try to improve the situation.

Arrange for a followup check-in.

Do thank the teacher for her time and attention.

Everyone likes to feel appreciated.

It’s a last resort to appeal to a higher authority but sometimes it’s necessary. Sometimes administration will offer extra supports or will have some good ideas for resolving the problem without changing the child’s classroom. In that case, give it an honest try.

But sometimes a student just gets under a teacher’s skin and, maybe to her embarrassment, she can’t get beyond it. Sometimes a child’s learning style is so out of sync with the teacher’s method of teaching that no amount of goodwill is going to make the year a successful one for the child. And, yes, teachers are people too and sometimes they have problems of their own that make it difficult to manage a particularly challenging child. In such cases, the wisest decision is to talk to the principal about moving the child out of the class.

If you must transfer your child to another class, take care how you present the decision to him. To help your child retain respect for school and for teachers, don’t make negative comments about the teacher. Instead, emphasize the positive. Let your child know how lucky he is to be in a school that works hard to make the right teacher-student match.

When a Teacher and Child Don’t Get Along

Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D.

Marie Hartwell-WalkerDr. Marie Hartwell-Walker is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. She writes regularly for Psych Central as well as Psych Central's Ask the Therapist feature. She is author of the insightful parenting e-book, Tending the Family Heart.

Check out her book, Unlocking the Secrets of Self-Esteem.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, M. (2018). When a Teacher and Child Don’t Get Along. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 13, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Oct 2018 (Originally: 17 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Oct 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.