Q&A: Child intimidated by shouting teacherWritten by Jennifer Antonsen
Question: My five-year-old says that his teacher yells at him all the time. I feel very protective of my child. How can I address this without inadvertently making things worse?
It must be very upsetting and alarming to hear your little one say he is being yelled at regularly. Nevertheless, it’s important to pause before reacting and to calm your own emotions first.
Once you feel calm, let your child know you are glad he told you this. It’s important for children to know they have done the right thing in taking their problems to a parent. Also let your child know that you are going to try to help make things better for him at school.
To find the best solution, you first need more information. Ask your child for specific examples or stories about when he was yelled at. We know that children can misinterpret situations or exaggerate things, so it’s important to have facts. For example, does his teacher speak in a stern tone? Does she raise her voice so she can be heard above the noise of the classroom? Or does she indeed lose her temper or speak disrespectfully to the children? Once you have more information, a meeting with the teacher would be helpful.
If it seems that your son is misinterpreting the situation, it would be important for the teacher to know how your son is feeling in her classroom (scared, intimidated, etc). Starting to attend school full-time and learning how a classroom environment is structured is a big adjustment for children.
Hopefully the teacher can clear the air and address your concerns. If indeed she has been yelling at your son, it would still be good to know her perspective. For example, has your child been repeatedly ignoring her, not following safety rules, etc.
If, after meeting with the teacher, you are still concerned or if the problem does not seem to be improving over time, you should then consider asking the principal for a meeting to help resolve issues and move toward a more effective solution. Teachers and schools want to make sure their learning environment is safe and healthy for all involved.
If the teacher has indeed been acting sinfully toward your child, you will also need to help your child forgive his teacher, and help restore his self-confidence and sense of worth.
Jennifer Antonsen is a counsellor on staff at Focus on the Family Canada.
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