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Syndicated column from The Parent Institute

[APRIL 21, 2006]  Q: My teen is having a problem with one of his teachers. He seems to be in constant trouble with her. He feels she's not being fair with him. What can I do?

A: Conflicts with teachers are a normal part of growing up. Your son can learn some invaluable life skills by trying to work out this problem. Tell him that, of course, you'll support him in any way you can, but make it clear that you expect him to work out this problem with his teacher. Here's what to do:

  • Acknowledge your son's feelings. Find out as much as you can about why he seems to be having problems with this teacher in particular. Listen seriously to what he tells you. You might even take notes -- but remember that there are two sides to every problem.

  • Tell your son to schedule a meeting with the teacher. He may find out that the problem stems from a simple misunderstanding. Or the problem may be that he's not turning in all his assignments for her class.

  • If the problem appears to be more serious, you may want to attend the meeting, too.

  • Be sure the teacher knows you're there to talk about ways to work things out together. Be open and honest. Often, you can solve the problem just by talking about it.

  • Be supportive of your son -- but let the teacher know you understand that teaching is a difficult job.

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  • If the meeting with the teacher doesn't work, ask to talk with the principal and the teacher together.

Tell your son you understand that he has a problem with this teacher, but reinforce the importance of working out problems. You might also talk about times in your life when you had to get along with a difficult boss or a difficult neighbor.

It's OK to let him complain a little at home, but let him know how proud you are that he's working things out. Reinforce your trust in his ability to handle the situation. Your son will gain independence and some valuable people skills by working through this problem. (After he turns in those missing assignments, she may even become one of his favorite teachers!)

[The Parent Institute]

For more information about helping children learn or to submit your own question, go to All questions will receive a prompt answer by e-mail.

Copyright 2005, The Parent Institute

"Ask the Learning Advisor -- Ideas for Raising Successful Children" is a free, syndicated column from the Parent Institute.

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