“My teacher hates me!”

How you can solve your child’s school struggles

How you can solve your child’s school struggles

When a child dislikes a teacher — or feels disliked by one — school becomes a daily struggle.
Just ask Constance Zimmer. Her stepson Harrison, got off on the wrong foot with his first grade teacher. “He felt picked on and singled out,” she recalls. “He began to act out in class and refused to participate in projects and assignments.” Fortunately, teacher-student traumas are often highly fixable.

The preschool years: Slow and steady
When a preschooler appears to dislike a teacher, longtime early childhood educator Evelyn Addis warns parents against jumping the gun and hastily switching classes or schools.
“Allow a period of adjustment for your child in any new classroom setting,” says Addis, who co-authored Monday Morning Leadership. “It takes time for classes to come together as a group.”

READ MORE: Why the first five years are critical

The grade school years: Detective duty
When a grade-schooler complains about a super-strict teacher, don’t impulsively jump to calling the principal or filing a complaint, says child and adolescent psychologist Kristen Wynns, Ph.D., founder of Wynns Family Psychology in Cary, N.C. Instead, go into detective mode: gather information about the conflict with a log. After a few weeks of documenting the problem, request a meeting with the teacher to talk about solution before you consider alternative options like changing teachers.

READ MORE: Is a co-op preschool right for you and your child?

The high school years: Obstacle course
Many teens will run into a teacher conflict during the high school years, says Wynns.
After ensuring that the class in question isn’t too easy or too advanced for the teen’s academic abilities, Wynns advises parents to avoid automatically rescuing teens who find themselves in a tough spot with a teacher. When parents encourage teens to continue in the class instead of granting them the easy way out, (like dropping the course) it conveys a strong message about the parent’s confidence in the teen, says Wynns. Teenagers who see that a parent believes they can handle a tricky situation will often rise to the occasion.

Malia Jacobson is a nationally published freelance writer and mom.