When to tell the teacher and when not to

Starting a new school usually means changes in routines, new friends and teachers. Frankly I dread having to start the whole process again, since we have just changed K from a Kindy to a Childchild in Jul 2012. We are moving (again!) to a new/temporary home, and the poor boy needs to make the adjustments as a result of our nomadic lives.

When K first started out school in his childcare last year, he complained about being bullied in school. My first reaction to that was, “Whose son is so ill behaved? How can he be bullying my son. I have to speak to his teacher!” Until I found out that the bully in school is a girl named M. I probe further and I realized that she has been only pinching him, and when he complains to the teacher, she continues pinching him.

So my response to him was; I am not going to address this with the teacher. He has to learn to stand up for himself, and tell the girl in a loud and firm voice to stop. And if all else fails and a fight breaks out, all the better. Maybe the sting of the bite/scratch/slap might be a painful for that moment, but it will be a good lesson for both kids.

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So I am not the best at managing conflict resolution.

But I have learnt that in certain incidences when it comes to solving problems, a child needs to learn how to manage it himself. I am not going to be everywhere with him 24/7. School is probably one of the best place for a child to experience real life situations to learn how to manage social interactions. A child needs to understand that there will always be some who will not like you very much, and others whom you will find hard to get along with.

It is going to be the same, when he goes to primary/secondary school and eventually when he starts work as an adult. When can we ever choose to work with the people whom we like and we want to work with? Only few are blessed with that.

So for this instance, I kept my mouth shut and did not mention any of this to the teacher. Well, she will just have some explaining to do when he comes home with a black eye, scratch or bite.

I did, however told the teacher when he was back to school with his new glasses to help him ease into the changes and to requested that she shares with his classmates why he had to wear glasses. I figured that this would prevent endless questions from his little friends about why is he wearing glasses and to prevent hurtful statements from some not so polite ones, “I think you look stupid/ugly in spectacles.” We get children like that in schools every once in a while, and you wonder how much time their parent spend time talking to them about not saying such hurtful things. Of course we did rehearse some of the answers to prepare him if he encounter questions like that from other kids.

So how do you determine when you should tell your child’s teacher and when to bite your tongue? This is a valid consideration for most moms especially when you are starting your child in a new school.

I think the more serious the issue, the more the teacher need to be briefed about it. So if it concerns the child safety, learning problems or difficulty or emotional issues, by all means talk to the teacher about it. But if your child is left handled, have certain seating/food preferences, do consider letting your child speak for himself and maybe it could be time for the parent to take a back seat.

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Your child might even respond quite differently in the school environment. For instance, K detests porridge to the core and I can never get him to ever swallow a spoon of it at home. But he has no issue finishing the whole bowl of chicken porridge at lunch in school, as he knows that chicken porridge will be the only selection for the day. He has learnt that he needs to finish the food in school, or go hungry.

Good advice that I have once heard, “It is not a problem, unless you make it into a problem.” Some of us do over-analyze issues, and the micro-manager and control freak mom in us will want everything to fall perfectly in place. But at what expense? Potentially at the expense of not having your child learn how to speak up for himself.

When will you tell the teacher and when will you keep you mouth shut? Do share your experience!



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  1. So glad that I read this just before C is due to start in March!

    Constant battle, I think? As parents, we don’t want to see them hurt, or we may even want to protect them wholeheartedly, because we ARE their parents. When they hurt, we hurt too.

    But true to your words, we have to let them fight their own battles. It won’t do them good in the long run to be constantly mollycoddled, and to think that when all else fails, Mummy will protect me and make it right. Yes we will – but in instances when we have to step in. In other things – they will have to learn to survive.

    The world is cruel, and I think we know the extent of cruelty enough to know what we should do to prepare them for it. Sometimes, we have to be hard in order to let them learn. It pains us, but it will hopefully prevent their pain in the future.
    Regina´s last blog post ..Being a mother isn’t a right, it’s a gift.

    Rachel Reply:

    It is alot easier to let go when the child is able to express himself or herself. When K was C age, I could not leave him at the playground and just watch him from the side, in the fear that some older child might shove or push him unintentionally. I think as moms we know our kids well enough to know when it is time to let go and let them learn to manage themselves in various situations

  2. Thanks for sharing these! My son can’t really speak yet so I do worry that he can’t express himself or cannot tell the teachers or us when he’s bullied or hurt himself. But I figured he has to learn to speak up. I’m with you on this.

    Rachel Reply:

    T just started pre Nursery, so he is still really young to know how to express himself in situations :) In another 2 years or so, i am sure he will be ready to learn to speak up for himself.

  3. Good points! Especially for those parents these days who have much easier accessibility to teachers via their mobile phones and student handbooks.
    Cindy´s last blog post ..Result of Toddibox Giveaway!

    Rachel Reply:

    I guess there needs to be a certain level of communication that is established between the mom and the teachers from school. At the same time, it is important to find out what goes on in school from the child’s perspective.

  4. “So if it concerns the child safety, learning problems or difficulty or emotional issues, by all means talk to the teacher about it.”

    I think this is a very good rule of thumb. Conflict resolution skills start at home. Having siblings is very good for this! I always tell my girls not to come running to me to report that “jiejie/meimei bullied me” – more than half the time, it’s a simple dispute that they can resolve on their own. They’re slowly learning to sort things out themselves without looking to us to mediate. Having said that, it’s also important to keep the communication lines open so that kids feel that they can always turn to us when they have problems, even if they are small ones.
    Jean´s last blog post ..App review: Weatherlah

    Rachel Reply:

    It is alot easier to practice conflict resolution within safe boundaries especially when u have more than one child and their age gap is not too wide. For an only child, school is probably the best place to pick up the skills to manage conflict with peers

  5. I too agree that the kids must learn to fight their own battle and we cannot shelter them 24/7. What is more important is to teach them to identify what is acceptable and non- acceptable behavior and how to react when such thing happen.
    Dominique goh´s last blog post ..10 Ways to improve your Productivity

    Rachel Reply:

    Yes, as parents we need to spend time talking to them, find out what goes on in school not just be focused on their academic development.

  6. When DinoBoy was a toddler, there is this particular girl who likes to bite him. One day he thinks “Enough is enough!!” and sank his 4 front teeth into her back HA! No more biting from the girl and they grow to be good friends during their 6 years in the child care.

    For the primary school & student care, I had a chance to speak to the teachers from both side and I told them to expect some behavior and actions from DinoBoy. So far they were appreciative on my feedback to them and they are better prepared in handling him. No more tantrums from him after the 3 days in school.

    So, to step in or not really depends on situation like what you have said. Fend or defend himself instead of sobbing all the way home to complain to us while licking his wound is not how I want my son to be.
    DinoMama´s last blog post ..I don’t want him to grow up!

    Rachel Reply:

    It really depends on the comfort level for the parents. Parents are generally protective, so really, like u said, it depends on the severity of the situation and how verbal and communicative the child is.

  7. hi Rachel,

    I will let the kids pitch their own battle. Draw the line when someone draws blood/bruise.

    I have seen bullies in school who bite all her school mates, and teacher can only apologise on behalf. This is extreme case.

    When parents intervene, kids lose an opportunity to learn and fend for themselves.

    cheers, Andy (SengkangBabies)
    SengkangBabies´s last blog post ..What if the man becomes a Stay-At-Home-Dad?

    Rachel Reply:

    Indeed Andy!

  8. Perhaps it’s cos my girl is a tiger and I know with some certainty that she won’t lose in a fight, I’m more chillax about it. More often than not, I intervene only when i think she is the bully!
    Madeline´s last blog post ..Transitioning to Schooling Independence

    Rachel Reply:

    J is so chatty for her age, will definitely have no issues learning how to manage conflicts in school by herself.

  9. I am all for the kids to fend for themselves. I am glad that malcolm has grown to be pretty good at it though he had gone through quite a bit to finally learn his way. Now I am going through the same thing with my younger one. It can be tough for the kids and very challenging for the parents. Every incident is an opportunity to teach the kids something. About dealing with people and perhaps even about why some kids choose to bully.
    haifang´s last blog post ..Dear Mr Peter Jackson

    Rachel Reply:

    I agree, problems are the perfect time children can learn.

  10. In Sophie’s CC, we’ll communicate via the comm book if we don’t a chance to speak to the teachers. But these days, I’ll get her to relay messages herself and teach her independence. Unfortunately these days, she’s the one getting complains from the teachers for bad behavior so I do hope that she knows shes in the wrong and not be the one complained.
    Susan´s last blog post ..Motivational Mondays- You must be insane

    Rachel Reply:

    Most children are very expressive when it comes to incidents that happen in school. Spending the time probing about the situation might be a good way to find out the root of her behavior, sometimes it may not be her fault and it can be a peer who is the aggressor who fuels her behavior

  11. Rach, I admire your determination and discernment in letting K learn to fend for himself. As a Mom, I tend to over-react (and over-protect). I must learn from you and other Moms to chill and let the kids resolve the ‘fights’ themselves. After all, conflict management, communication skills and managing diversity (in opinions, in choice of friends, in agreeing to disagree) are essential life skills which they need to possess in future.
    Angie´s last blog post ..Start the year with 100 Acts of Kindness!

    Rachel Reply:

    I think that conflict resolution is best learnt from real life experiences. Only when mistakes are made, tears are shed than kids really learn from the experience. Slowly let go as Dana grows older, u will find that she will be able to manage alot more than what u expect.

  12. Hi there! Interesting read!

    I was very concerned myself when my 2 year old continually says that he doesn’t like school and came back with a cut ear, nasty rashes and bumps.

    We suspected he’s being bullied, and considering he is just learning to speak, we were almost going to give up on playgroup.

    Reading your post reinforces our belief that we need to let our kids toughen up andnot fight their battles. A school offers the best place to do that, cuts, rashs and bumps notwithstanding! :)
    Daddy Darren´s last blog post ..Happy 2nd Birthday Aiden!