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Strategies for Educators to Deal with Difficult Parents

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Parents can be a handful several times. Some traits of difficult parents include being extremely rude, aggressive, combative and litigious too! I understand that they love their kids, but it’s just plain and simply annoying.

Over the years, I came up with strategies and applied them while dealing with difficult parents of my students. I assure you, the strategies do not include giving higher grades to kids so that parents stay happy! I am an educator, an honest one and my students are my priority; no matter how annoying parents get.

Ways to Deal Better with the Parents

Let’s look into how our teachers can deal with difficult parents without any issues whatsoever. Say goodbye to this misfortune by facing it the best ways possible:

Understand the Real Concern

  • Teachers need to understand that parents love their child. This is the main reason why they really end up being aggressive when their kids are called slow learners or anything even slightly negative. You need to keep calm. Learn when to stop advancing with a conversation and know the right time to tell the parents about issues with regard to their child.

Take It Really Carefully!

  • Know what to speak and when. Be extremely careful while communicating with the child’s parents. You do not have to tell a parent about the child’s issue unless you’ve got enough evidence. This is the only way in which you can communicate effectively, along with keeping calm.

Don’t Crosstalk

  • When a parent lashes out, do not react. You don’t know what’s going on in their minds while you’re telling them about the child’s poor performance along the semester. Parents tend to get fired up when you crosstalk. Make sure you schedule a meeting as per their and your convenience so that nobody walks out of the conversation.

Rely on Your Professionalism

  • Be professional. Some basic things like keeping writing material ready can also help! This way, parents will feel like the issue discussed is serious and for the welfare of the child. It’s a non-verbal signal on your part to portray how seriously you take the student’s life. Let them know that you’re making a note of the prime points in the conversation and that you care for the child.

Engage Parents

  • Go for a walk on your premises with the parents. Try new ways to talk to parents. This gives a change in the environment for all; implies a positive environment too. The more positive your approach will be, I assure you, the more positively the parents will take in the child’s problems in school. In simple words, try being non-adversarial.

Be Proactive

  • There’s no need to blast a parent with information. Plan out the conversation. Be proactive, not reactive. You can always call the parent well in advance regarding the issue rather than them hearing it from the Principal! Be straight- forward, welcome them and talk it out like adults. At the end of it, let them know how much you care and would like to help whichever way possible.

Be More Courteous

  • Sometimes, parents tend to get very irritated about annual parent-teacher meetings. Probably because the kids take away all the attention! Speak to the parents about themselves. Ask them how they are doing, their work life, personal life and so on. This way, you can form an amazing rapport with the parents and take up the issues eventually, based upon the priority. But, you need to understand that parents also need some care, some attention. Give them the comfort you can offer and be kind.

What About a Parent-Room?

  • Try out setting up a parent resource space wherein, parents get access to multiple resources. A concept similar to LMS except, for parents and it can be virtual or in- person. A parent room, I used to call it back in time. It can comprise of pastel shade color paints with resources available and a lot of comfortable sitting areas. Maybe open windows, some translucent curtains and so much more. This space can be used for any group or individual interaction with parents. This way, parents will feel very involved and truly wanted by the educational institution.

Remain Polite

  • Work on the way you present yourself. Verbal and non- verbal communication training is very important. Speak in a somber tone, place your points well and feel free to sign up for body language training or communication skill development training. It’s a great way to stay sorted, stay integral and out of trouble!

Do Some Paperwork

  • Paperwork is important. Feel free to document your conversations with parents. There are so many cases that I’ve come across wherein, the teacher had to say goodbye to her profession because a parent provoked the teacher to shout! Documented conversations are a great way to help fellow colleagues deal with whatever you did. More importantly, if any lawsuit comes your way, it’s evidence! Help yourself, help others too. At the end of the day, paperwork represents facts; facts leave no room for possibilities!

Develop Soft Skills Really Hard!

  • Some parents are just plain and simple abrasive. Develop professional skills as an educator; be it communication or soft skills or while dealing with difficult people, it all helps! Some parents just keep shouting. You need to know how to state facts here and there in the conversation. Do not let them slide off and getaway. Address the issue and resolve it professionally.

Look for Issues in the Parents

  • Sometimes, parents have issues, leading to children being in trouble. Be it an addiction or some kind of abuse, talk to the child. Children are pretty honest; if you have doubts, verify the observations you record from the conversation. I came across cases wherein, the father would abuse the child emotionally, leading to learning disabilities. It was taken care of because I spoke to the child and found out information indirectly. It was taken care of within a year after the conversation!

The Summary, Overall

You need to understand something; the above strategies do not work for each and every parent. Just the way it is with students, parents too have differences. Feel free to involve administration while dealing with difficult parents. Make it subtle; if the parents are too abusive or rough, go ahead and involve the law.

You are an educator. Remember to be safe. The parents and children don’t always understand the intentions of teachers; be clear and stay out of trouble like you ask your students too!

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By Niall Kennedy

Niall Kennedy is the Creative Director at ?Preferred training networks?. He has over 20 years of experience in Professio...more

Niall Kennedy is the Creative Director at ?Preferred training networks?. He has over 20 years of experience in Professional Development Industry. He has published 4 business books - ?All Aboard the Brain Train,? ?Healthy Leadership,? ?Errant Workplace Behaviours,? and ?Hidden Observations?. less

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