Dealing with difficult parents adds to the stress of teaching. Here are a few strategies for dealing with difficult parents.
- Keep Your Cool
Maintaining your composure is rule number one. You and the parent have a common interest in the wellbeing of your student and their child. Use the common interest to reach the parent in a genuine and kind way. Don’t take any yelling personally and don’t raise your voice back. Yelling at each other won’t accomplish anything.
- Build Trust
Touch base on a regular basis with parents. Showing interest in their child and letting them know the good things that are happening in the classroom helps to build trust. Contacting a parent to let them know their kid did a great job at something instead of just contacting parents to let them know something is wrong builds a rapport with parents.
- Keep Parents Informed
This is one of the most important things you can do. Make sure you keep parents aware of any concerns you may have. Keep a record of your conversations with parents because some parents may “forget” about the conversation.
- Engage with the Community
This is a win-win situation. Reaching out to the community can build support for teachers. It allows students to showcase their skills and they’ll feel good doing it. The community also wins because they benefit from the positive community engagement that young ones are taking part in.
- Let the Principal or Department Chair Know
The principal may want to sit in on the meeting or be available if the issue can’t be resolved.
- Establish Your Authority
Looking the parent in the eye and speaking with confidence and authority can be difficult but it’s important. It shows you are interested in what’s being said and you’re paying close attention. Speaking with a low voice can also help. When people get nervous, their voice can get shaky and lack confidence. It will also help the parent notice they’re speaking loudly.
- Show Empathy
Saying “I’m sorry that happened” can be very effective. You are acknowledging that the incident happened and showing concern about it. The parent may just want someone to be concerned like they are.
- Give Parents Resources
Many parents may lack the skills and knowledge to help their child with schoolwork. Offering resources for parents to help their children shows that you really care about their child’s success. Some of these resources could be tutors, online resources, and times students can ask extra questions.
- Don’t be Pressured
You may be put in a situation where a parent is pressuring you to change their child’s grade when they haven’t met the requirements. You don’t want to set the precedent that you can be manipulated by parents.
- Know When to End the Conversation
There are some situations where you may not be able to come to an understanding and work together. If the parent crosses the line from angry to abusive, it’s time to end the conversation. If they want to, they can take the issue up with the principal.
Engaging Parents to Increase Student Achievement
- Conducting the Parent Conference