18 answers

How to Handle Rude Teacher?

Yesterday my daughter came home crying about how her teacher had spoken to her. I am not happy but I don't want to make waves and make matters worse. The teacher was doing desk inspections and gave awards the neatest children who had the neatest desk. (7 out of 19). When the teacher came over to my daughter's desk s she said to her "your not getting an award with a desk like that". My daughter told me her teacher hurt her feelings and that she had not said anything at all to any of the other children.
This is not the first time her teacher has been nasty and used a derogatory tone.
I want to address it with her but like I said I don't want to make matters worse for my girl. What would you do?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Well, I did address my daughter's teacher. She was actually very glad I came to her. She said she'd much rather have me come to her than harbor ill feeling and hate her. It went much better that I had thought it would. These situations are alway difficult and uncomfortable for me. She seen genuinely sorry that my daughter had been upset. She did say that she expects more of certain student and tries to push them for more. My girl is very bright academically. She didn't realize she was so sensitive. She put up a good front of not letting people know they've hurt her feelings. I told her my daughter feels she can't go to her and she felt poorly about that too. I talk to my girl and let her know that her teacher and I had talked and that I don't think something like this is going to happen again. Thanks to all of you who took the time to reply.

Featured Answers

The teacher was not being rude. Too many times , what a teacher says is taken out of context. You're making a mountain out of a mole hill. She was stating a fact, it's not at all nasty or derogatory.

1 mom found this helpful

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I am the mother of two boys ages 11 and 16 and I work teaching music to 350 kids in various pre-schools. I have found that when my kids felt "attacked" or upset with a teacher that the best way to approach the teacher was as an ally. I would describe the way my child was feeling in certain situations without any blame to the teacher and if she/he took it defensively I would emphasize how I am seeking their help because I know they are an experienced teacher who just may not have the information of how my child is reacting to their disciplining (or whatever else) style. For instance, I told one teacher (when my son was getting upset after two months of feeling wrongly criticized in third grade) about how my son was waking up feeling he didn't want to go to school and I described his response as HIS PROBLEM not HERS. I asked for her help in figuring out what style might work better for HIM -- I found out from a friend that her son thrived on this same critical style. I let her know what worked for my son at home -- always accompanying setting limits with a positive message like "I know you are so capable of this (name the positive behavior) and I look forward to seeing it next time." My son happens to be sensitive to people's tone and defensive and he needs to hear plenty of positive. The teacher wasn't necessarily wrong but her approach wasn't working for him at this time and he was having negative reactions. When I let her know what he was feeling and what might help, she made the changes and within two days he was feeling better and this continued.
Another important point is that we cannot protect our children from frustration and sadness and instead they will benefit from our supporting them learning that they will get through it when their feelings are hurt. We will help them far more by supporting their learning how to cope and be resilient than by fixing. So in the long run, this is important to keep in mind. A great book about this is "Blessings of a Skinned Knee" by Wendy Mogel.
Hope something in this helps. Best of everything to you and your daughter.

3 moms found this helpful

Your daughter needs to respect her teacher. Period. If she asks her to clean her desk, she should clean her desk. Period.
A child's perspective isn't always fact.

You need to talk to your daughter about how she needs to listen to her teacher and do what she says. If she does as she is asked she will be praised.

I don't want my daughter's feelings hurt either so I teach her to be respectful of her peers and most importantly her elders, especially teachers. Do unto others...


1 mom found this helpful

The teacher was not being rude. Too many times , what a teacher says is taken out of context. You're making a mountain out of a mole hill. She was stating a fact, it's not at all nasty or derogatory.

1 mom found this helpful

if i was in your place, i would go straight down to the school. talk to the teacher 1st, tell her that your daughter had been crying when she came home after the desk inspection, and would like to know exactly what happened so that maybe you, your daughter, and even the teacher could do something to not have it happen again. make it seem like you're on her side 1st. if she happens to have a negative attitude about it, like saying "well, her desk was a mess and i told her..." and it sounds like your daughter told you what actually happened, and wasn't just a little too sensitive over it, then i would personally tell her off and then go straight to the principal...but someone with a much cooler head (which sounds to be you) should tell her how you feel about that, and then if she doesn't seem to care that she made her cry, and doesn't seem to care to change anything...then go straight to the principal. best of luck with this one. i'm dreading the school years. i grew up with a mother that had no problem telling my teachers off when they did something wrong, or allowed other kids to do things against me...but was also very nice with MOST of my teachers...i just don't know how well being like that will go over for my daughter when the time comes (and i don't know if i could keep my cool when an adult makes my daughter cry for no reason, even with something as silly as cleaning up a desk...just no reason for some teacher to be like that in my book). good luck!

I agree with Michelle.. We need to advocate for our kids.

Just because a teacher has a certain "style" doesn't mean that the style is right for our kid. In 4th grade my DD had a teacher that was rude to her (and other kids) I spoke to her and told her that my DD was sensitive to her comments, and perhaps there was a misunderstanding. The teacher said it was not a misunderstanding, and that this was her style. She said that she didn't believe in "coddling" children, and that if she doesn't tell me how to treat my child in my home, please don't tell her how to treat my child in her classroom.

I went to the principal immediately and explained the situation. I told him that I could not and WOULD not speak to that teacher ever again. I had my child transferred out of the class to a more nurturing environment. (Even though at first my DD cried and complained about me making things "worse") she loved her new teacher.

That abusive teacher was fired at the end of the year (because I wasn't the only one complaining about her).

Hi Deborah,
I think that if you pride yourself on good manner and courtesy at home - some rudeness outside of the home from others can actually be put to good use. Let your child "problem solve" with you.. What else could teacher have said? Nicer ways? Worse ways? How do these make you feel? Do you see why we try to have polite and good manners in our home? One way you will be able to help your child is to let her know that there are rude people in the world. It is not her fault. It is the other person's personality. No one of us can control that. All we can do is to try our best to be a counter balance. She can also learn to politely let her teacher - know herself- from her own mouth, that, yes, my desk is not very neat today, thank you for the reminder, I will try and get it in shape soon. Good luck.

Deborah, Let me tell ya when we lived in Elmira which was not to long ago moved nov 1 to NC. But I hated the Elmira school system because of the way some of their teachers were towards the kids. Its one thing to award them differently but to be rude. I had so many problems at Riverside Elementary was not funny. First, my daughter learned the middle finger because the sub was teach Mr. Thumpkin and used middle finger last.. which was upsetting.. Two the lice control is overwhelming in that school. My family has NEVER had it. My daughter came home with it, come to find out their coats are all hung together, and layed on top of one another in the cafeterias when I spoke with the principal their was nothing they could do. I said that because my daughter had it i believe other parents should be aware and check their childrens heads too. She tried telling me that my daughter got it elsewhere. Thats a bunch of bull.... I am a stay at home mother when Im not around her she was with her dad still at our house. Never spent nights at friends she was in kindergarten at the time. Principal also said that they can not inform the parents due to privacy of the child. If I am the mother telling you to do so then its ok right? she says no! So anyways I even spoke to the principal about the middle finger thing and she told me that my daughter was learning that elsewhere too. So i guess im just giving you an example on how some things are Handled at the schools. So just be carefull may get messy... and if you do mention something about it honestly I would, and if they retaliate it against your daughter that is WRONG! She is just a child. My daughter is now 8. You can also go to the board of education if need be. Always got higher people.

Good Luck!

How do you know that nothing was said to other children? It could have been an innocent comment made to your daughter, along with the other children at their desks.

If my son or daughter came home and told me what your child told you, I would tell them the teacher was right. You WON'T get an award if your desk is not up to par. Period.

It is one thing if the teacher stood in front of the classroom and ticked off the names of those who got the award, and then continued to say the names of those who didn't get the award. your child's teacher probably just said...
"you won't be able to get an award with your desk that way"

It isn't a hurtful remark, it is a fact. It probably wasn't said to hurt your child at all.

JMO though.

Although, my original thought was ( I admit it...I am a b*tch)....

"get some thicker skin and suck it up."

Hi. You need to talk to your daughter's teacher as soon as possible. I strongly disagree that by trying to know the reasoning of the teacher's behaviour you will make the matters worse for your girl. Atleast this kind of strange behaviour must be brought to the notice of the higher authorities of the school. But before that, u need to know whether that particular teacher is behaving in the same fashions with others also or its your girl that is being victimised !
Take action on time.

Your responsiblity is to your daughter (not that you don't already know that). But, if someone is hurting her - then you need to be her 'buffer'. In a mature manner , I would ask the teacher what her side of what happened was and then tell her that she hurt your daughter's feelings - whether or not it was intentionally done.

The teacher should be mature enough NOT to make any more trouble for your daughter for it. AFTER ALL ... THEY ARE WORKING FOR US!! We entrust the school system (all of those involved) to teach our children and NOT to be so derogatory towards them.

I would NOT let anyone - TEACHER OR OTHERWISE - do such a thing to my child(ren). I would hear both sides - but also bring up how my child felt because of their actions.

On the other hand, PERHAPS your daughter misunderstood what was said...EITHER WAY - I hope the teacher would be considerate enough to apologize - no matter if your daughter misunderstood or not.

Hope this helps... good luck :)

Sounds like you are over reacting. I don't the teacher said anything wrong, even if she didn't say anything to the other kids. Maybe your daughter doesn't like her teacher and is twisting the story. Tell her too keep her desk clean and get a sticker. If she insists that her teacher is mean to her, then maybe have a parent teacher meeting and hear the teachers side.

my advice: always be on the side of the teacher until proven guilty WHILE still empathizing and supporting/advocating for your child. but don't make it okay for her not to keep her desk clean (or whatever else is asked of her) talk to the teacher and find out her side of things. if you always side with your daughter, she may get the picture that she doesn't have to do the things her teacher is asking her JUST because of the tone of voice (which may not be exactly as your child describes in reality... it may be her way of getting you to side with her and against the teacher). so basically TALK to the teacher and find out what really happened. if you think there really is a problem with how she speaks to the children... maybe check around with some other parents to see if they've had a problem, and if it doesn't change, talk to the principal or whoever her supervisor is.


If you really feel that something needs to be said about this, then you need to speak to the principal. And remember. They work for you. You pay their pay check. (ie taxes.) I know from past experiences that children hear what they want. She may have said it one way but what your daughter heard was something else.

I have a problem with shame used as a motivator for positive behavior. Before having children, I was a preschool teacher and also did teacher trainings. Teachers do not always understand how to positively motivate children- they rely on punishment, shame and group pressure. They were probably treated the same and for some unknown reason have forgotten how it made them feel as children. You have some choices as to how you would like to handle this situation. I do think it's smart to try to get a better understanding of the whole interaction. You could explain to your child that the teacher is not very good at asking people to do their jobs and that she thinks she needs to have contests to motivate kids. She also is not very good at using her words in a nice way. Even though that might be true, your daughter still needs to treat her teacher with respect and ignore the poor treatment. Your daughter will meet people like this throughout her life and it's not a bad idea to teach her that sometimes, even though she is a kid, she is going to have to act bigger than adults.
In one of the workshops I did with teachers, for the first five minutes or so I treated the teachers the way they often treated children- patronizing and disrespectful. I would tell them to re arrange the chairs in a circle, then say things like "I really like they way X" is moving her chair"..."Can you move your chair like X is?" If teachers started talking while I spoke, I would give them the old "What are you doing?...What are you supposed to be doing?" Sometimes if the opportunity arose, I'd put someone in a timeout without explanation. It primed them for understanding how the way they treated kids felt.

If you really want to address it with the teacher, understand that she doesn't think that her style is wrong but she doesn't know any better. She needs to remember how it feels to be treated that way- point out her desk, or closet and ask her how she would feel if you, or the principal, came in and criticized her. The golden rule applies: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Ultimately, you do have to support your daughter and help her learn how to navigate different personalities.

I always love these questions, and I have the BEST advice. Go for it! Tell the principal, not the teacher that your daughters teacher has been using negativity and hurtful words toward your daughter. Tell the principal you insist that council this teacher on ways to use positive reenforcement etc...
Story: I am one of the known "red flag" mom's at my son's daycare. Let me tell you that I am not phased in the LEAST by the fact I have heard from some other moms that I am considered a BITC**. The reason is that no matter what issue I had with the condition and daily repot I got about my boy, if I had a problem I went to the administrator. And guess what happened... MY SON IS THE CLEANES, MOST WATCHED OVER, LEAST LIKELY TO HAVE AN ACCIDENT KID IN THERE. So it is worth it.
Do it for your daughter, teachers come and go.

I was a teacher full-time before having my son, and I understand your frustration. Please realize though that you are getting the story second-hand and your daughter is 7. It's very likely that she will spin the stories to get the most amount of sympathy from you. It's possible that the teacher told her that she doesn't get a sticker today but maybe next time. Please call the teacher or meet with her to discuss your concern. If the teacher is rude to you or takes a nasty tone, THEN you can get upset. If you do nothing and just hold your feelings in, then they will continue to build the more your daughter comes home with these stories. Nip it in the bud now and contact the teacher. It's likely it can be resolved over the phone.

I completely understand not wanting to rock the boat, but you also have to make things for your daughter at school less uncomfortable. Your daughter is in school for most of her day and it is unfair for her to be intimidated by her teacher. This will inhiibit her learning because she will not want to be there.

Address the situation to the teacher at your parent/teacher conference or just call her up and express your concerns. If this does not resolve, request a meeting with the principal and the teacher.

Hopes this work.

I thought about not responding because everyone has given you great advice. But then I read the last one and thought that I should and this is why.
If you allow you daughters teacher to talk to her like that, she may go through life thinking that anyone can talk to her like that as long as they have some authority over her. Now what is more important. Ruffling a few feathers or teaching your daughter that people are not allowed to talk to you like that.
Its not about being gentle and all that other stuff the person before me said. Its about showing your daughter that you are there for her and that you will not tolerate people speaking to her or you in a way that is hurtful.
Because she is young and should respect her elders then you will have to show her what to do.
Yes its true that she shouldn't have a messy desk but not getting the award in the insintive enough to do better. Those words were to hurt her not help her.
So if this was a job and she didn't hand in her work in a tighty way and she didn't get a promotion. That fine. But if the boss came up to he and said "your to stupid to even know what your doing wrong so why even tell you" Thats wrong. Get what I'm saying. That extra stuff is not needed.

Don't worry about ruffling the teachers feathers because if you let her get away with it she will do it again and it will be worst. My mother always says, nip it in the bud!!! Stop it before it gets out of hand.

Believe me if you bring it to her attention then she won't do it again.

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