In private schools, the above interaction can be very anxiety producing for a teacher if the above parents are major donors. Consider the scenario if a teacher isn't highly confident about her relationship with the principal. Do the donors take priority over the teachers from the administrators' point of view?
There are several points of view in this scenario. On the surface, the above picture on the left is HEALTHY and the picture on right is UNHEALTHY. The picture on the left has parents supporting the teacher. The picture on the right has parents undermining the teacher and not holding the boy accountable. The best way to challenge a child is to expect him/her to take responsibility for their effort, self-discipline, and pursuit of excellence!
If we go a little deeper into what this child needs, the above picture of the boy on the left looks like a kid in despair. Research has shown that self-esteem gets a boost from achievement as opposed to an emphasis on feelings. Those of us who are empaths on the outside of this family might feel bad for the child on the left; yet, there is no doubt that what this child needs is to be held accountable. He doesn't need sympathy, comfort food and video games ("Oh, I'm so sorry Johnny."). No, he needs to be held accountable. While we do live in a culture that over-emphasizes grades over learning. Sometimes it seems we live in a testing culture that includes teachers teaching to tests. At the same time, measurable achievements help kids. Identifying markers of achievement does more for self-esteem then an inward focus on feelings. The best way for parents to help this child out of this problematic situation is one small step at a time, identifying markers of achievement, committing to a study and homework schedule, and pursuing small and measurable goals to turn this situation around. This is one of the things that most energizes teachers. If parents are on board, teachers love to help kids rebound from a difficult situation and reverse their progress trajectory.
If you take a look at the picture on the right, the parents' anger looks even more intense. This is seen in academics, sports, and various other areas. Sports psychologists note that parents' anger intensifies when their child is not being played 'as they should.' "How can they do that to my son?" [see John Tauer, Ph.D.'s book, Why Less is More for WOSPs (Well-Intentioned, Overinvolved Sports Parents): How to Be the Best Sports Parent You Can Be]. This can be difficult for youth sports coaches.
For a teacher, however, it can be very difficult as they have dedicated their careers and lives to the education of children. The very criticism that they are receiving is cutting to the very destiny and purpose of their lives. Research completed by psychology professors shows significant teacher abuse from parents (Ravalier & Walsh, 2018). In a review of 9,700 primary and secondary teachers, 28.1% of teachers experienced abuse and negative behavior from parents on school premises at least once a month. This includes online messaging to confrontation on school premises. 18.2% of secondary teachers were exposed to similar unhealthy behaviors.
Unfortunately, the picture on the right occurs far too often. Future teachers now get trained on how to deal with unruly parents. Teachers need support from their administration in their jobs. They also need to be equipped in their college education programs with the skills to respond and address parents. From a parenting perspective, I thought it would be helpful to end this article with some things that we can do as parents. This, by no means, is an exhaustive list. This is just a start. Teachers can answer this question much better than I can.
What can we do as parents to support our teachers?
1) Take time to ask teachers if there is anything you as the parent can do to help.
2) Practice joining behaviors. Join your child's teacher by reminding him / her that you appreciate how she is focusing on this specific area.
3) Ask questions first. Don't accuse, intimidate, or question the teachers' motives. Like in all of our relationships, it is often better to take time to reflect before reacting. Sleeping on it very often broadens your perspective.
4) Assume the best in your child's teacher. Keep in mind that we have the same goals.
5) Ignore the small stuff like teachers' favorites, attention, gossip, and other stuff that means nothing. Focus on the big stuff like GRATITUDE, LOVE OF LEARNING, and STRENGTHS LIKE GRIT AND COURAGE!