Talking with Your Child's Teachers

When your child (or teen) suffers from anxiety, school may be difficult for them. The stress of completing homework, doing well on tests and getting along with the other children may create or worsen anxiety symptoms. Parents may need to talk with teachers and request their help in creating an environment in which your child can succeed.

Creating a positive relationship with your child's teacher is not always as easy as it sounds. Parent's emotions run high when their children are suffering. Their interactions with the teachers are often ruled by emotion. Teachers, on the other hand, are frequently overworked and may react sounding angry or as if they don't care, even if the opposite is true. In reality, both parents and teachers want children to succeed in school.

Approaching the teacher positively can help develop a working relationship and develop an environment in which the student feels safe.

Approach the Teacher Without Offering Criticism

Parents sometimes use harsh or critical words when approaching teachers. For example, parents may say:

"My child's work doesn't deserve the poor grade, you must have made a mistake."

"My child would not have failed if you would have contacted me earlier."

"My child never had problems in reading before this year."

In all of the above examples, the speaker is criticizing the teacher for being incorrect or for not having done something. When spoken to in this matter, teachers may become defensive. Their reaction can create even more hostile feelings. Children are left in the middle, with no one to help him or her get through the school day.

Instead of using words like the above, try approaching a teacher with a more helpful approach, indicating your willingness to work with the teacher to help create success:

"Can we talk about the grade Susie received, she normally does much better."

"Can we set up a communication system so that in the future you can notify me if Susie is doing poorly. This way we can catch it early."

"Can we discuss ways in which we can work together to improve Johnny's reading skills?"

By approaching a teacher in this way, parents are not placing blame on anyone but rather suggesting that they work together with the teacher to make it a more successful school year.

Approach the Teacher with Requests Rather than Orders

Sometimes, parents need help from a teacher. It may be because a child has missed school and needs help in getting caught up. Or a child may need extra assistance in the classroom. Maybe your child needs to leave the classroom for a few minutes to help relieve an anxiety attack. Whatever the reason, again, there are two ways to approach the teacher.

Without meaning to, parents sometimes order teachers to do something.

"You need to help Annie with work she missed when she was sick."

"You have to help Tommy with his missing work."

Another way you might word these requests and receive a better response from the teacher might be:

"Could you please help Annie with the work she missed when she was out and help her to get caught up with her work?"

"Would you be able to please help Tommy with work that he has missed?'

By asking the teacher to help rather than demanding, you will probably get a more positive response and help to develop a better relationship, not only between you and the teacher but also between the teacher and your child.

Kindness Works

When parents approach teachers from a position of understanding and respect, more often than not, they will receive a more positive response from the teacher. Kindness works. When you reach out to the teacher in a respectful way, chances are they will respond in kind and offer you respect as well.