Back to school season is one of great anticipation mixed with nervous excitement. An opportunity for new beginnings with the teacher in the classroom.
I am sure that you have come across an adolescent who said “I do not like my teacher or I do not want to go to school” As a parent what can you do to ensure there is a connection with your teen’s teacher and that your teen enjoys going to school knowing that education is the pathway to the future.
Research has shown the important benefits to children of having positive relationships with their teachers characterized by warmth and trust leading to better academic and social performance in children. Having these positive interactions with teachers also assist children to develop positive values and attitudes related to school and this seems to help their motivation even beyond the classroom.
The opposite seem to be true; where children who have positive relationships with their teachers tend to do well in the future, children who have poor relationships may have a more difficult school experience. So what can parents do?
Parents want to help their children manage conflicts with their teachers so that they will feel better about themselves and feel less distressed about going to school. Parents face a number of issues when thinking about the best ways to help their children negotiate these sticky situations. I am suggesting that parents engage their teens in the problem solving approaches. Parents may want to fix the problem themselves but It is a great opportunity to help your teens develop a sense of independence, problem solving and perspective taking skills.
Would you believe that sometimes they do not want you to solve the problems? They just want you to listen to them and validate their feelings. If however they seem to need more support after you have listened for awhile, allow them to vent their feelings and then followup with open ended questions and asking for specific examples. Help your teens to step back from the problem and view it from the teacher’s perspective. Pre-teens and adolescents have the ability to put themselves in another person’s shoes, although they may need a little coaching to get there. Doing this will help them to better understand the problem and generate some appropriate problem solving strategies.
Strive to encourage your teens to have a teacher-student conference first. You may help by role playing this out at home. If there is only limited success with the teacher, by all means, do step in by arranging a meeting with the teacher and your teen. Be sure that you give allowance to hear the teacher’s side of the story because your have only heard your teen’s perspectives.
Work together to develop strategies for changes or improvement. Classroom conflicts with teachers will inevitable arise. There are many options in supporting adolescents in handling such conflicts. Use active listening, problem solving approaches and role modelling to help them resolve the issues. Open and positive approaches with teachers will help to resolve conflicts and parents can be the role model when working together to resolve conflicts.