Loggerheads: What To Do if Your Child Doesn’t Like the Teacher

Posted December 20, 2011 by

It may begin on Day 1 or several weeks (or months) into the school year, but at some point in most children’s academic lives, they’ll come home announcing emphatically, “I hate my teacher and she hates me!”

Here’s how to take action:

  • Talk with your child. Say, for example, “I know you keep telling me you don’t like Mrs. Smith. Can you tell me some of the things she does that you don’t like?” Listen carefully—don’t put words in your child’s mouth. He may miss his teacher from last year. Or, he may be worried about fitting in to a new class.
  • Make an appointment to talk with the teacher. Let her know what you’ve heard. Say something like, “I’m not here to criticize; instead, I’m here so you and I can work together to solve this problem.”
  • Be prepared to listen to the teacher and reach a compromise. Perhaps the teacher can reassign desks, or give your child a little more warning that it’s time to finish a project. Or even give your child a bit more attention.
  • Write it down. After the meeting, write an email or a note to the teacher outlining what you’ve discussed so there aren’t misunderstandings. Be sure to thank her for her time.
  • Fill your child in. Let your child know that you and the teacher have talked—and what changes may be made. Listen carefully for the next few days. Often, a few changes may help your child start to feel better about school and the teacher.
  • If the problem persists… If there’s still a problem, talk with someone else from the school—perhaps a counselor or the principal. You may also need to tell your child, “It’s okay not to like every teacher. But sometimes we have to learn to work with people we don’t like.” In some extreme cases, children do need to be moved to another teacher, but only as a last resort.


Carol Brooks Ball is the editor of SchoolFamily.com, a website that offers parents ways to help their children be successful in school. SchoolFamily.com has tips about homework; studying; academic and social changes by grade level; information about keeping your child healthy; printable math, reading, and science worksheets; social and emotional developmental issues; and much, much more. Portions of this article were previously published at SchoolFamily.com.

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  1. justathought (Edit) Report

    kids are not always the problem sometimes it is the teachers. I have witnessed teachers who bully kids and then are the nicest people when talking to parents and staff. You may want to do some investigating if it is abnormal for your child to not like someone there may be more to the story. I learned the hard way and found out that my son had a teacher that really was bullying the children and every attempt to solve the problem led to more embarrassment for my child. For the most part teachers are good and I support what they do but I have come to realize they are not all good there are some bad “apples” in the mix.

  2. Chris (Edit) Report

    Thanks Sara!
    I have never thought to ask my son what he was thinking when he behaves inappropriately. Your reference article will be very helpful. I see that I have been mostly giving consequences without discussing what he was thinking or how to do things different so he does not get the consequences. This will work well!

  3. Sara Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor (Edit) Report

    Hi Chris. This is a challenging situation. You and your ex-wife are looking at your son’s behavior from a completely different perspective and that’s really tough to handle. What’s even harder is remembering that you cannot control your ex-wife or how she chooses to parent your son in her home. It would be most effective for you to focus on yourself and what you can do to help your son improve his behavior. You are already doing some really great role-modeling and you’re doing a good job of challenging his thinking, i.e. telling him that just because he doesn’t like the teacher doesn’t mean he can be disrespectful to her. The best thing you can do is add some problem-solving discussions to your approach. For example, ask him what he was thinking when he was disrespectful, reiterate your rules and expectations, ask your son what he will do differently next time, and then give him the consequence. You are already doing a great job of holding your son accountable, now he needs you to help him learn some new skills so he can change his behavior. I am including an article about problem solving for more information. Good luck as you work through this and take care. The Surprising Reason for Bad Child Behavior: “I Can’t Solve Problems”

  4. Chris (Edit) Report

    My son does not like his teacher, and I am struggling to get him to show more respect toward her. I am divorced and my ex-wife use to be a teacher’s aide at the school my son attends. This year, she is at a different school. When she was at the same school, I think she let my son get away with things he shouldn’t have by coming to his rescue. She was also good friends with many of the teachers, and it seems the teachers would let my son get away with misbehaving while other students were held to a higher standard simply due to the friendship they had with my ex. Now that my ex-wife is not at the school, and my son has a new teacher, he is finding he doesn’t have mom to run to when he misbehaves or is held to the rules like the other students. He has become disrespectful to his teacher, and does not follow the rules like he should. Both my ex and I have talked with the teacher, and the teacher sends us both emails when my son either misbehaves or has a good week. I fully support the teacher, and believe my son is trying to get away with following the rules. My ex-wife has expressed to my son that she does not like his teacher either, which makes my son think it is fine to be disrespectful, because his mom has the same feeling he does. My ex does not give any consequences to my son if he misbehaves at school, while I do give consequences when the teacher informs me of his bad behavior. My ex claims the school can deal with his bad behavior, and she doesn’t think my son has done anything wrong–she says “he is just being himself”. If my son tells me he misbehaved before I hear it from his teacher, the consequence is not as harsh as it would be if I only hear it from his teacher. My problem is two-fold: 1) How do I get my son to be more respectful to his teacher (i.e., follow the rules without thinking he should get a pass like prior years)? Even when he misbehaves at school while at his mom’s house? 2)How can I convince my ex-wife to teach my son he has to follow the rules like any other student regardless of his feelings toward the teacher?

  5. Rebecca Wolfenden, Parental Support Advisor (Edit) Report

    To Smita: It is really hard to watch our children struggle with changes in routine, and starting school is a BIG change! It is pretty normal for children, especially younger ones, to resist changes in routine. It also takes time to learn how to play with others. This skill is harder for some kids to develop. Without knowing your son, it is difficult for me to answer your question specifically about what might be going on for him. We recommend continuing to talk with his teacher about how he is doing in class, and perhaps consulting with his doctor as well. Good luck to you and your son as you continue to work on this.

  6. Smita (Edit) Report

    My kid is 2 yrs old and recently started going to playschool. He is hyperactive, very expressive but does not play with children of his age group and prefers elder friends who are caring. He is usually hurt or not involved while playing with children of his age.
    Now, he is afraid of school and daily cries like anything while going there. His teacher confirmed that he cries for some time but later participates in activites but still keeps away from children.
    Please guide me what I can do from my side to make him feel comfortable as 3 weeks have gone and he is still terrified of school. I am a working lady and my mother is taking care of him since birth.



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