What can you do if your child’s teacher is a bully? Do you suspect that your child’s teacher is bullying your child? Your child says his teacher shouts at him or embarrasses him in front of the class. Each school morning, he doesn’t want to go to school or says he feels sick. He used to do well in school, but his grades are dropping.
Watch this podcast episode to hear five things you can do if you suspect your child’s teacher is a bully.
I have been sharing a six episode series on labeling our children.
In Episode 83 called Stop Labeling Children: How Negative Labels Hurt, Bailey shared how she came home with bruises from an abusive Kindergarten Teacher. She didn’t stay long in that class, but when she was diagnosed with ADHD in first grade, verbal abuse continued with the “Bad Kid” label and being called too loud, too energetic, too wild, too strong headed, and stupid. In grade 4, she and three other classmates were told to stand in front of the class with their backs to the class as the class called them “outcast.” Those negative labels unfortunately became her identity and stayed with her into adulthood.
IS YOUR CHILD’S TEACHER A BULLY?
Perhaps you suspect that your child is experiencing the same emotional and verbal negative, shaming mistreatment in the classroom as Bailey did. I want to share five tips for what to do if your child is experiencing emotional or verbal bullying by another adult such as a teacher.
By emotional and verbal bullying by a teacher, I mean demeaning remarks, shouting, or repeated discipline without cause. If another student is bullying your child and the teacher does not step in to stop it or even joins in on the bullying, that’s emotional and verbal bullying. If a teacher calls your child out or gives negative evaluations in front of class to embarrass him, that’s emotional and verbal bullying.
GET THE FULL STORY
Listen to your child and ask them to explain what they are experiencing in the classroom. Get as many details as you can to better understand the situation.
Lean forward, look him in the eyes, and let them talk. If there is a long silence, just wait. Let them know with your patience and gentle body language that you care and you’ll sit with them in their feelings of anger, pain, hurt, shame. Doing so provides them with emotional support. Ask questions to better understand what happened.
Don’t minimize, down play, or deny their experiences in the classroom. It’s a big deal to them. You were not in the classroom to see what went on, but it happened to your child so it’s important to him. And you want him to feel safe coming to you in the future.
Remember that, you are hearing one side of the story at this point so don’t get all Mama Bear, heated and rowed up yet. Be unbiased and patient in getting the entire story that you can piece it all together. The clearer the picture you can get, the easier it will be to get help and to find a resolution.
Write it all down. Keep a record of the date, time, what your child said, and who was present.
TALK TO THE TEACHER
As I said before, while what your child experienced is important, there is always two sides to the story.
Could it be that something was taken the wrong way? Could it be a miscommunication?
A teacher may not realize how what they say or do comes across to their students. Maybe they think they are being constructive and positive but it came across to the child’s perspective as negative. Your child could have taken what the teacher said the wrong way because they already feel frustrated or sad or angry with their school work.
When a Miscommunication Occurs
Miscommunication happens at home, too. You try to encourage your kids and challenge them to grow and mature in an area of their life or you’re just trying to help them with their homework and it ends up in tears and shouting and a big misunderstanding, right?! Is there anyone who doesn’t need to keep learning and improving their communication skills?
If a miscommunication or misunderstanding took place, it is important for the teacher to clear this up with your child not just with you as the parent. You as the parent, your child, and the teacher all need to be on the same page to avoid the he-said-she-said scenario.
Consider this….Is it possible that you as the parent heard the version of what happened that your child wanted you to hear, not really what happened. I’m not saying your child is a liar, but sometimes the whole story isn’t told. That’s why it is so important to stay level headed and hear both sides of the story.
Speak with the Teacher In Person
As much as you possibly can, speak to the teacher in person. Emails and texts are convenient but things can be misconstrued in an email and text because you can’t hear tone of voice and see body language.
Also remember that your child isn’t the only child in the classroom. The teacher has good days and bad days just like students do. Speak with the teacher in a kind, calm, and patient manner so the teacher doesn’t get defensive or try to rationalize their behavior, or blame the student, or refuse to admit any wrongdoing.
Your goal is to resolve the bully suspicion and to keep future dealings with the teacher positive.
Let your child know when you are talking to their teacher. You do not want the teacher to continue to mistreat your child after your parent teacher meeting and your child says, “I didn’t even know you went to talk to them. Now it’s worse.”
GO TO THE VICE PRINCIPAL OR PRINCIPAL
If nothing changes after speaking with the teacher to resolve things, then a guidance counselor, vice-principal or principal should be brought in to help. When that is not effective, contact the Board of Education personnel in charge of such matters.
In the event that your child is experiencing physical abuse by an adult, a teacher, coach, or therapist, this must be taken seriously and make every effort to either end the bullying or remove your child from the situation. Use all of the suggestions I mentioned above. Your child’s safety is number one priority.
BE PROACTIVE BY HELPING THE TEACHER
Begin a great relationship with any of your child’s teachers, coaches, dance instructors as early as you can, at the start of a school year or sports season, by talking to the teacher or coach. Tell them about your child. What he likes. What motivates him? If he is energetic and busy, what helps him to focus and stay engaged? When he struggles in an area, what encourages him and helps him to not give up? Some children are quiet and shy, so what helps them to feel comfortable and willing to open up? If your child talks a lot, what can the teacher say or do so that your child knows when is the right time to talk and when to let the teacher or another classmate talk?
When you give your child’s teacher this information, you take the guesswork out of who your child is and gets them on your side in helping your child to succeed.
Tell the teacher that if they notice something come up in the classroom or on the playground, if there is any reinforcement they need from you at home, to let you know and you’ll talk to your child. Work together as a team to support your child.
Your Child can Help the Teacher, too.
Also talk to your child as to how they can help their teacher. Say something like: “She has a lot of students to look after and to help each day. She gets tired. She has good days and bad days, too.” Ask them, “What can you do to help, Ms. ___ or Mr. ___” “If you notice another child having a hard time, what could you do?” “If you notice Ms. __ drops papers, would you help her pick them up?” “If she looks like she is getting frustrated because no one seems to be listening to her, can you give her a smile to cheer her up because you are listening, right?”
REPLACE NEGATIVE LABELS WITH TRUTH
If your child is experiencing emotional and verbal bullying by a teacher. They feel shame, were put down, or had negative labels spoken over them, I encourage you to take these steps to help them to replace the negative labels with truth.
Ask your child if he feels the label is true. If he says, “Yes, they are true,” help him to work through this. Does he want that label as part of his life or does he want help to replace it with truth and to create better, healthy habits to overcome that label?
If your child believes the label isn’t true, help him formulate a response to people who attempt to label him in the future. What will he choose to think and to say and how will he respond?
Encourage your child to draw a picture of what they like about themselves or tell you about their good qualities. Get them to say their good qualities while they look themselves in the mirror and smile. Write their good qualities on the bathroom mirror. Have them give themselves a high five in the mirror. Get them to list adjectives that describe who they are as a person.
Do all of these activities along with them to encourage them. These ideas will help to build a stronger self-belief.
I encourage you to listen to Episode 55 of the Renewed Mama Podcast called What Do I Say When My Child is Made Fun of?
HAVE YOU HEARD THE FIRST THREE EPISODES IN THIS SERIES ON LABELING CHILDREN?
DO YOU NEED HELP, MAMA?
Mama, I am here for you if you need help breaking off the negative labels spoken over you as a child? You know that they are holding you back, but you can’t change the negative, critical tape that is replaying in your mind no matter how hard you try. If that’s you, then go now to renewedmamacoaching.com. I can help you root out lies from negative labels and help you to replace them with a truth filled identity.
Go to Renewed Mama Coaching and book your first coaching session now. Sometimes, all you need is someone else to talk to. A small mindset shift can unlock a renewed identity for you.