Every day my high-school sophomore comes home and complains about what she calls her very mean and demanding math teacher. What should my role be in this conflict? -- Uncertain


At every level, children have conflicts with their teachers. How to resolve them depends greatly on a child's level in school. However, there is also one constant: Don't jump the gun and call the teacher right away or ask for your child to switch teachers. Instead, be a fact-gatherer first, to make sure you completely understand the situation before searching for solutions. At preschool and elementary levels, it is usually wise to visit the classroom in order to see exactly what is happening. After that, it is time for a conference with the teacher.

At the high-school level, parents should not take a primary role in resolving conflicts between student and teacher. You should not immediately rescue your child by talking to the teacher or having her drop the math class. You will want the child to stay in the class unless it is too advanced for her. Meanwhile, do express confidence in your child's ability to handle the situation.

Point out that it is natural for conflict to occur. For example, there will be bosses and neighbors in the future with whom your daughter will have conflicts. This can be a first lesson in learning how to get along with difficult people. Do act as a mentor, however, in guiding her to find possible solutions to this problem.