What to Do if Your Child Doesn't Like Their Teacher
Sometime over the summer vacation, you can usually expect your child's school to send a letter or email letting you know which class they will be entering and who their new teacher will be. This information might be met with delight or perhaps surprise — but what if the announcement leaves your child upset?
I was a teacher for 13 years, and in that time, more than 400 students passed through my class. I formed wonderful relationships with the vast majority of them, who I recall with fond memories. But I have to be honest; there were a few out of those hundreds who I just didn’t click with. And I'm sure there were also more than a few who definitely wouldn’t choose me as their favorite teacher of all time. Sometimes, it just comes down to a mismatch of personalities. After all, we are all different and work better with different people.
Your child might not be looking forward to a year with their new teacher for a number of different reasons. Perhaps they've had previous negative interactions with this teacher already, or maybe they've just heard rumors about how much homework that person assigns or how strict they are. If your child is less than thrilled about their prospective teacher, here's how you can help.
Keep your opinion to yourself
You might also have a negative reaction to seeing a particular teacher's name, but whatever you do, don’t express this to your child. Children will take on the opinions of their parents quite easily. Try to remain positive about the teacher, and don’t let on that you’re not keen on the pick either.
Listen to your child’s concerns
Although it’s a good idea to remain impartial and not reveal your particular feelings about a new teacher, it’s also important not to dismiss your child's very real feelings. They may be scared or anxious about the changes a new teacher and class might bring, and they need to feel safe to discuss their feelings with you.
Schedule a meeting
GinaMarie Guarino, a licensed mental health counselor from the Greater New York City area, suggests that parents address the problem at the source and schedule a meeting at the school. “Often, children who don't like their teachers feel their teachers don't like them, so helping child, teacher and parent all be on the same page with expectations for behavior, education and classroom rules is helpful to ease your child's upset feelings toward his or her teacher,” she tells SheKnows.
Remind your child of their past achievements
Sometimes, your child may say they don't like a new teacher when really it's not personal at all. They may just be feeling general anxiety and nervousness about the unknown of a new school year and a new class. It can be helpful to remind your child of all the ways they have overcome problems in the past. Perhaps they found cursive writing tricky, but with practice, they gained a new skill — or maybe they didn't enjoy karate class at first, but with perseverance, they began to love the new activity.
Dr. Katie Davis, a New York state licensed clinical psychologist, says that it can be helpful for children faced with a non-favorite new teacher to practice expressing themselves to their parent first.
“The best strategy is to model for children how to have difficult conversations with their teachers in order to improve the relationship. It's more helpful to try to improve the situation rather than to remove the kid from it,” she tells SheKnows. Let them get their feelings off their chest and then model appropriate ways they can talk with their teacher themselves.
Give it time
Then again, not liking a new teacher could simply be a temporary problem that will resolve itself once your child settles in and gets used to their new class.
“Like any other type of relationship, this one also takes time and work to build trust. As time passes, your child will start to be more comfortable and 'like' their teacher. In addition, with time, the teacher also gets to know the child,” Ais Her, director of schools at Fountainhead Montessori School in Dublin, California, tells SheKnows.
Share just how special your child is
Teachers have a lot of faces to remember, and at the start of the term, it can help to share special information about your child and their interests with their new teacher. This can help your child to begin to build a relationship with their new educator. As Her explains, “Parents should make a point of sharing information about their child's interests, hobbies and personality with teachers. These insights provide teachers with a small but more complete picture of who the child is.”
Not liking a teacher is not the worst thing that can happen to your child. In fact, it can even be a positive, teachable moment. During the course of your child's life, they are bound to meet people that they simply do not care for. Learning how to work with people that they dislike helps kids develop all sorts of interpersonal skills — and teaches them to be resilient and adaptable. And who knows? By June, that teacher may well be their new favorite.