How to deal with your child’s difficult teacher

If there's a clash between your child and their teacher, don't go to the principal right away, parenting expert Gail Bell warns.
If there's a clash between your child and their teacher, don't go to the principal right away, parenting expert Gail Bell warns. Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

Kids not getting along with their teachers is a common issue in classrooms. Yet sometimes, there can be one teacher who just seems to be coming down on your child a little too hard for you (and your kid’s) liking.

Parents may feel the best thing to do is to confront the teacher, while others hang back and hope the situation sorts itself out. But are either of those the right and effective way to rectify the situation?

READ MORE: Got a bratty pre-teen? What parents can do to fix that behaviour

What can and what should parents do?

“This is very common but there are two sides to every coin,” parenting expert and former teacher Gail Bel of Parenting Power says. “Most teachers are really good people who really deeply care about learning and about the children they teach. But every once in a while, there’s a teacher who can rub a kid the wrong way. There’s different personality types going on here.”

Story continues below advertisement

There are many reasons why these clashes start in the first place, Bell says. It could be something as simple as a misunderstanding between the teacher and student. It may be as extreme as a teacher not enjoying the profession they’re in anymore.

That’s why it’s important parents do not jump to conclusions right away when a child approaches with the problem.

“Stay very calm and investigate,” Bell says. “If your child comes home says they hate their teacher and that their teacher is mean – that’s a child’s perspective, and only one perspective. Don’t ignore the child but empathize.”

And before sending any emails to school administrators, wait 24 hours and assess the situation before planning your next move.

If this is a continual thing, Bell says to collect information by speaking to your child and getting details. So if a child says the teacher is mean, ask the child what he or she means by that exactly.

“But also keep your questions quite casual and keep your emotions out of it,” Bell advises. “You want to let your child know that you’ll work with them, and you’ll work with the teacher.”

The next thing you’ll want to do is go to the teacher, Bell says.

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: 7 popular – yet tricky – parenting questions answered

“Lots of parents go straight to the principal but you want to go to the teacher [the source], just like in any other situation when there’s potential conflict or misunderstanding,” Bell points out. “You don’t want to blindside the teacher because right now all you have is one side – your child’s perception.”

Just note, however, that communicating over email or text isn’t a good idea in conflict resolution situations, Bell warns, because they can be read the wrong way. So it’s best if you schedule a face-to-face meeting with the teacher.

In that meeting, remember to use non-blaming language. Instead, use the “I” word. For example: “I was wondering if you can help me understand the situation. I’m hearing ‘this,’ perhaps I need to hear your view of it.”

“We’d all like to think our children are all little angels but they’re not always perfect,” Bell says. “So maybe your child’s doing something annoying in class you’re not prepared to hear about or they haven’t handed in assignments after being support by the teacher.”

But if, after talking to the teacher, you see the issue cannot be solved, then it’s time to bring in a school administrator to work with you, Bell says.

To avoid situations like these from developing in the future, Bell also suggests that the lines of communication between teacher and parents be opened up early on in the year. By being involved in your child’s school life and teachers and taking a proactive approach, parents will have a better understanding of what’s going on and be able to solve issues more easily.

Story continues below advertisement
Global News Redesign Global News Redesign
A fresh new look for Global News is here, tell us what you think
Take a Survey

Sponsored Stories