It’s a familiar tale. A child goes to school, comes home and reveals that he or she hates — hates! — the teacher.
So what is a parent to do?
Julia Shaftel, director of the Center for Psychoeducational Services at Kansas University, says there’s no one way to pinpoint the root of the problem.
“That involves a whole lot of possibilities between the teacher and the student,” she says. “Most kids are eager to go to school because it is an exciting social situation, and they like their teachers and they want to please their teachers. But sometimes it doesn’t pan out that way.”
Before jumping to any conclusions, parents need to consider both sides of the story, says Keri Prichard, school psychologist at Schwegler School and Southwest Junior High School.
“I think it’s really important to consider both sides of the situation,” she says. “Sometimes students have a really good perspective at picking up on those kinds of things.”
Shaftel says sometimes students might not be giving the whole story.
“I think parents have to be careful to understand and trust and believe their child,” she says. “But at the same time, recognize they’re only getting one point of view.”
Once parents hear from their children, they can discuss the problem with the teacher, Shaftel says.
“The first thing to do is for the parents and teacher to talk, because parents need to know the teacher has a perspective,” Shaftel says.
If the teacher and parents can’t resolve the situation, parents can contact guidance counselors or principals for additional support.
But Tina Mitchell, a counselor at West Junior HIgh School, says classroom conflicts often work themselves out.
“Ninety-nine percent of the time it’s just a misunderstanding, and it resolves itself,” she says.
And the silver lining?
“School is preparing us for the future,” Mitchell says. “We’re educating kids to be constructive, productive citizens. There might be times when you don’t like your boss. You have to deal with it.”