MOM: The first thing you have to figure out is exactly what happened. Sometimes an incident like this may show up as a change in your child’s behavior even if he hasn’t told you what caused it. You really have to talk to him directly about it. For example, you could say something like: “You know, you really seem different after school these days. Was there anything at school that you want to tell me about?” Or, “Did anything happen between you and your teacher?” Or, “Did something happen to upset you?” Without that kind of information, it’s very hard to do an intervention.
If a child tells you that Mrs. Smith made fun of me at school because "I couldn’t read the paragraph well," and now he doesn’t want to do any school work, you will have to address the problem both with the child and the teacher. If I were that parent, I would request a conference with that teacher to talk about how Johnny is upset about what happened. Find out if she remembers what happened. If she’s amendable and says, “Oh, I’m so sorry, I didn’t realize what I had done,” then she can help tremendously by taking the child aside and talking about what happened and apologizing. An apology from a grown-up goes a huge distance for a child.
MOLLY: What if the teacher isn’t amendable or open to the conversation?
MOM: If the teacher is like, well, tough, I’m not going to do anything about this, then there’s nothing more you can do with the teacher about this. Then what you have to do is be talking more directly with your child. What you say is, “Honey, I talked to your teacher and she’s probably not going to talk to you about it, but I think she feels badly about what happened. And the fact is that you’re a very good reader and let’s see if we can help you be an even better reader. Why don’t you and I read together in the evenings before you go to bed? You’ll read a paragraph and then I’ll read a paragraph –we can alternate– so that your reading will get better and you’ll feel more comfortable in school.” You can help the child with mastering whatever it was that caused the mocking by the teacher.
MOLLY: Do you have to tell your kid that you talked to the teacher? Should you tell them?
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