This brochure is one in a series of
efforts to strengthen the working relationship between the Bethel
Public Schools and the families it serves. We all want students
to enjoy school and to experience an uninterrupted spiral toward
greater achievement and social development each year. We hope that every
parent can enjoy a relationship with the school not unlike that of
June and Ward Cleaver where every bump in the road can be
handled in a single twenty-two minute episode. It does indeed take a
partnership among teachers, parents, and administrators to guide a
child successfully through school. Just as business partners have
bylaws to govern interactions and expectations; this document
outlines questions to raise when you seek to resolve a conflict with
Problems do indeed arise on
occasion. They are part of the child’s development and
distinguishing feature of human nature. Bethel school personnel have
the desire, expertise, and empathy to work with you in dealing with
conflicts or difficulties. We suggest that you review these
questions as you interact with the school to resolve a conflict.
<-- Back to top--
Questions To Ask Yourself
1. Have I established a relationship with the teacher, counselor, or principal?
We hope that all parents can answer this question quickly and in
the affirmative. A previous relationship is helpful because it
establishes understanding and a common purpose. As early as
possible in the year tell the teacher about your child, siblings,
activities, and any events that mark home life (births, deaths,
separation, divorce, travel).
2, When conflict arises should I call the school or visit in person? School
personnel are busy people during the day and are often not available
to respond immediately. An appointment can save you time in your
schedule. Appearing at school unannounced might cause you to wait
until those to whom you wish to speak are available. Minor issues can
generally be addressed over the phone while areas of wider
concern may be better served in person so that school
administrators can work in collaboration with other staff present.
3. When a conflict arises, what is my purpose as I interact with the school? Most
of us have been parents and we understand your desire to spring into
action to make things better for your child immediately. Problems
are often upsetting and can lead to an understandable fit of pique.
During these times your first true purpose may be to vent anger
and frustration but this approach has only a short term, and
largely negative, impact. We suggest that your primary purpose should
be initially to gather information - to get the facts straight. Then
consider that most often your real purpose is to find a
solution and to change behavior, either that of your child or
school personnel. Focus on strategies that will open dialogue in
this direction. School personnel can be more effective in listening
to you if your purpose is clearly defined toward problem
4. When a problem arises that I wish to report should I use my name?
This is an issue of trust. Many times principals are uncertain about
the credibility of a call when it is made anonymously. We
suggest that you give your name as a sign of good faith. If you
are concerned that your name will be used incorrectly,
please relay that concern to the principal or teacher to ensure that
they become sensitive to your feelings. On occasion parents
believe that their child will suffer retribution if his/her name
is associated with a complaint. Also state your concern
forthrightly because it further demonstrates your
willingness to help in confronting and solving a problem.
5. What should I believe about an incident that purportedly happens at school? Remember
that issues are seldom as simple as they appear after the fact. The
conflict and emotions of the moment can make for great drama in the
retelling. As humans we often value embellishment more than truth.
We suggest that you call the school principal or the teacher when
an issue arises that you believe might eventually compromise
your child’s safety or capacity to learn. School personnel will
appreciate your concern and your willingness to seek the truth.
Please remember that discipline and personnel issues are dealt
with in a confidential manner. Details are not shared with the public.
6. When a conflict arises with the school where do I start?
The best place to resolve a problem is with the teacher. Often
times emotions make this a difficult decision. When you call a
counselor, principal, or superintendent first, teachers generally
feel that they have been by-passed and their abiity to
explain or to resolve a dilemma has been taken from them.
<-- Back to top--
How should I best approach the teacher when a problem arises?
- First, have notes prepared about questions you want to ask, clarification, and points you want to make.
- Second, take notes so that you can accurately recall the conversation.
- Third, establish the fact
that you have started your intervention with the teacher because
he/she knows the child well and that in partnership, you want
to work through this problem.
- Fourth, remember that in a conflict
situation, there are multiple versions of an incident and that
you may have been privy to only one. It is a good idea to
hear completely what the teacher has to say without interruption
and then seek clarification of specifics when he/she is finished.
- Fifth, if you find that you
and the teacher have a difference of opinion use your notes to
outline your concerns. It is a good idea to have identified the
remedy you seek so that you can fully share your thoughts for a
solution with the teacher.
- Sixth, if you find that you are
unable to reach accord with the teacher, you should advise
him/her that you need to talk with the principal further.
- Seventh, follow up and ask for an update when appropriate.
<-- Back to top--
How should I best approach the principal when a problem arises?
- First, you again have to decide if you want to call or to make a personal appointment.
- Second, review your notes
so that you can explain, in sequence, the issues, your concerns,
and the points you wish to make.
- Third, try to avoid threats
and shouting. Principals are experienced and want to work with parents
whenever possible. They believe that creating an
adversarial relationship is counterproductive.
- Fourth, expect that the
principal will not be able to address your concerns fully right way.
The principal will have to speak with the teacher(s) involved
and perhaps other resources before being able to fully address the
Should you be dissatisfied with the
response from personnel at the local level, make sure you have
exhausted your options there before calling central office.
<-- Back to top--
When Should I Contact My Child’s Counselor?
Each Bethel elementary school has
a guidance counselor and the middle School has three guidance
counselors. If you believe that your child is
experiencing adjustment difficulties, new personal challenges,
or problems arising from family situations, it is a good idea
to call the school counselor. These counselors do
not do therapeutic or psychiatric counseling but can be of
assistance in teaming with you and the teacher(s) to work
through a myriad of problems. Counselors are excellent at
gathering together all of your child’s teachers and
administrators in order to assure that each is aware of a
problem and thereby addresses it with a common strategy.
Counselors work with children throughout the day to help them
cope with problems in a positive manner. Lastly,
counselors are an excellent resource for parents when children
approach new and perhaps baffling phases.
Don’t Dwell on the Past - When a
difficulty arises and is dealt with, be it a conflict or a
discipline situation, children need to draw appropriate lessons but
then move on with their lives. Parents and school personnel
should heed the same lesson. The march toward maturity
causes everyone to make mistakes, and as adults, we may view
those mistakes differently at times.
<-- Back to top--
Fifteen Ways to Help Kids Through Crisis
Expect a crisis.
Every child will go through some sort of crisis. It’s a natural
part of growing up. So don’t be surprised. Expect and prepare for
it. Be ready for the opportunity to help.
Know your child.
The best way to help is to see the crisis coming. Remember you won’t
see a crisis coming if you don’t know your child. Crisis causes
kids to change what they say, how they feel, and how they act.
Know what is normal so you can recognize change.
Love your child.
Kids feel pain in crisis. They need your love, your trust. They need
you. But they will not come to you in time of storm if they
don’t feel your love in calm. Show your kids you love them now.
Communicate with your child. Talk with and listen to your child. Ask about dreams and fears. Show interest now so each child will know you care.
Build trusting relationships.
Knowing, loving, and communicating with your kids builds parent and
child trust. Build similar relationships with other adults – a
trusted friend, neighbor or family member – to whom you and your
child can go in crisis. You and your child need support. Build
Look for the signs of crisis.
Look for these warning signs: increased anxiety, changes in
appetite or sleeping patterns, depression, shame, guilt, anger,
and hostility. If you recognize these or other sudden and dramatic
changes in your child, look for crisis.
Locate the cause of crisis. Ask your child how he feels, what is bothering him/her. Find the source of pressure so you can help relieve it.
Understand your child’s reactions.
Your child will try various methods to cope with pain and make the
crisis go away. Tensions and emotions can run high, resulting
in explosive words and actions. Recognize and understand why your
child is reacting, and respond in love.
Listen and talk.
Ask your child to describe his feelings. Repeat back to your child what
he/she has said. Feel your child’s pain. Tell your child
you understand how hard it is for him/her and how painful it is for you
to see him/her go through the crisis. Offer empathy, not quick
Accept your child.
Your child may become increasingly hostile or negative toward you.
Do not judge your child’s behavior. Understand why he/she is
reacting, and lovingly accept your child while correcting his actions.
Hug and hold your child.
Express your love consistently in words and actions. Tell him/her
that he/she is loved, valued, and accepted no matter what.
After you have listened, understood and identified with your child’s
pain, offer positive feed back. Give him/her some practical action
or task you know he/she can do to build his/her self-worth. (It is
good if the task helps someone else.) Tell your child you trust him/her
and his/her ability to rise above the difficulty. Do not let
yourself be overwhelmed by the crisis. Seek professional guidance if
you don’t know what to do or say.
Praise your child. Tell your child how impressed you are with his/her ability to endure hardship.
Apply the positive lesson(s) learned.
Admit any mistakes you made in handling a crisis. Affirm your love
for your child. Discuss how you felt. Listen to your
child’s feelings. Talk about what worked and evaluate what was
accomplished. Together, agree on how to correct the problems and the
best way to handle feelings and actions next time.
Prepare for the next crisis.
Agree that going through crisis is better together than alone.
Discuss the other potential crises that might happen based upon
what you learned.
<-- Back to top--
Teaching Children Responsibility
Parenting is a difficult task and
one that requires a plan. If you don’t have a clear idea of your
specific objectives, you’ll end up reacting all the time instead
of acting. If you want to succeed, you need some precise goals.
Without specific goals we tend to evaluate our parenting skills
on momentary feelings, which are often an exasperation or lack of
patience. The best defense is a good offense.
Our primary objective as parents and
as educators is to teach responsibility. A child moves from
being asked to dress himself, to making a bed, to doing family
jobs and homework and later much more. Responsibility means more
than any of these ideas. It means to become mature in the sense of
responsibility to family, to self, to society, for all aspects of our
lives, for our talents, for our potential, for our actions.
At the most basic level (ages2-6)
responsibility is obedience to parents. At the next higher level
(ages 6-10) responsibility becomes morality or concern for
how our actions and attributes affect others. At the next level (ages
10-12) a disciplined responsibility to self in choices and in
character is shaped. At the highest level (about 12-14) the concept
of service responsibility to the larger community plays an important
role in the child’s life.
Whenever we interact with children
about a difficult situation or a mistake that they have made while
interacting with others, it is best to focus on the idea of
responsibility and your goal as a parent.
<-- Back to top--
Children Learn What They Live
If a child lives with criticism
He leans to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility,
He learns to fight.
If a child lives with ridicule,
He learns to be shy.
If a child lives with shame,
He learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with tolerance,
He learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement,
He learns confidence.
If a child lives with praise,
He learns to appreciate.
If a child lives with fairness,
He learns justice.
If a child lives with security,
He learns to have faith.
If a child lives with approval,
He learns to like himself.
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship,
He learns to find love in the world.
~ From “Kids Peace”
<-- Back to top--