When Teens and Their Teachers Don’t Get Along

Dealing with difficult personalities is a skill that everyone must cultivate to be successful in this life. Not everyone gets along. Different personalities clash. But when a child isn’t getting along with a teacher, it becomes an emotional roller coaster. Although it can be heartbreaking to watch a child deal with these hard issues, think of them as life lessons. All lessons are learned with practice, so this is their first rehearsal for the wider world!

CB037609One of the great life lessons that any adult can learn is this: You cannot control anyone else; you can only control yourself. Think how valuable it would be for teenagers to learn this early – they would be more successful earlier than most adults! So the message to a teen in this situation is that you cannot change the teacher (whether the teacher is in the right or the wrong). You can only change how YOU deal with the teacher. Brainstorm a list of things that he or she could do to improve the relationship with their teacher. Keep them focused on the goal – a good grade – instead of other issues such as who is liked best by the teacher.

Life can be unfair. A teacher may be harder on one student than another. They may decide to grade a homework paper that was just supposed to be for practice. Teens should have a caring adult with whom they can express their frustration over the perceived injustice. Ideally this adult can listen closely and even sympathize with them, but then that adult should teach them resilience by encouraging them to let the frustration go and find something more positive to talk about or do.

Parents often want to jump in and try to “save” their children from struggles, but they are only robbing them of an important life lesson they need to succeed as adults. The goal of parenting is to create responsible adults.

“Don’t handicap your children by making their lives easy.”  ~Robert A. Heinlein

“Too often we give children answers to remember rather than problems to solve.”  ~Roger Lewin

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