Communicating with Challenging Parents
1. Change your mindset
“That child is their whole world. Always remember this when you are working with a parent that is challenging you.”
Don’t think of them as challenging parents, think of them as loving parents.
Remember that all they want is the best for their child. We may not always agree with what they think is best, but they are the parent. We must respect them.
Sometimes it helps to put yourself in their shoes, your whole outlook may change.
2. Setting Boundaries
Set boundaries for yourself. Inform parents at the start of the year about your protocol with email replies and your policy for returning phone calls. Set a time-frame of when you will answer emails or return calls and stick to it.
You can even suggest that you will get back to them within 48 hours. You may need to sleep on it and may need time to reflect before answering.
3. Phone Calls & Emails
Your mentality when making a phone call is important. The purpose of a phone call is to not go head to head. It is to work together to find a solution to the problem.
Remember, emails never go away. CC or BC administration if necessary and forward anything that you feel has stepped over boundaries to your administration as well. They would rather have a heads up than get an unexpected phone call from an upset parent.
4. Meet in the Middle
Sometimes it’s okay to apologize. If you made a mistake, fess up to it. You aren’t perfect, and that’s ok. Just be willing to apologize, learn from it, and grow as an educator. The parent will respect you even more and will be more willing to meet you half way if you are honest and open to other considerations.
5. Choose to be positive
Focus on finding something positive about every student. This will help pull you away from any negative or frustrating situations.
It’s easy to get mad and vent to your teacher bestie. But that just brings you both down. Find something positive in the situation. Sometimes I have to tell myself, “At least that child is lucky enough to have a parent who cares about him.” The truth is that I am more worries about the parents that I don’t hear from all year. It’s all about perspective!