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Questions to Ask to When Your Kid Doesn't Like Their Teacher

We are still in the first month of school and already I have heard, “I hate school,” followed by, “I really don’t like that teacher.”

These comments make me want to roll my eyes, let out a huge sigh, and scream into a pillow all at the same time.

I want to be compassionate, and even side with my child, when they don’t like a teacher. Because hey--some teachers show favorites. Some treat students differently. Some are legitimately not fair.

However, I’ve learned through my years of parenting that every teacher is not as “evil” or “unfair” as my kids would like to believe.

So, as a mom, how do I know when to step in and deal with a teacher my kids keep claiming is “not fair”?

Here are some questions I have found that help me out:

Is it the Teacher or Your Kid? Questions to Ask to When Your Kid Doesn't Like Their Teacher

Question: What’s Really Going On?

I try to find out the reasoning behind why my child feels this badly about a teacher. Is it because the teacher gives too much homework or a project is a lot of work? Could it be because a deadline was missed and my child was called out on it? In these cases it becomes pretty obvious that the teacher isn’t the problem.

Question: Does My Child Have A Part to Play?

This is hard for me to swallow but sometimes my precious ones can exacerbate situations. These times call for a reality check. For instance, when a teacher asks something of them, are they being disrespectful? Is an accusation a teacher is making actually true? (For example, they actually DO forget to pass in homework every day.) Sometimes taking a realistic inventory helps me clue in on ways my child could try a different approach in the classroom (as opposed to expecting the teacher to change).

Question: What Part Does Learning Style and Personality Play?

One thing I get to see when my children have multiple teachers is a mix of teaching styles and personalities. The same teachers my son loves because they are relational drove my eldest crazy because he felt like they rambled in class. “I love to hear the stories,” one will say, while the other declares, “I wish he would actually teach us something.” My kids’ personalities and learning styles are trying to mesh with their teachers’ and sometimes I have to help them navigate how to learn and grow under those teachers’ care.

Question: What’s the Life Lesson Here?

Sometimes the best question I ask is, “What can we learn from this?” There will be bosses our kids don’t get along with, and other places where authority may seem unfair. I like to help my kids learn some of these life lessons in the process of dealing with teachers they don't like.

For example, last year my daughter had a teacher she felt she couldn’t make happy. She talked to him about what was wrong about her assignments and he never gave a clear answer. The truth was that it was the first time she encountered a teacher who didn’t give A’s easily. Her life lesson was to decide if she was OK with a B, or to accept that she’d have to work harder and smarter for the A.

What about those times when it is the teacher?

Unfortunately there are times when a teacher doesn’t like our kids so much. This can make our kids feel small, like they can’t do anything right. In these cases, never be afraid to ask the teacher’s side of the story. There may be more to it than what our kids are telling us. Sometimes it doesn’t have anything to do with our child at all. Often a direct conversation can clear up a lot of the bad vibes.

If you do encounter an extreme teacher, you might need to go over their head. Hopefully you'll never have to go that route, but that's an option when nothing else seems to work.

Personally I have found that nine times out of ten the dynamic between my kid's teachers and them is something we have to learn how to navigate at home with our kids. Sometimes it takes a hug, some love, sharing in our child’s struggles, and teaching them this too shall pass.

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  • Beth

    ALWAYS talk to the teacher first and if necessary request a conference. Going above their head should be a last resort! Also, we all have to learn to deal with difficult situations. This is a good chance to teach kids resiliency!

  • Rosa

    This article is very helpful. I too am beginning to hear those complaints from my pre-kinder kid. Thank you for the suggestions!

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