Resolving Conflicts With Teachers

conflict resolution

It’s an all-too-common scenario. Junior comes home from school exclaiming, “I HATE my teacher!” Here are 10 conflict resolution tips for helping your child deal with a teacher he or she doesn’t like.

  • Identify the problem—if there really is one. When your child says her teacher “hates” her, ask for specific examples. Then you can determine whether she is just momentarily upset or if a problem really exists. If it is a real problem, you can keep asking questions to drill to the cause: A personality conflict? An academic problem?
  • Shift responsibility to your child by helping him or her find ways to approach the teacher without being confrontational. For example, you could coach your child to say “I don’t understand why I got a bad grade on this essay. Can you please explain it to me?”
  • Remind your child that he will have many teachers in his lifetime and that not all of them will teach exactly the way the child learns. If the child is old enough, you can explain that the same holds true for bosses once the child goes to work or other authority figures.
  • Brainstorm solutions with your child. Your child may have some ideas and opinions about what she, the teacher, or you can do to fix the problem. Gathering her input will show that her opinions are valued, and may help her be more receptive to solutions.
  • Talk to the teacher. Begin any conversation with a teacher about a problem by stating the problem clearly such as “Junior is upset because he doesn’t understand why he is getting bad grades on his essays.” Then ask the teacher “What can I do?” This approach shows the teacher that you aren’t placing the blame on him and that you don’t expect him to fix the problem alone.
  • Even if you are furious with your child’s teacher, treat her with respect. Getting angry and yelling will only make the problem worse.
  • Establish a relationship with the teacher before a problem arises. Your child’s teacher is much more likely to respond positively to a concern if you have already established a relationship with her.
  • Recognize that clashes between a teacher and a child often represent differences in personality style. For example, free-spirited children may react negatively to a teacher who adheres to strict rules. Try to convince your child she can learn from someone who has a different style.
  • Role-play with your child. For example, if your child thinks the teacher is picking on her by calling on her when she doesn’t know the answer, practice discussing with the teacher. Have your child play roles both as herself and her teacher.
  • If absolutely necessary, meet with the principal. If you feel the situation isn’t improving and the teacher is not putting forth a good faith effort, request a meeting with the principal. She may be able to more objectively assess the situation.

By using these methods, you should be able to resolve most conflicts. However, as a last resort, request your child be moved. Remember though that this option is disruptive and can have a negative impact on your child’s self-esteem. Plus, it can instill a belief in the child that if there is a conflict in life, simply avoiding it is a good option. However, if the situation is desperate, you should discuss this option with the principal.

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What are some of your favorite conflict resolution tips?