I know you answer questions in the order in which they're received, but someone once told me you push questions to the top if they are "emergency" and I think this one is!!!!!
The first day of school, my son said he didn't like his teacher. I told him to give her a chance. The second day he said he still didn't like her but it was the day before the weekend and he didn't talk about it again so I figured it would pass. Today, Tues, the third day of school, he said in the morning, "I'm giving her another chance." After school he said he still doesn't like her.
I need help, quick!! I don't want to be an interfering parent; my mom was one of those and it always embarrassed me. But clearly something isn't working!!
Do I call the teacher? The principal? Do I drag him in kicking and crying?! Help, help, help!
From: Upset & unsure (city withheld on request)
Dear Upset & Unsure,
It sounds like your son is indeed on his way to not wanting to go to school. School refusal is serious because it takes on a life of its own. So, yes, you absolutely call the teacher FIRST (you always want to go up the chain) and then the principal. Call the teacher and leave a message as soon as you read this. Ask her to call or email you asap. If she doesn't, then put in a message to the principal and tell her you've got a potential case of school refusal on your hands and you need guidance.
You don't want to let him stay home; just one day of letting him stay home makes it that much harder for him to go back. What's more, by keeping him home, you become an enabler: "Mom/dad doesn't think I can handle this...." Doesn't matter what "this" is; in his mind, it's insurmountable.
So what is "this"? Most likely, on that first day, he interpreted something the teacher said or did to mean that she doesn't like him. It might have been a look she gave him or a tone of voice. It could be so insignificant that she won't remember what it was or maybe she will remember having been stern with him.The other possibility is that he something happened that made him feel inadequate. This is a stage of development when kids are more and more aware of each other's and their own abilities: "John reads chapter books and I don't." Whatever it is, kids are sensitive and you and the teacher need to get to the bottom of it.
Has your son been able to be specific about why he doesn't like the teacher? If he is, even if what he says sounds like nothing to you, offer a sympathetic response: "Sounds like that really upset/embarrassed you." That makes him not feel alone with his feelings. Then you can say, "Sometimes things happen at school that we don't like. It makes you wish you didn't have to go. But you do."
Once the teacher is aware this is happening, expect her to go out of her way to make him feel comfortable in the classroom. I know what you mean by having been embarrassed by your mom as a child; I think that's happened to almost everyone sooner or later. But right now, you need to be a proactive mom. For more on the subject, here's a Q and my A from a few years ago, as well as a piece I like that the NYU Child Study Center sent parents a few years ago.
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