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Q&A: My Son's Teacher Is Picking On Him

Q. My tween told me his teacher is picking on him. How do I find out what's really happening?

A. In my experience, being picked on is either the teacher demanding quality work or ridiculing your child. If it's about the work, your child needs to deal. If it's about the way he's being treated, you need to address it. But remember, sometimes teachers have a bad day or say things that are misinterpreted. Ask your child to describe exactly what the teacher does that makes him feel bad and list the three most important things he wants his teacher to know. Then set up a time to meet with the teacher. Depending on your child's maturity, he can go alone or with you. In that meeting have him present the three points he thought of earlier. If the teacher listens to your concerns and promises to address them, you can be fairly confident the problem is resolved. If the teacher is dismissive or defensive, say: "It feels like you don't want to solve this problem. I'd hope and expect that what I've described stops. If it doesn't, you're giving me no choice but to ask a school administrator to get involved. But I hope it doesn't come to that. Thank you for your time." Your child needs to see that you know when and how to advocate calmly for him.

Originally published in the April 2013 issue of Family Circle magazine.