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Tell her to take a deep breath, try to relax and wait to assess the teacher in action once school begins. Remind her that those who say the teacher is "mean" may have an ax to grind. Third-grade vocabularies also aren't fully developed. "Mean" may really mean "firm and fair" or "no-nonsense" or even "shy." Encourage your daughter to give the teacher a chance. Who knows? This teacher may end up being her favorite ever.
— Bill Daley
I would tell my daughter that sometimes people, even grown-ups, are misunderstood and that perhaps she could be patient with the teacher and give her a chance. "Would you want the teacher to have preconceived ideas about you? Of course not! So try to keep an open mind. I bet the teacher will appreciate your open attitude!" Then I would check in, and if it seems like the "rumors" are valid, I would get to the bottom of them by requesting a conference to have a full understanding of what is expected of each student for a successful, happy year.
"View this as an opportunity for your daughter to grow," says family therapist Fran Walfish, author of "The Self-Aware Parent: Resolving Conflict and Building a Better Bond With Your Child" (Palgrave Macmillan). "By third grade, kids are just old enough to manage having to maneuver with someone who is not their favorite person. Here's a chance to equip her with a few strategies."
Start by explaining in a patient, secure tone the importance of giving the new teacher a chance.
"Is she mean because when she's angry she yells at the kids?" Walfish asks. "Or is she mean because she gives a lot of homework or doesn't take excuses? Help your daughter take some time to familiarize herself with the teacher and decide for herself whether she likes her or not."
You may tell your daughter something along these lines: "You don't have to go with the flow of the masses and the majority of kids' opinions," Walfish says. "You may end up liking the teacher, so you want to leave some room for your own opinion."
Next, tell your daughter that spending time with a teacher she doesn't especially like can be good training for the future.
"This is a chance to practice what it's going to be like in middle school and high school and college when we have lots of teachers and we don't get a chance to choose them," Walfish suggests. "We have to learn to negotiate and work things out with the teachers we're assigned."
Finally, let her know that you always want to know if she has a real conflict with this teacher — throughout the year.
"You can say, 'If your teacher does anything that you think is wrong or hurtful or bad, come talk to me about it and we'll figure out how to make it right between you and your teacher,'" Walfish says.
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