Primary School Issues

What to do if your Child is Afraid of the Teacher



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Some children have probably been afraid of their teachers since the first educator stood up in front of a group of pupils.  This is not to minimize the trauma that some students can feel each time that they walk into the classroom or the dread that they might experience at the prospect of the teacher calling on them to give an answer.  Rather, it emphasizes the fact that for some people, fear of authority figures is somewhat normal.  There are those that are afraid of police or government officials.  Other people are afraid of their supervisors at work.  Some children grow out of their fear, while other situations must be addressed.  With that in mind, here are a few thoughts on what to do if a child is afraid of a teacher. 

Identification

The first step in dealing with fear of a teacher is to identify why the fear exists.  Granted, this may be easier said than done, particularly since some children may not come and state that they are afraid.  There are times when parents and guardians must read the “signs” and figure out that something is amiss.  If a child does admit to being afraid or a parent suspects there is fear, they should go through a process of discovery.  This may include various questions, which should be presented in a loving and supportive manner.  The parent should convey to the child that it is not necessarily their fault that they have anxiety.  What people have to keep in mind is that discovering the reason for the fear may be a process that takes some time. 

Meetings and contacts

There may be times when it is appropriate to schedule a meeting with a teacher or administrator to talk about the child’s fear.  Granted, this should be done delicately as the parent does not want to embarrass the child or make them feel like they are being punished.  This may add to the anxiety.  Sometimes a discreet call or email to the teacher may be a good course of action.  Of course, parents have to do their best to be objective.  There are situations when the child is afraid because they are not doing their work or are acting out in class.  A parent should hear their student out, but there is also the issue of parental accountability. 

Getting through

In general, some anxiety simple has to be survived, as some children may simply have a hard time getting along with particular teachers.  Talking through feelings and contemplating interventions may be appropriate sometimes, but other situations may best be handled by letting the year play out.  There are times when fear cannot be rationalized away and when taking action may actually make the situation worse. 

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