- Debunking the “Scary Teacher” Myth (Or How to Prove if Your Kid’s Teacher is a Psycho!)
When I was in first grade, I would get sick to my stomach every single morning before school. Physically sick. After weeks of this, my mom finally took me to a doctor who eventually declared there was nothing wrong with me. I was flabbergasted. Utterly flabbergasted. I had been convinced there was, indeed, something very wrong with me. Something terribly, horribly wrong.
As it turns out, the only thing wrong was my teacher. A really, really mean and scary teacher. Or at least that’s how I felt; after all, she’s the one who made me walk up and down the halls wearing a sandwich board emblazoned with the words, “I talk too much.”
Teacher horror stories like this are not limited to the ‘60s when I was in grade school. They still continue today – with your own kids. Gossip, exaggerations and intimidation tactics by other kids all contribute to your kids hearing all sorts of tall-tales about their teachers — and becoming scared, fearful and stressed. Then again, some of these stories may very well have a hint of truth to them.
So, how do you relieve school anxiety for your children? Try some of these suggestions:
- Listen and believe. Really take the time to listen to your child’s concerns/complaints/fears and believe they are real to your child. If you just take the easy road and say, “Don’t worry, it’ll be ok,” you’re going to pretty much shut off any further communication about this issue — which is the last thing you want to do.
- Get the details. It’s often difficult for young children to focus on the details, but it’s important. Ask for specific examples. If your child says the teacher is mean, ask exactly what the teacher said or did. If she was just trying to get your child to sit still, you can suddenly get a better perspective of how your child views the situation.
- Be proactive. Make sure your child knows you take their feelings seriously. Tell them you will keep a journal of all their comments. Conduct some role-playing exercises where you play the part of your child and display some proper coping techniques. If all else fails, set up a meeting with the teacher to discuss the situation.
- Know when to step back. Obviously, you won’t always be able to fix all of your child’s problems. But remember:you know your child best. If you’ve determined that the teacher is, in fact, acting justly and appropriately, then it’s best to simply help your child deal with it. Not everything in life is fair.
- Know when to step in. Then again, if there is something truly and destructively wrong with your child’s teacher relationship, it’s up to you — as the parent — to do something about it. Talk to the principal and discuss alternative solutions.
Although it’s not always necessary to step in to your kids’ school life it’s good to know what to do in the event you have to. And let me just say that if my grandchildren ever complain that their teacher thinks they talk too much, you can be sure I’ll be asking if they too had to endure sandwich board-style punishment.
Suggested books about scary teachers:
Miss Nelson is Missing! by Harry Allard
The Teacher from the Black Lagoon by Mike Thaler
Miss Mary is Scary! by Dan Gutman
My Teacher Ate My Homework by Dan Greenburg
I Know an Old Teacher by Anne Bowen