General Question

waitingforgodot's avatar

How do I help my daughter learn to get along with her teachers?

Asked by waitingforgodot (78points) March 3rd, 2013

Hello, all you jellies!
I’ve been browsing fluther for ages – now, I have a question myself:
My oldest daughter (just turned thirteen) has been having problems at school. She’s been sent home a couple of times, I’ve received some letters from the principal… By now, she is getting frustrated herself – she says, quote, “I don’t want to be like that, but I can’t help it sometimes.” I’d like to know whether any of you had similar problems. How did you teach your children to stay calm? Any strategies you might have suggested to them? For the most part, it’s little things that upset her – a teacher telling her off for not being punctual, for example. Sometimes, the teacher in question may actually be talking to one of her classmates, and she will voluntarily get in the middle of it – which results in her getting into trouble again, of course.
Any and all suggestions are greatly appreciated, we’re really quite desperate by now. Thanks in advance!

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

33 Answers

filmfann's avatar

You need to figure out if the comment the teacher makes is too forceful, or if it is a small comment that builds in the child’s mind.
When my daughter was 13, you could say a dozen nice things about her, and somewhere in there have a quick, unemphasized criticism about her shoes not matching her dress, and that will be all she would focus on. It would grow in her mind to the point that I practically assaulted her with the fashion police.

Shippy's avatar

If I were you, I would go into the school personally and see the principal and teachers if possible. This way you can get a firm grip on the situation in terms of her behavior. If there is a school guidance teacher or counselor call on their help. A question to ask might be whether her behavior is problematic enough for an assessment. Many children are presenting with ADHD, ADD etc., and if caught quickly can be modified. (As opposed to spending years at school becoming the so called black sheep.) Which can lead to self esteem problems later on in life.

glacial's avatar

@Shippy Are many children presenting, or are many doctors prescribing? I would be cautious about rushing to have my child tested in the present climate, unless I personally thought it was warranted. Disclaimer: I am not a parent, though many of my friends are dealing with teachers who appear overeager to have their kids assessed.

waitingforgodot's avatar

Thanks for those quick answers! I have been to the school – and the problem is, I don’t agree with her teachers for the most part. My daughter is a very responsible, smart and courageous girl. She does get along with most of her teachers, but there is a particular one that I find pretty unreasonable. He has a very negative attitude towards all his students, and I can’t even blame my daughter if she contradicts him. The problem is, that guy will be in her life whether she likes it or not. I’ve always encouraged her to speak up when someone is being treated unfairly, but right now, it’s hurting her. She needs to learn not to let him get to her…

rooeytoo's avatar

All through life we come into contact with people we don’t particularly like or agree with. The problem is if that person is in a position higher than us, as in boss, senior co worker, etc. I think it is a lesson that should be learned when young. Sometimes you can’t have it your way, sometimes you have to bite your tongue. Unless a teacher is doing something that is outright inappropriate, the bottom line is tough stuff, he/she is the teacher, the boss! You say you have encouraged her to speak up, perhaps now you should encourage her to shut up and recognize authority.

JoeyOhSoClever's avatar

@waitingforgodot true there will always be people in our lives we contradict or not necessarily like but it’s good to learn how to be civil with them. So let me get this straight, you have already figured out exactly what your daughter does not like about the teacher down to the specifics, and after you gained this information you went and spoke with the teacher about the things your daughter does not like and how he makes her feel?

waitingforgodot's avatar

@JoeyOhSoClever : I have not spoken to the teacher himself, no. I don’t think that would help, either. While he might have a rather inefficient style of teaching, I won’t be able to change that. The one I’m trying to change is my daughter.
@rooeytoo : That’s what I’m saying. I’m trying to find ways to help her do exactly that – bite her tongue. She gets why it’s an important thing to be learning, too. She just has trouble controlling herself. I can’t relate very well, that’s why I’m trying to find some ‘free spirits’ – how did you learn to keep your temper?

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

Like @glacial, I’m reluctant to reach for ADHD. This very-real condition has become so over-diagnosed, its importance is diminished. It seems to be the first answer grabbed by so many therapists and health care providers.

But, people with ADHD tend to say inappropriate comments, intrude in conversations, and behave in ways that they quickly regret. It’s as if the internal monologue gets turned inside out and all normal filters disappear. Thoughts that are best left unsaid get blurted, and imprudent behavior happens so easily. Often, the person will know that he/she is doing the wrong thing but can’t stop.

If your daughter’s usually a well-behaved, well-mannered child, and if she generally treats her elders with respect, this is at least worth consideration.

waitingforgodot's avatar

@SadieMartinPaul and @Shippy : I didn’t even consider ADHD, since it’s not that she doesn’t know what she’s saying. She doesn’t agree with her teacher, and she is too honest not to say so. This happens only when speaking to that particular teacher – very rarely when she’s at home. And she has absolutely no trouble concentrating – she does very well in her other lessons.

JoeyOhSoClever's avatar

@rooeytoo Regardless of authority we must also try to create a a good atmosphere for the students and teachers in order to get the teachings across clearly. Creating a productive workplace is essential. From what @waitingforgodot has stated her daughter isn’t the only one who has recognized the the negative attitude the teacher is giving the students. Before you take her to get assessed for any disorder I would try to get as many see many perspectives of people at the school. Talk with the teacher about the problems or talk with the principle about the problems.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

@waitingforgodot “I didn’t even consider ADHD, since it’s not that she doesn’t know what she’s saying”

I have ADHD and, unfortunately, it wasn’t diagnosed until middle-age. I always knew exactly what I was saying, and I didn’t need to wait for reflection or remorse. While I was speaking, I could hear myself desperately thinking, “Shut up. Stop talking now. Don’t say anything. Please just shut up!” And, my behavior was triggered more by some people than by other people.

livelaughlove21's avatar

Sounds like a problem with authority, or even an anger issue. Are there a lot of rules at your house or is she free to do as she pleases? Does she talk back to you when you tell her to do something? If it’s more than one teacher she has an issue with, I seriously doubt that a teacher is the problem here.

Other than that, maybe there’s a problem at school she’s not telling you about. Maybe she’s projecting frustration from another source onto teachers.

I’d try to talk to her about it and feel out the situation. Talk to teachers as well. If all else fails, see a counselor with her or have her go alone. This is a serious problem if she’s being sent home for her behavior. Detention is one thing, but being sent home is a major issue.

waitingforgodot's avatar

@SadieMartinPaul : I didn’t know it was possible for ADHD to be triggered by certain people…thanks for clearing that up. What about her being able to concentrate so well, though? Do you think it’s possible to have ADHD and still be able do that?
@livelaughlove21 : There are rules, definitely. She does talk back occasionally, but not exceedingly so. And I wouldn’t even say the teacher’s a problem – he’s a challenge. That’s why I’m asking for your own experience with managing tempers flaring up. I have talked to her, and she agrees that she needs to learn to control herself. She just needs help doing that. As to her being sent home – that is pretty common at her school and – weirdly – not seen as a major issue at all.

JoeyOhSoClever's avatar

Again I’m only speaking from experience. When I was in grade school there were a couple of teachers that I disagreed with that and counselors that suggested I get assessed for ADHD. I was always well behaved loved school and the experience so fights with teachers were very out of character. I never got tested for ADHD, however my mother and I would have discussions with the teachers about what the problems were and the teachers and I would work them out through the semester. That’s all I’m suggesting that if somehow the teacher and your daughter can talk through the differences or work through them before getting tested. If in fact you don’t think it’s possible and she does seem to have uncontrollable outbursts of anger towards the teacher, it wouldn’t hurt to be tested.

waitingforgodot's avatar

@JoeyOhSoClever : If it were any other teacher, I would definitely try that. This guy will not change. Countless parents have tried. He doesn’t do anything even remotely abusive, so there’s not a lot we can do. I wish I could talk to him, but I’m completely sure that would only make matters worse.

JoeyOhSoClever's avatar

I see your concern. Have you asked your daughter what she would like to do about the situation? As far as speaking with the teacher, principle, or getting tested?

waitingforgodot's avatar

She recognizes the teacher will not change. She wants to learn how to control herself, bite her lip and just get through it. She keeps asking me how I do it – but the truth is, I would never even get as worked up as she does in the first place.

JoeyOhSoClever's avatar

Ok well if she wants to take the initiative to control herself, maybe try setting up an appointment with a local counselor,therapist, or psychologist? They would be able to try to relate to her frustrations (as long as she fully cooperates) and be able to come up with multiple ways to teach her how to control herself. This may take a while depending in your daughters case and abilities to apply while I realize this problem may need urgent fixing it may not possible. Also, the professionals should be able to realize by talking if the problem is stemming from something else as in a disorder of sorts.

waitingforgodot's avatar

Thanks, @JoeyOhSoClever . I will call a professional and make an appointment, just to make sure we’re dealing with her as we should be, and to exclude any disorders. But as you said, it’s getting worse every day she doesn’t know how to control herself…

JoeyOhSoClever's avatar

You’re very welcome. I am just hoping something is figured out. Everyone deserves to feel comfortable in school.

rooeytoo's avatar

I am of a different generation. We did not dream of talking back or sassing teachers or other authority figures. I would not have complained to my parents about a teacher who wasn’t doing it right. So fear is what kept me and my peers biting our tongues. @JoeyOhSoClever – that is the major difference, you think the teacher has to be entice children to learn, then it was the kid’s job to learn and from my class of about 35 there are several doctors, lawyers, engineers and other assorted people so it must have worked.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

@waitingforgodot “I didn’t know it was possible for ADHD to be triggered by certain people.”

I wouldn’t phrase it quite that way. The ADHD is always there, but behavior varies. Some people, circumstances, and situations make it more difficult to cope. Your daughter could certainly be fine around most of her teachers yet be “set off” by this one teacher.

“What about her being able to concentrate so well, though?”

I’m the queen of concentration! Because my mind tended to jump around and be so easily distracted, I mastered the art of tuning out the world and focusing intensely.

augustlan's avatar

Learning to manage her temper may just be a matter of maturing. One of my children has had trouble controlling her emotional responses (both good and bad), but as she has grown she has gained much better control. She is maturing out of it at her own pace. She did go to counseling (for anxiety issues) when she was younger, and learned many tools that helped her get to this point, but mostly…it was just a matter of her getting older. She’s doing really well, now!

While she was going through the worst of it, my daughter had a bad teacher who certainly didn’t help matters. After meeting with the school (counselor/vice principal/teacher), and determining that this teacher wasn’t going to be helpful, we had her switched to another teacher. Is that a possibility in your daughter’s case?

I understand that sometimes we just have to buck up and handle stuff that makes us angry, but if it’s impacting her learning and causing this much trouble, it may make sense to switch.

JoeyOhSoClever's avatar

@rooeytoo You’re very true. I was raised with respect as well. Respect you elders and authority figures. But in my opinion people are now realizing there is a fine line between a child just misbehaving and a child actually having a serious psychological issue that needs to be worked on. That’s why you are starting to see more middle-aged people just now getting diagnosed with something like ADHD, while all the time in school they were told and often disciplined to “shape up” and “respect your elders” when it was really something out of their control. Trying to control a disorder by yourself with “discipline” often leads people to become either isolated or struggle with self esteem issues by truly never feeling comfortable. THIS can ruin people’s lives until it is finally diagnosed. That is why I’m calling for awareness on both sides, parents and teachers. If the teachers are aware of the difference in misbehaving and deeper issues a problem can be solved rather quickly. The teacher can call for a parent teacher conference to try and work on a misbehavior issue if it is that. If the problems are still there after the conference then it’s the parents responsibility to know about psychological issues and to talk with their children to decide if they need to get them tested. It’s just my opinion of course.

longgone's avatar

If that teacher has problems with such a lot of kids, isn’t the school interested in finding out why that is?

waitingforgodot's avatar

@rooeytoo – yes, fear will do that. But I’m glad she’s not afraid of her teachers.
@SadieMartinPaul – I must say, that surprised me again. Learning a lot today…
@augustlan: Thanks for your encouragement. I hope I’ll be able to say the same in a few years. Unfortunately, switching is not an issue. The man has problems with a lot of students, and the school knows that. Now, they just wait for him to retire. They’ve given up on solving the problem. You say your daughter learned ‘tools’ at counseling – anything that would apply to our situation?

waitingforgodot's avatar

@longgone : ^ here’s why the school isn’t interested.

JLeslie's avatar

When I was in fourth grade I had my first male teacher and he used to upset me once in a while. In retrospect I see what an amazing teacher he was overall. But, back to when I was a little girl, I think it was difficult for me to handle a man telling me something I didn’t want to here. His tone, or something. I can’t even put my finger on it. I have no idea if this applies in your situation. Obviously your daughter is much older than I was. Has she had other male teachers?

The other thing I would ask is when she is at home how does your family handle being frustrated. Does she witness her father being short tempered, or do you interrupt into other people’s conversations, or vice versa, etc, etc. If there is a chance she is picking it up from family life then she is following what is being modeled for her. I am not assuming anything, just outting it out there.

If it is just this one teacher it is either the teacher, or just her rapport with the teacher. If she only has him for one period and it won’t be easy to get the class changed, then she needs to practice stifling herself I guess. I doubt she is ADD if she can focus and behave in most areas of her life.

Therapy might help her deal with it. Help her accept life is unfair, some things are out of her control, not to go to anger, and how better to stay in control.

waitingforgodot's avatar

@JLeslie She has had male teachers before, so that can’t be it. As to your other question:
My husband is rather even-tempered, as am I. We do interrupt each other frequently, because we talk a lot and tend to be caught up in the conversation. I guess that’s something she could have picked up.

But the thing is… I don’t want her to change overall. She gets along great with us and her siblings, she has friends, is happy and does well in school. Apart from her messy room, there is literally only one thing I would like to see my daughter change – her behavior when dealing with that one teacher. So we’re not talking about a difficult child here, I’m just asking for help with that particular issue. I know there’s a lot of ways to keep calm, but apart from the infamous ‘go to your happy place’, I don’t know any. And I wish I did. :/

JLeslie's avatar

@waitingforgodot I think I would have trouble advising my daughter in the same situation. Difficult situation. I don’t know about a happy place? I don’t know what that is? I think use her intelligence. Sounds like she is a bright lovely child. Ask her to think it through. What does she want to gain when she interrupts or has these reactions that she herself is not happy about in herself. She is trying to accomplish something that will not be accomplished the way she is going about it. She needs to outpsych this teacher. She will feel more in control of the situation if she can reframe it. Is she trying to get her way? Defend another student? Fight for justice when she sees something unfair? Whatever it is maybe she needs to think like Dr. Phil when he says, “how’s that working for you?” if it is not productive she needs to find a new choice of behaviors to acheive what she wants. Logically thinking it through might help her control herself. If her goal becomes just get through this term and try not to make waves, maybe she can shut down her need to interfere. I would stress that in life sometimes we have to deal with people like this, but most people are not like this teacher.

Just a thought. I don’t know if that is good advice or not.

waitingforgodot's avatar

@JLeslie : Very good advice, I think. A happy place is a place in your imagination. Your mother’s kitchen, for example, or a beautiful garden. I understand it helps people with anxiety disorders to detach themselves from situations they feel overwhelmed by, so those people will sometimes get advised to find a “happy place” to go to. I’m looking for strategies like this.
I like the idea of asking her to use her intelligence, thanks for that! She needs to think it through first, and I might be able to persuade her like this.

JLeslie's avatar

@waitingforgodot Just to clarify I mean think it through at home with you before he next incident happens. What is her end goal, and what will she do next time something like this happens. What will she plan to be her reaction and why. Planning a reaction will make the reaction more likely to go smoothly. Right now she is reacting spontaneously.

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther