Parenting Without Power Struggles

Raising joyful, resilient kids while staying calm and connected

Helping Your Child Adjust to a New Teacher

Getting along with a new teacher helps children do their best in school.

Some children naturally embrace change, eagerly weaving new people into their lives. But many kids form attachments slowly and cautiously, making the challenge of bonding with a new teacher an additional stressor when the school year begins.

Every teacher has a unique teaching style, personality and classroom rules, requiring time and effort for children to figure out how to sync up and feel at ease in their classroom. For many kids, the process generates a great deal of anxiety.

Here are a few tips that will help your child adjust to a new teacher:

• Help your child become more comfortable with the teacher, outside of class time. Offer to help the teacher before or after school with your child in tow so there's a chance for conversation without the distraction of other children.

• Create a list of "My Favorite Things" for your child and his teacher to complete. It might include things like, "Favorite movie," "Best dessert in the world," and "Coolest birthday ever." This will allow your child and his teacher to discover shared interests, an important step in forging genuine attachment.

• Conspire with your child's teacher so your son or daughter "accidentally" hears him/her (the teacher) gossiping about your child in a good way. When a child believes the teacher likes who they are as a person (often made more believable when it's overheard), it fosters an authentic sense of connection.

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• At the end of each school day, ask your child what went well. While it's important to let your child vent about difficult moments, don't interview them for what went wrong. Instead, help them start emphasizing the good things that they might otherwise overlook, like a moment when the teacher smiled at their joke, or the friendly way she greeted him/her at the start of the day. It's easy to ignore evidence of the ways a teacher does demonstrate their affection for a child if he or she believes the teacher's mean, scary or "hates me!"

Your children are going to have to learn to get along with all kinds of people in life. By helping them adjust to this year's new teacher, you'll be equipping them with important skills that will serve them throughout their lives.

Susan Stiffelman is a family therapist and the author of Parenting Without Power Struggles: Raising Joyful, Resilient Kids While Staying Cool, Calm and Connected

 

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