It’s the season for report cards and parent-teacher conferences. It’s also the time when parents may decide to confront problems their children are having in school. Or they may have come to the conclusion that their attempts to communicate with the school have just not been working.
Whether your child’s issues are emotional, physical, social, or academic, it’s not unusual for parents to become emotional and defensive when their children have a problem. One reason why your communication efforts may not be working is that school personnel may feel threatened and attacked by negative criticism. If you’re upset about something your child tells you, don’t jump to conclusions until you hear the other side. Try approaching school personnel in a respectful, calm and non-threatening manner by using an “I” message with the focus on meeting your child’s needs.
- Describe how the problem makes you or your child feel without being defensive. For example, say, “I feel helpless when my child comes home crying and tells me that children are making fun of her,” instead of, “What kind of uncaring teacher are you that you’re allowing all of the children to pick on my child?”
- Actively listen to what the professionals tell you, and then summarize, paraphrase, question, share information and brainstorm solutions. This is preferable to allowing yourself to become so emotional that you don’t listen and resort to yelling.
- Come to an agreement about a solution that meets your child’s needs. Remember it’s not about who is right or wrong. You want your child to be the winner. He’ll be the winner if school and home work cooperatively to help him succeed.
- If you’re still not satisfied, then bring additional people into the discussion. You may want to include your spouse or another relative to support you, and you may ask that the principal or assistant principal and/or the school counselor to join the meeting. Many schools have team meetings, where all the staff members who are involved with your child meet at once. You may ask to attend a team meeting.
- If you have totally exhausted all of the avenues at the school level, contact district administration.