When you entrust your child to another person, the merest hint that your child is a target of belittling comments might send you into protective parenting mode. If you learn that a teacher is belittling your child, step in and learn what’s going on. Belittling a child can be harmful -- it’s imperative to protect your child against treatment that can wound his psyche.
Investigate the belittling as much as you can before approaching the teacher. If you can chat with your child about what happens in the classroom, sit down and have a heart-to-heart to find out how things are going at school. Ask questions about how the teacher talks to your child, treats your child, teaches the class and acts in general. Does the teacher seem happy? Relaxed? Comfortable? Or is the teacher stressed, demanding and belittling of some or all students? If you can’t talk to your own child about classroom conditions, speak with other parents to get their perspectives on how the teacher is handling the class.
Make an appointment with the teacher to discuss your concerns after you collect as much information as possible. Schedule the meeting at a time when both parents can attend, if possible, to present a unified front that's concerned about the welfare of your child. Sit calmly and tell the teacher, calmly, about what you’ve learned about what's going on in the classroom.
Listen to the teacher’s response or reaction without interrupting. You should expect the teacher to react defensively upon receiving this information. You might hear negative remarks about your child if the teacher becomes defensive.
Respond to the teacher by saying something along the lines of, “We would rather not get caught up in a battle about whether the belittling happened. Instead, our concern is that Rachel perceives she is being belittled at school. We want to ensure that whatever is happening that leads her to feel this way stops so we can change these perceptions and help our child feel safer and happier.”
Suggest a positive way to resolve the problem that will help the teacher empathize with how your child is feeling. For example, if the child feels as though the teacher is harsh or demeaning in specific conditions, you might help the teacher understand why the child perceives this. By approaching the problem cooperatively and positively, you are more likely to resolve it.
Involve school administrators if your conversation with the teacher does not result in a positive plan for resolution.
- If you cannot resolve the problem with the teacher or school officials, you might need to take your concerns to school district officials or members of the school board.
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