When Junior hates the teacher
Here’s what to do when your kids don’t click with their teacher.
Here’s what to do when your kids don’t click with their teacher.
THE alarm sounds just before dawn. Sleepdeprived parents everywhere stumble into their kitchens to guzzle coffee and muster up the strength to confront their cranky lethargic lion cubs, deep in slumber. This typical scenario occurs in many households, day after day, and all parents share similar complaints. It’s time to wake up your kid for school and he doesn’t want to go.
A lucky few parents have the type of kid that arises with gusto and full of positive energy ready to embrace the day. Then there’s the kid that remains in a stupor until well after arriving at school. Finally, there’s the child that falls somewhere in between. However, many are also blessed with “the defiant one”, the child that leaves parents drained as the button is stuck on rewind and the same battle is fought over again each morning. He hates his teacher and refuses to get up. But there is something more going on here, and parents need to be sensitised to what is really happening “behind the scenes.”
Dig deeper and don’t undermine instructor’s authority: Parents need to identify the basic premise as to why the child doesn’t “like the teacher” or want to go to school. The problem either has to do with the instructor directly or a personal problem the child is experiencing within the learning environment. This can be anything ranging from bullying, an undiagnosed hearing problem or learning disability, peer pressures, sleep deprivation or workload issues.
It’s crucial that the parents try to remain objective, pragmatic and not “jump the gun”. The worst thing parents can do is validate their child’s negative feelings toward the authority figure prior to the culmination of a proper “investigation”.
James Lehman, a behavioural therapist and author of the Behavioral Modification Program, The Total Transformation emphasises: “When you side with your children, you are actually undermining your own authority in the process. ... It’s a mistake to denigrate authority figures with your children, even if you agree with them. Keep the focus on the matter at hand, and off your child’s feelings about their teacher.”
Lehman tells it like it is. He insists that “almost every kid will eventually have a teacher they don’t like, but that’s not an excuse for them to refuse to follow the rules of the classroom.” To be successful in the real world, these kids will have to deal with all kinds of people and its best that they learn this fact of life now.
Parents can lend support by taking an active role in their child’s education and establish a partnership with the school. Creating viable alliances with key players that have direct involvement with the child – be it the actual teacher, a guidance counselor, principal or librarian – will advocate for your child from the other side. If the child still insists that the problem is the teacher, once all other options have been eliminated, perhaps it’s necessary that a parent sit in on the classroom and observe, suggests Lehman.
Teach the child effective problem-solving skills and make him take responsibility: It all boils down to children’s problem-solving skills and their need to learn about responsibility and accountability, according to therapist Lehman. Avoidance of school is actually a coping method many children adopt to make the problem disappear. For example, Lehman asserts that it’s best to combat a child’s cry of “boredom” with the reality that they have to go to school even when bored. That’s their responsibility. “It’s not about your mood, it’s your responsibility...” purports Lehman. Once this sense of accountability is instilled and realistic expectations are consist-
Facing the consequences
Identify appropriate motivators and consequences: Frankly, millions of Americans awake each morning for work, whether or not they really want to. These folks have internalised that the consequences of not doing so could be as severe as losing their jobs, not being able to feed their families, or going homeless. Thus, Lehman recommends that “... the same motivation and consequences apply to your child when he doesn’t want to go to school, and he needs to be taught this at an early age. The key is not getting into a power struggle with the child, and effectively connecting the consequence to the situation.”
Setting limits and letting the child face the consequences for his actions: Lehman assures that a child not wanting to go to school is symptomatic of that kid’s inability to “meet his responsibilities overall in school or at home.” This is a problem that has to be examined under the microscope as parents need to assess and re-evaluate how their child handles responsibilities in general. Perhaps it’s time to re-set limits and if the expectations are not met, the child must face the natural consequences and resulting failure, be it the case.
As parents, it’s difficult to adapt a more passive role in our child’s development, but in the long-run, the consequence of not doing so could do more harm than good. Sometimes we should avoid shielding the child from the costs of his own destructive behavior. Additionally, therapist Lehman contends that “parents should work on accepting that as children become teenagers and young adults, the responsibility, the accountability and the social consequences falls more on them than on you. He advises: “Do the very best you can, and then accept what you have no control over.” Easier said than done?
As a society, we do little to uphold Lehman’s “tough love theory”. Our culture promulgates the concept that “kids should not be held accountable for not meeting their responsibilities”. This phenomenon has been born out of the psychological analyses of all the whys that justify and explain away the kid’s defiant conduct. In order to get kids to do the hard work and learn the appropriate survival skills, they need to have a predictable and transparent motivation/consequence system in operation — established jointly by the parents and the school.
Straight-talking expert Lehman concludes: “As an educational culture, we have accepted the myth that kids don’t benefit from being held sternly accountable. The acceptance of this myth is producing so much mediocrity in our teenagers and young adults.”
By being overprotective parents and seeking to save our kids from themselves, we may inadvertently be causing irreparable damage – namely, assisting them carve out a bleak future: one of dependence precipitated by an immature and underdeveloped work ethic. – McClatchyTribune News Service