Q My eldest daughter is just turning nine and has been having panic attacks since she found out who her new class teacher is. The woman in question has a fearsome reputation in the school and sounds like she is very strict and very cross. My daughter is prone to anxiety anyway, but she is terrified now that her teacher will be cross with her.
David replies: Many teachers come with reputations, some based on fact and some on rumour and gossip. Perhaps you too have a preconception of how this teacher might be but it is important that you stay calm and make no assumptions until you and your daughter actually experience the teacher in action.
I think it is good to listen to your daughter’s fears and to acknowledge that she may be worried about the new teacher. Your calm listening and empathy may assuage the panic. Once you have shown your daughter that you can understand her level of worry, you can then let her know that both of you can manage this together.
You need to role model an openness and willingness to get to know the teacher and how she operates, before you take on board any rumours that might circulate. If your daughter sees that you have confidence in both her and the teacher, to be able to get on with each other, it might bolster your daughter’s confidence in her ability to cope in the class. A review at the October mid-term may determine if you need to take some other action.
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