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Q&A: My child's teacher says "shut up" and "that sucks!" Is this ok?


There is a junior high teacher at school who is wonderful with the kids, excites them about learning, and really seems to make it easy for kids to talk with him. I’ve never heard one parent or kid ever say anything negative about this person. However, I am bothered that the teacher uses language in the classroom that I find unacceptable (e.g., “shut up,” “suck,” etc.). I know this is the way kids talk, so I guess he is trying to relate to them at their level. Should I be quiet or say something to the principal?


Don’t talk with the principal, but please speak directly with this teacher about your concerns. It is not necessary to say use offensive language to connect with kids.



I recently read that parents should never help their kids with homework. If children are having problems, they should speak directly with their teachers. I have two children (8 and 13) and I typically spend about two hours every night helping them with their assignments, checking their work, testing them after they study, and making certain that everything is okay. They are both honor roll students. Am I making a mistake?



I’ve learned so much from listening to kids and parents about what works in families, and the “law of moderation” seems to hold true in most situations. Whenever you are confronted with some issue, avoid responding in an extreme manner and things generally turn out okay.

It’s ridiculous advice to suggest that you should never help your child with homework, but it is just as wrong to spend two hours a night on your kids’ assignments. One of the most important jobs we have as parents is to make ourselves unnecessary, so that our kids are empowered to function independently as they enter adulthood. While your kids may be getting good grades, that may be due to your supervision and support.

It’s time for you to back off. Offer them some help if needed. Hold your children responsible for getting good grades, but communicate that homework is their responsibility, not yours.


I have a student who is gifted academically but refuses to participate in any after-school activities. She has tried sports and various clubs, but says they are boring. Should I make her do it anyway?


While academic success is important, there is a lot to be learned by participating in sports, clubs, volunteering, and similar activities. Kids learn about problem solving, getting along with others, communicating, and negotiating. Many times children will form friendships and pursue interests that cannot be readily done in a classroom setting.

It would not be unreasonable for you to require your daughter to participate in at least one activity year round. Encourage her to continue to try new things, and I suspect that eventually something will arouse her passions.




  1. Reply
    einfachschoen September 19, 2011

    I think, that it isn’t okay if a child’s teacher says “shut up” or “that suck”. He must be a example.

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