WHEN YOUR CHILD HAS A “PROBLEM TEACHER”
What do you do if your child complains that a teacher:
While your first impulse may be to give that teacher a piece of your mind, remember there are two sides to every story. Most child-teacher conflicts are due to resolvable issues.
Your child’s complaints may simply be due to a bad day that will be forgotten next morning. Listen, interject empathetic comments (“That must have been frustrating”), but don’t add fuel to the fire by agreeing that the teacher is a jerk. On the other hand, don’t put your child on the defensive by taking the teacher’s side. After initial anger subsides, you can provide gentle guidance in the form of “What might you do next time?” questions.
If complaints about a teacher become frequent:
Pinpoint the Key Problem
Persistent grumbling may simply be a bad habit: note that if you complain about your boss, your children will assume that knocking authority figures behind their backs is normal. Try initiating daily conversations on “What did you like about school/work today?” and see if that reduces complaints.
If you suspect the problem is more serious, first get the facts as objectively as possible, then decide whether you need to personally talk with the teacher. If the latter:
Listen, Don’t Lecture
However unfair you think the teacher has been, going in swinging will make things worse. Explain your family’s concerns objectively in “I” and “we” statements (no accusations!), then ask the teacher for her side of the story. And then hear her out; do not argue or correct until it’s your turn to speak again.
If you show empathy for the teacher, offer helpful suggestions rather than demands, and perhaps schedule a follow-up meeting to evaluate progress, things will improve ninety percent of the time. However, if you find yourself dealing with a stubborn individual, and the classroom situation only seems to get worse:
Consider Further Options
If the teacher refuses to consider anyone else’s side, you (and your child) have three options:
Remember that such cases are the extreme exception, so don’t panic the first time your child complains about a “tough teacher.” Concentrate on approaching the situation objectively and reasonably, not only to resolve the immediate problem, but to teach your child how to settle conflicts—that life lesson will prove valuable long after this year’s class is a distant memory!