Difficult parents come in a variety of personalities. Not all difficult parents are the same. While some parents may be extremely nosy and overzealous about their child's grades and behavior, others may feel superior to any teacher or administrator they encounter, especially if they are intent on defending their child at all costs. Knowing how to deal with difficult parents is essential when working as a teacher or administrator to prevent potential conflict and upset with the school, your student, and the administrative board. Once you feel comfortable dealing with difficult parents, it becomes much easier to do so without feeling anxious, nervous, or simply overwhelmed with the process as a whole.
Remain Professional at All Times
As a professional working as an educator or administrator, you are a role model to impressionable students of all ages. Because you play a significant role in the upbringing of children, it is imperative to remain professional at all times, even when you are confronted by a relentless difficult parent of a student in your classroom.
Difficult parents may feel condescending, authoritative, or simply downright rude depending on the parent you are talking with and the issue at-hand you are discussing. While it is never okay to allow a parent to verbally abuse or disrespect you, it is also important to keep your cool and seek further assistance from your boss or your local board of education if the matter becomes too intense for you to take on.
Inform Parents of Issues to Prevent Unwanted Surprises
Sometimes, parents confront educators after their child receives a failing grade or is sent home due to bad behavior or a suspension. It is highly recommended to discuss issues you are experiencing with difficult studentswith their parents throughout the entirety of the school year. Rather than sending a report card home and awaiting a call or visit from a difficult parent, inform them of their child's slacking or other learning challenges they may be facing while in the classroom ahead of time.
When a parent is informed and notified each time their child misses an important benchmark point in the year, they are less likely to feel shocked and upset when their child receives a bad grade or a not so impressive report card. It is also vital to discuss a child's bad behavior with parents regularly to ensure they are aware of the situation, allowing them to take parental action at home. Even the most easygoing parent is likely to take issue with an educator who has never mentioned bad behavior or physical altercations in the classroom in the past sending their child home or suspending them. Ongoing communication is the key to keeping difficult parents at bay and from confronting you when their child receives consequences for their actions.
Meet With Parents Personally
Schedule a meeting with potentially difficult parents in person to show respect and that you genuinely care for the wellbeing of their child and your student. Meeting directly in person is a great way to gauge the overall attitude and emotions a parent may have regarding the situation that involves their child. When you insist on scheduling an in-person meeting, parents may feel less confrontational and more open to listening while expressing their own concerns. Taking the initiative to schedule a meeting with a parent who is upset or disgruntled shows professionalism while allowing you an opportunity to settle any issues a parent may have.
Inform Your School's Principal or Your Board of Education Directors of Issues
Anytime you experience a confrontation or an argument with a difficult parent, inform your school's principal or your local board of education directors immediately. Avoid getting personal when discussing educational matters and students with parents, even if they are rude, insulting, and acting inappropriately towards you. File an immediate report with your principal, department chair, or the board of directors to protect your position and yourself legally if you are unable to solve the issue yourself.
Remember to Listen
Once in a while, you may find yourself conversing with a parent who wants to teach you, rather than allow you to teach their child. While this can feel extremely frustrating (especially when discussing a child who is often problematic), it is still important to listen to the parent with an open mind.
Having an open mind is part of working as a teacher or as a professional in the education sector. Knowing how to actively listen can ultimately save you from future headaches and upsets from the most challenging and confrontational parents. Regardless of your own personality type, having the ability to effectively navigate difficult conversations and meetings is essential to prevent upset parents from walking all over you and calling the shots. Do not allow yourself to be pressured by a parent, even if they are extremely demanding and persistent. If the parent is unhappy with your teaching or their child's grades and will not work with you, knowing when to end the conversation and seek help from higher up in the administration is a must.
Stand Up For Yourself
As an educator, it is vital to always stand up for yourself and your rights as a teacher or administrator. When a parent is being too pushy, end the conversation and consider filing a report to your school's principal or department chair. If a parent wants to talk with you each day, express your need to share your time with your students and set a time and place to meet the parent in person instead. If you are confronted by a parent who is extremely upset about their child's grades or report cards, show them their child's schoolwork and any portfolio they have put together. Explain potential issues and hangups their child is exhibiting in the classroom and refuse to back down if a parent remains disgruntled or angry without accepting the facts.
Take Time for Yourself
Working as an educator or administrator requires hard work, consistency, passion, and a dedication to the students you teach and represent. Oftentimes, educators find themselves grading papers and working into the late hours of the night, adding to the stress of their positions. Although dealing with difficult parents is sometimes simply part of the job, it is also essential to take time for yourself to unwind and find balance in everyday life. When you feel balanced, calm, and stress-free each day while heading to work, you are less likely to allow a challenging parent to shift your mood or your teaching methods.
Confronting a difficult parent is never a pleasant experience, especially while you are responsible for many other students each day. However, with the right tips and tricks, ensure you choose the proper route to take whenever you are approached by a challenging parent you have communicated with in the past. While there is not always one simple solution to deal with difficult parents as an administrator or a teacher, it is possible to effectively communicate with even the most challenging parents with the right methods.