Three weeks ago my son told his kindergarten teacher he was going to punch her in the face.
Yep, it’s true. My son threatened to punch his sweet, wonderful teacher, whom he loves, in the face. And he was promptly sent to the office. As he should be.Better for the principal to handle that - I wanted to strangle my child on sight.… Click To Tweet
You see, my child has ADHD as well as High Functioning Autism. He can read facial expressions and predict social consequences. But, and this is a huge but- he doesn’t have much empathy and so doesn’t really care about the social consequences or the feelings of others.
For a moment, try to imagine how this feels as a mother. I am sure if you have children you can put yourself in my shoes. Three times this school year I have received the dreaded phone call.
You know the one, when the phone rings and you notice the school’s number your stomach drops. Often, a mixture of humiliation, sadness and rage churns around in my belly as I feign calmness.
Believe it or not, I am kind of close with my son’s kindergarten teacher. She and I have had several wonderful conversations. I hide nothing from her, and I am relatively sure she feels comfortable discussing my son’s issues with me.
I built this relationship deliberately because well….I need help with this.
Do you feel like your relationship with your child’s teacher/s could use a lift?
With the proper strategies you can develop a positive and productive relationship with your child’s teacher. And trust me, it is soooo worth it!
Brilliant Strategies to make your relationship with your child’s teacher more productive
Whenever I meet with my child’s teacher or speak with her on the phone, I make a point to acknowledge all that she does. Thank the teacher directly for working with you to help your child to be successful.
I try to keep it light, but I always acknowledge that my child made a choice to say or do something inappropriate.
Teachers truly have one of the hardest jobs on the planet, so they need the reassurance that you are not going to attack them. It’s hard to call someone and tell them that their child threatened an adult.
Make it clear that he or she can call you anytime to discuss concerns. Try not to be inconvenienced if you get the dreaded phone call in the middle of the work day.
If paperwork comes home about an incident that occurred during the school day, make an attempt to return it on time. Sign the incident report and then request clarification if the report does not clearly indicate what occurred.
Same rule goes for email. When a teacher emails you to make you aware of a problem, email them back. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away.
Avoid Getting Defensive
As parents, it is hard to accept that our children do and say things that are not appropriate. In the privacy of our homes we can determine what is and what is not acceptable behavior. We have at least some control and awareness of what our children are doing. (hopefully)
When they are at school we cannot monitor their behavior as closely.
Have you ever said out loud, “my child wouldn’t say/do that!?”
If you have then I wouldn’t say it again. Believe me, teachers do not have time to make up stories. Yes, their perception of the situation is limited by their own personality – but it is highly unlikely that the story you are hearing is 100% false or inaccurate.
The moral of the story here is to take a breath, stand back and try to remain impartial. Which brings me to another strategy.
When someone is talking about your child, it is hard to hear anything except the pounding in your head. Whether the teacher is saying bad things or good things, every conversation is fraught with emotion.
Breathe deep and really listen to what is being said. You will find that either a) the teacher is asking you for advice, or b) the teacher is trying to communicate something important to your child’s success.
Turn off those internal voices. Let the person in front of you finish what he/she is saying before you ask a question. Make notes if you need to for later reference.
Take it all in before you formulate a response. When it is your turn to speak take a moment to choose your words wisely.
If all else fails…
Schedule a team meeting
Personally, I have only experienced a team meeting as a parent with my son’s childcare provider. But as a teacher, I was included in several team meetings, including IEP meetings.
The nice thing about a team meeting is everyone gets to actually see each other. Sometimes email breeds miscommunication because you cannot hear the tone of their voice or make eye contact. An in-person meeting eliminates all of that ambiguity.
If you asked for the meeting, then make sure you are prepared to run it. Have an agenda or a list of things you wish to discuss. Greet everyone and introduce yourself in a friendly way so that the lines of communication are open.
If the school asked for the meeting, still be friendly and greet everyone. Invite the teacher or counselor to open the meeting. Make sure you keep an open-mind and stay calm.
If you stay positive in your interactions, the teachers and school will take their cues from you and do the same.
Don’t Get Negative In Front of Your Child
If you are having a tough time with a particular teacher do your best not to talk disparagingly in front of your child. Doing so sends the message that it is ok to talk in a negative way about all teachers, and that is counterproductive.
Negativity breeds negativity and you want you child to see their education as important and enjoyable. As parents we need to take the education of our children seriously so that our children do not get the impression that it doesn’t matter.
I have worked with older students who truly did not see the value in education. After meeting the parents I understood where that attitude came from. It was a sad situation.
Proactive relationship building with teachers is so important to your child’s success. Any overtures you can make toward the people that educate your children will be appreciated and reciprocated.
With these strategies you are making your child’s teacher your partner. Both of you are in the business of learning. And you both want the same end result: successful kids.
Two heads are better, and often more productive, than one.
Now you tell me, what can we all do develop relationship with the teachers who work with our children?
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