Steps to Take if Your Child Is Not Getting Along with the Teacher
1) Listen to your child and help them figure out their part. Most likely your child will tell you about their day and how their teacher reacted. This won’t be the most accurate account. Frequently, my students tell a tale of doing NOTHING wrong and getting in trouble. With a little bit of supportive listening, I find out that they were talking to their friend in the middle of the math lesson. This is not to blame the child but to empower them to see they do have some control over the situation. It helps them understand that they were not targeted randomly.
2) Discuss the issue with the teacher without blaming. The way to do this is to focus on the experience your child is having. For example, “Sean is feeling very insecure in class because of his academic and behavioural issues. Is there a way we can help him get back on track without the rest of the class knowing he’s being redirected? He feels ashamed when this happens” or “Beth has slow processing speed and feels anxious when put on the spot. Is there a different way you could ask her questions during the lesson?” Working with the teacher is always easier than working against them. After this begin keeping a record of your child’s experience.
3) Alert the Principal: If one and two are not yielding results: tell the principal that you’ve spoken with the teacher, that things are not changing, and that you would like to speak to him or her.
In the meeting, the principal will support the teacher. Be prepared, if you go alone (if you’re already a client in my company, please bring me), to feel very unsupported. Your goal in this meeting should be to brainstorm different ways that the teacher can interact with your child more positively. Keep records and make sure what you are asking for is consistent with any existent IEP. Also, the principal may behind closed doors discuss the issue with the teacher and ask them to be more supportive of your child.
4) Help Your Child Be Resilient. It can be very difficult to change a particular teacher or a culture at a school. Your child can use this experience as a positive. Work with your child to process their feelings.
· Listen without problem solving and help them come up with their own solutions.
· Praise them when they don’t lash out and when they choose instead to still follow the rules.
· Let them know they are supported by you and that you believe their experience (even if you have to help them see both sides of the situation).
· Teach your child that what they think of themselves matters most and that there will always be people that don’t believe in them.
If you believe this negative experience is impacted other areas of their life and that they are unable to fully process with you, I suggest working with a licensed social worker or psychotherapist. Children’s feelings are just as real and complex as ours. If adults require therapy, I believe that some children do too.