Children all around the country have returned to school this week after a short summer. Many are excited to see their friends and get back into their school routine. What’s a parent to do when school is not exactly what a child expected and he or she begins to complain? I know of one student who was fine with her assigned teacher until she heard another student say, “I had that teacher, and it was the worst year of my life!” This student came home and complained to her mother, “My friend says my teacher’s mean; I can’t be in that class!” It’s true that friends do influence a child’s thinking; however, parents influence it even more. How parents react to their child’s moments of challenge will set the tone for the school year. Here are some tips:
Be prepared. The parent who expects that the “all is great before school starts” attitude will last indefinitely is in for a big surprise. Don’t fool yourself; complaints will surface, be ready to react with a positive reframe; in other words, try to find validating, yet optimistic, responses to a child’s challenges.
Teacher assignment. When your child isn’t assigned the teacher of his choice, this is an opportunity for him to learn to adapt and be flexible.
Talk to your child about what it means to pre-judge someone. Ask him how he feels when people decide whether they like him based on what others think.
Remind him that he needs to learn to make his own judgments; you want him to be an independent thinker, and this is an opportunity to reinforce that.
Remind your child that his experiences at school do not depend on his teacher. Condoning negativity toward teachers now may backfire later when your child decides it’s OK to skip class in college because he doesn’t get along with the professor.