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Help – my child hates his teacher!

Your child is with his teacher six hours a day for 10-months of year, so it’s important not to underestimate the impact of a child-teacher conflict.

In fact, a negative child-teacher relationship can stunt your child’s education and even impact on their future thirst for learning. But a child-teacher conflict can also be a great tool to teach your child about managing relationships and coming up with positive solutions.

Here are some tips on what to do when your child hates his teacher:

1)    Take it seriously
What may seem like a small thing to you can seem like an insurmountable obstacle to your child. It’s tempting to tell your child that everything will be better tomorrow and brush off the incident that is worrying them, but you run the risk of making them think that their feelings aren’t important to you. They may not confide in you the next time.

2)    Listen
Ask open-ended questions to figure out what is really going on. Maybe the teacher raised their voice to them – what happened before they yelled? Does the teacher yell at everyone, or just your child? It can take a while for your child to adjust to a new teacher’s ways of doing things, and they may not realise the part they played in the situation.

3)    Don’t act in anger
When something – or someone – is hurting your child, all of your parental intuition kicks in. It can be very difficult to control your own feelings when you believe that someone is being mean to your child. Just remember – as much as you love your child, at this stage you have only heard half of the story. Being defensive can make you shut off to hearing the other side and may actually make things worse for your child. Keep an open mind at this point because as a parent, it may not be easy to tell when your child is just venting or when there are legitimate issues that need addressing.

4)    Check the facts
Kids speak in hyperbole and also in code. To get beyond the confusion, parents need to get to the hard facts and probe the specific sources of the complaint. If your child says that his teacher gives him too much homework, check the workload yourself: How much does the teacher assign? Look at your child’s assignments and class notes and see exactly what he has to do each night.

If your child says that the teacher is too strict, check the rules yourself. Evaluate whether or not the rules sound severe to you and ask your child how the teacher enforces them.

5)    Talk to the teacher
Now that you’re calm and you’ve checked the facts, open a conversation with the teacher casually; perhaps when you collect your child from school. Generally, effective educators value constructive feedback from parents and welcome the chance to speak to you about your child.

It’s a good idea to speak one-on-one with the teacher about your concerns first, and to reach an understanding with them about the situation. Then bring in your child so that they feel confident that the situation is being resolved without fear of a backlash.

It could be as simple as a personality clash. Overly regimental teachers often clash with highly active kids who struggle to remain attentive, and children who are highly structured may find it challenging with a teacher who goes with the flow. Some kids need more encouragement and some need a greater challenge. Opening that conversation with the teacher, and involving your child in the conversation, may help to bridge the gap.

6)    Removing your child is a last resort
Watching your child go through a tough time can bring out your protective instincts and may even make you want to remove your child from the classroom. This should be an absolute last resort saved for cases when you fear that safety is an issue or that there is ongoing prejudice. Rescuing children from a difficult situation can teach them that if they don’t like the person in authority, they don’t have to stick it out.

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