5 Tips to Improve Student-Teacher Relationships

Some student-teacher relationships aren't a positive match, which can be stressful for everyone involved: parents, student, and teacher. Here are 5 tips for handling these tricky relationships so that your child can still enjoy school.

Cheryl Butler
8-minute read
Episode #449

Tip #4: Equip Them With Tools To Cope

Our kids are not always going to be placed with teachers or peers that like them. We can’t necessarily change other people’s behaviors, but we can control how we react. Whether it be a situation where he and his teacher just don’t mesh or she can’t seem to win with her boss at her new part-time job, when we have coping mechanisms to rely on, it can make a world of difference in our kids' attitude about the situation.

I read a wonderful book several years ago called Dealing with Disappointment: Helping Kids Cope When Things Don’t Go Their Way by Elizabeth Crary. She recommends that children have one self-calming technique to help deal with disappointment for every year of their age, up to age 12. Crary describes six general categories of self-calming tools. They include: physical, auditory/verbal, visual, creative, self-calming, and humor. Here are a few examples of each self-calming category:


  • Large movements: Examples are running, dancing, jumping, hiking, anything to get their energy out.
  • Breathe in calmness: Teach your children to take a big breath and then blow out the birthday candles, or blow a feather across a table.


  • Talk to someone: Kids need to be heard before they can problem solve. Just listen, uninterrupted and without trying to fix things.
  • Positive self-talk: Model this for kids, showing them how even when you’re angry, you can productively problem solve.   For example, if you didn’t get the job you applied for, you could say, “I’m sorry that job didn’t work out for me, but I’m sure there is an even better opportunity waiting.”
  • Listen to music: Learn what kind of music your child responds to when happy or when angry. In our house, we always have fun, upbeat music playing in the morning before everyone heads out to school or work. It helps lighten the mood tremendously.


  • Read a book: This helps give a child focus, calming them. Offering to read a story is a great calming technique.
  • Look outside: Looking outside is helpful in detaching from the feelings of disappointment. I like to play “I Spy” with my kids.

When getting information from the teacher start a lot of your sentences with the same four words: "What can I do?"


  • Draw a picture: Have your child draw his feelings. This is particularly good for younger kids.
  • Make something: Make brownies, sculpt something out of clay, make a building out of blocks, etc. This helps release restless energy.


  • Get a hug: Physical touch is comforting. Learning to ask for a hug when it’s needed is a great coping skill.
  • Drink from a water bottle: Make the water “magic calming juice.”  This works particularly well for younger kids.
  • Take a warm bath: A bath is a great way to help wash away bad or irritating feelings.


  • Read humor books: Laughter can change body chemistry and help us let go of lingering negativity.
  • Watch funny videos: Invite your child to watch a funny movie with you. Ask how he or she feels after.
  • Find humor in the situation: This helps teach your child to look at things from a different angle. Let kids see you laugh at yourself.

Tip #5: Time For A Change

If you’ve tried to work with the teacher but feel she isn’t able to make it work with your child, it may be necessary to take it to the next level and meet with the school principal. Sometimes administration will offer extra support or will have some good ideas for resolving the problem without changing the child’s classroom. In that case, give it an honest try.

But sometimes a student and teacher just can’t get beyond the personality conflict or your student simply can’t adapt to his teacher’s learning style and it’s evident that the school year is going to be a complete bust. In such cases, the wisest decision is to talk to the principal about moving the child out of the class.

If you do decide to transfer your child to another class, as I did for my daughter several years ago, take care how you present the decision to her. Don’t present the changing of classrooms to your child in a negative manner. Instead emphasize the positive aspects of the move. Praise the school for helping your child find the right match and let her know you expect her to work to her full potential in her new classroom. Reinforce all the positive aspects about the school, the subjects she’ll be learning, any extra-curricular activities that she’ll get to participate in, and just how lucky she is to have the opportunity to be in school and learn so many new and exciting things.

How have you handled a difficult teacher relationship? Share your thoughts in the comments section at quickanddirtytips.com/mighty-mommy, post your ideas on the Mighty Mommy Facebook page. or email me at mommy@quickanddirtytips.com. Visit my family-friendly boards at Pinterest.com/MightyMommyQDT

Image © Shutterstock


About the Author

Cheryl Butler

Cheryl L. Butler is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. Call the Mighty Mommy listener line at 401-284-7575 to ask a parenting question. Your call could be featured on the show!

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