Like all mothers, I remember clearly the day that each of my children told me they did not like their teacher. The sheer panic and helplessness I experienced as a parent, worrying that it was going to be a rough year ahead, was unnecessary when I followed a few effective parenting tips.
I realized that my children would take their cues from me, and if I made them feel that I was their advocate, and that I was invested in them, then they would work with me to make the situation better.
In some cases, your child may actually have a difficult teacher, so it’s important to follow a child-centered and active-listening technique to find out what’s really going on. That means to actively listen to your child, making eye contact while repeating back to her what she tells you. This assures you that your communication is clear.
In a sense, you are acting as a reporter, gathering information while teaching your child how to problem-solve. By following my empathic process, you will invest your child in solving her own problem, by finding out not only how she feels, but also what she thinks can be done about it.
Always advocate your child. Your child learns trust by experience. If she trusts you, she will trust herself. If she trusts herself, she will trust the world at large. By advocating your child, and finding out what she needs from you, you are teaching her that she can count on you… no matter what.
If, in fact, your child really does have a difficult teacher, someone who may be picking on her, then you can go to school and sit down with her teacher to assess the situation. Letting the teacher know that you are willing to work together to make things better for both she and your child brings the teacher into the sphere of your home team. If your child knows that she’s been seen and heard, she will feel validated, and therefore, valued. Then, she will become a part of the solution, as well as the consequences.
If need be, talk to the counselor and/or the principal to work towards a solution for the teacher and your child. Parents, children, and teachers are all part of a collaborative and can work together to make school an enjoyable, productive, and exciting experience. In some cases, the teacher is unaware of your child’s feelings, and therefore, is happy to put forth an extra effort to remedy the situation.
Another technique is to ask your child what she thinks she can do to help the situation. We often can’t repair past injuries, but we can agree to do better in the future. And children are very open to doing things that repair relationships, such as writing a happy note, drawing a happy picture, and so on.
Older children may be willing to sit down with one or both parents, teacher, and counselor to have a real heart-to-heart conversation. This teaches your child not only that she has power, but also how to use that power diplomatically.
If your child is in a difficult situation, going to school and talking with the child’s teacher, counselor, and/or principal is your absolute best chance for remediation. By bringing into the light your child’s experience, you have an opportunity to get help and to stop negative behavior.
As a parent, the most important thing you can do is to show your child that you are there for her. Then, by using all the tools at your disposal to intervene in a positive way, you will not only build a wonderful, secure relationship with your child, but also teach her that you will always be there for her.
Finally, if all else fails, it may be necessary to change your child’s teacher and/or classroom. Sometimes, changing the environment is all it takes to help your child have a successful school experience.