Over the years, I’ve worked with many parents. Often, they are stressed out, scared about a recent diagnosis and searching for ways to help their child. Working with your child’s teachers is necessary. And the way you approach them MATTERS.

Have you ever had an experience with a coworker or neighbor where you felt bullied or threatened? Perhaps someone accused you of wrong-doing or spoke to you in an unkind way. Maybe a colleague belittled you in front of others. Have you ever had a neighbor who was talking behind your back or demanding that you take care of something right away?

I think it’s normal to feel resentment towards this person but have you ever considered how you feel about their family? Would you trust this coworker’s teenage daughter to babysit for you? Would you ask that neighbor’s child to walk your dog? Even though their children did nothing wrong, the resentment seems to transfer to them anyway. We may strive to be kind and nonjudgmental, but the reality is that we’re human.

Now consider how you approach your child’s teacher…

Parents of Child A: Child A had a significant reading disability and was reading well below grade level. Parents were well-educated about learning disabilities, open to understanding how their daughter learned differently from typical peers and ready to support their child in a positive way. They met with me often to review progress and share ideas for continued improvement. They worked with their daughter at home to practice and review what she had learned at school. When they had questions or concerns, they sent an email or left a voicemail and were appreciative when I got back to them in a timely manner.

Parents of Child B: Child B also had a significant reading disability and was reading well below grade level. Parents were also well-educated and had a clear understanding how their daughter learned differently from typical peers. However, they demanded weekly meetings to review progress. They pushed for the school to use a specific reading program that they had read about online. They insisted on receiving extra work for their child to do at home and pushed her to do hours of additional study over what was recommended. They confronted me in the hallways of the school to ask questions and voice concerns.

Both students were lovely, friendly, well-mannered and hard-working. However, which one do you think was easier to work with?

Despite our best attempts at remaining impartial, teachers are human. We will absolutely treat every child with respect. But how parents choose to work with us matters. Which parent do you want to be?