Children can be very sensitive to how adults, particularly teachers, speak and interact with them. Very sensitive children will see their own worth in how others treat them, even if it just their perception!
Teachers have a particularly powerful role in younger children’s lives and often what the teacher has said will trump what a parent might say! Much to a parent’s annoyance understandably!
When a child says that their teacher doesn’t like them, then the alarm bells and sense of real annoyance can arise in parents.
You like your child’s teacher. She is pleasant and seems attentive and always calls you back when you ask to speak with her. You might not want her to be her best friend but you can tell she is professional. You believe she cares for your child’s wellbeing.
In such a case you will probably be both surprised and puzzled by your child’s comment.
However, if on the other hand you have had interactions which have made you lose some trust or have made you annoyed, then your reaction will be entirely different and possibly volatile.
Time to take a big breath.
Teachers do their job because they like children and care for them. It’s a tough gig if they don’t! Most of the time, perhaps 95% of the day, they are attentive to each child who will receive their full focus when needed.
However, it is important to remember that trying to correct the work of 24 children before the lunch bell goes, all of whom have different need, is not easy. The teacher is dealing with a school day which is overly busy. They need to teach the curriculum, look after individual needs both academic and emotional. This can lead to hurried and short interactions which can be easily taken as gruffness, disapproval or lack of interest, particularly through the eyes of a sensitive child.
A child who is highly sensitive to disapproval will be on the look-out for negative experiences and can be bitterly hurt when perceived slights happen.
If you like the teacher then you are in a great position to rationally talk through the incident with your child. Point out the stressors which the teachers deals with and also, all the times when there have been very positive and happy interactions.
Ensure they know any gruffness is not personal.
If you do not particularly like the teacher then you have a doubly difficult, but nonetheless, important role to play in ensuring your child maintains a good relationship with them. You need to put aside your own feelings and strive to smooth over the incident.
You may feel the need to speak with the teacher to explain what your child is feeling and that you are concerned it might impact on the working relationship of the teacher and child, which inevitably will affect the student. Sometimes this is all that is needed for the teacher to be more aware of the child’s perceptions of the situation.
If indeed, there has been an incident involving your child which has resulted in the teacher being annoyed or overly brusque with them, then it is essential to talk this through.
Time to stay very calm and composed. Ask how the teacher believes they can improve the teacher/student relationship and how you can support these actions. Make a timetable of how often and when to check in with the teacher to monitor how the plan is progressing.
Reassure your child that everyone is working towards making their time at school as happy and productive as possible and that you and the teacher are working together.
A year in a classroom can seem a long time for a child and even longer for a parent! It is therefore very important that the adults step up and work it through for the sake of the student.