Teacher-Tween Conflict

by Julie Reece-DeMarco

One day, my daughter came home from middle school in tears. But this time it wasn't "friendship drama" or a failed test — it was a teacher who had brought on the tears. "You know what to do," I gently counseled.

My daughter went to her computer. "Dear Ms. Smith," she began typing. The letter would never be delivered, but writing it allowed her to express her opinions and concerns. When she finished the letter, she read it aloud to herself and then set it aside for a day.

My kids have written many such letters. After a day has passed, they get to correct the letter, removing things that are exaggerated, untrue, overly emotional or not constructive. Together we determine if there is any benefit in approaching the teacher — or coach, youth group leader, etc. — over concerns that remain. In some cases, a day's time has resolved many of the issues. On other occasions, we have role-played the polite but persuasive conversation they need to have with the other person. If my kids choose to address an issue with an authority figure, they have carefully thought through the matter, moderated emotion and practiced how to clearly present their position. In most cases, the adults involved have appreciated this approach and have been willing to reconsider their own practices.


This article appeared in the August/September 2014 issue of Thriving Family magazine. Copyright © 2014 by Julie Reece-Demarco. Used by permission. ThrivingFamily.com.


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