Handling Sticky School Situations

Fears of the Teacher

Q: My son is afraid of his kindergarten teacher. What can I do?

A: We all hope our kindergartner will have a warm, nurturing teacher, but as McEwan points out, "Some people, including elementary school teachers, have a gruff demeanor." Sometimes a child feels scared of a teacher because the teacher is cold, but often it's just because the teacher is strict. In either case, that doesn't mean your child won't learn and thrive with this teacher. McEwan recalls that, when she was a principal, a few parents complained about a first-grade teacher, saying their kids felt the teacher disliked them. "I spoke to the teacher, and she was genuinely shocked," McEwan says. "She just happened to have a gravelly voice and rarely smiled, but, boy, did children learn in her classroom."

So reassure your son that his teacher likes him, and tell the teacher about his fears. Most likely, she'll try harder to bond with him. But if she doesn't and your son starts complaining of stomach pains or declares he never wants to go to school again, then meet with the principal. "Parents have to protect their kids, sometimes even from teachers, and if he is truly miserable, that might mean asking the principal to transfer him," says McEwan.

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