11 Things Parents Should Stop Saying to Teachers, According to Teachers

Keep this handy for your next parent-teacher conference.

The parent-teacher relationship is one that ultimately requires a lot of careful navigation. Interfere too much, and you become the dreaded helicopter parent, torturing the person who guides your kid for the 40 hours a week you’re not around. Ask too little, and you risk being condescending and flippant in one of the most important periods of your kid’s educational future. It’s a tricky balancing act. But what seemingly innocuous phrases should you definitely avoid saying to them? We reached out to a number of educators and asked them to shed light on the topic. They generously obliged. Here are the 11 things that teachers wish you would stop saying to them.

1. “I don’t know what the problem is. He doesn’t act like that at home.”

It’s probable that your kid doesn’t act like “that” at home because at home, they’re not surrounded by 20 other students who are equally as energized and excited and uninhibited as they are. “It would be helpful for a parent to see that disruptive behaviors increase exponentially when you add peers,” said one teacher.

2. “We are going on a vacation for a week. Will my child miss anything important?”

If a teacher says no, that means what they’re doing for your child isn’t important. If they say yes, well, you’re in a bind.

3. “You don’t know my child.”

Parents will say this when they don’t like a recommendation I make to them about their kid. It’s frustrating and belittling,” said one teacher.

4. “Can you give my kid extra homework?”

Wanting your kid to be challenged more is totally rational. But asking that of a teacher who is already juggling the individual needs of about 20 other students can seem inconsiderate.

5. “My kid had a bad day. Can he retake the test?”

Everyone has bad days. Trying to get your kid to not feel the consequences of having those bad days by asking a teacher to go the extra mile and give him a re-do doesn’t really reflect the real world.

6. “My child would never…”

Many teachers expressed frustration at this phrase because oftentimes, it comes after a teacher has seen bad behavior and let the parent know about it.

7. “Please come to my kid’s birthday party!”

Not only is this slightly inappropriate on a professional standpoint, you’re asking a teacher whose full-time job is to care for your kid to take time out of their precious time-off to spend more time around your kid. It’s an impossible question to say no to, because it’s potentially rude, but it’s not something anyone wants to say yes to.

8. “My kid is gifted, you know…”

This is usually said when a kid is underperforming and struggling or when the kid is bored in the classroom and acting out.

9. “When I was a kid, we didn’t do it that way.”

“Things change. Technologies and information changes. Many things are different in education because we are learning about how to teach our kids better. Trust the trained educators and let them do their jobs.”

10. “When you get some free time, can you XYZ?”

To a lot of teachers, this question simply makes it seem like you don’t realize how hard they are working.

11. “My child is really struggling with the way other kids are behaving.”

“No kid is an angel. It’s probable that your kid behaves just as poorly some days as the next trouble-making kid,” said one teacher. Pushing the blame on everyone else helps no one.