Mutiara International Grammar School, Ampang
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Small Wonder Malaysia
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Odyssey, The Global Preschool (Mont Kiara)

Help! How Do I Deal With a Difficult Parent as a Teacher?

by on 31/03/2022 2698

A big problem that many teachers face in class are their interactions with a difficult child. Teaching can become complicated, and the classroom environment can turn sour. But those years of training have prepped teachers, especially new ones, to deal with children – from learning difficulties to behavioural problems. Many may have skipped over the fact that with a class of 20 children, teachers are also taking on roughly double the number of parents, where many can be hard to handle at times.

If you’re a teacher and you’ve got a few difficult parents to handle in kindergarten, here are some tips to help you manage them while maintaining positive relationships.

1. Establishing Expectations

Why wait until things go sour? One of the best ways to avoid conflict from the get-go is to establish expectations up front. Explain to the parents what they can anticipate when their child is enrolled to the program, and the outcomes of it. This helps alleviate the anxiety of the unknown and goes to show that in the future that their child is on the right track of progression. A detailed syllabus or a timeline of subjects or areas that will be covered throughout the semester also can help manage parents expectations.

2. Building Positive Relationships

Build positive relationships with the parent beforehand, so that when there is a situation, it can be dealt without negativity surrounding the issue. Instead of waiting until an issue arises, how about initiating the first contact through call, email, WhatsApp, or even a face-to-face greeting by conveying positive developments of the child. Individualised progress updates about their child’s improvements regarding daily activities will make the parent feel less defensive if a situation arises. This makes them understand that you don’t only point out the weaknesses or wrongdoings of the child, but are there every step of the way.

3. Keeping Your Cool

Yelling at each other accomplishes nothing. Unfortunately, many parents get defensive when it involves their beloved children, and launch their attack mode. When you’re calm, you’re in control of the situation. Teachers must always find a way to maintain peace while reaching out to the parent in order to help the student. Bear in mind to never take anger personally, as we almost always regret what we say enraged. It’s tough to get yelled at, but yelling back isn’t going to solve the problem.

4. Record Keeping

If a need arises to confront the family about unacceptable behaviours coming from their children, make sure you have proof to back up your claim. Keep track of behavioural problems as well as past communications with the parents relaying the issue. Start a folder for each student, and jot down notes and any communication between the teacher & parent for future references. Don’t just highlight the bad, but also remember to include positive and good behaviour in those notes. These records will help teachers explain their point of view when meeting with a parent.

5. Stop Judging

It may be tempting to blame a child’s problems on the parent or on their household problems, but that’s never the way. Try to be understanding and try to see where the difficult child and parents are coming from. Refrain from avoiding difficult parents too, it just makes matters worse!

6. Keeping Lines of Communication Open

After a difficult interaction with a parent, one’s natural instinct might be to avoid them at all costs. But this is never the best response and may only lead to further difficulties down the road. Reassure the parent that you’ll continue to observe their child and will report back if anything arises. Parents need to know that their child is making progress, and the only way they can do that is with timely reports from teachers. So don’t shy away after an awkward conversation, but try to make the best out of it.

7. Having Empathy

Ultimately, it’s important that a teacher remember that every parent is sensitive when it comes to their little one’s behaviour. Some parents may feel like the child’s behaviour reflects themselves when the child misbehaves, thus making them sensitive and easily angered. Be mindful throughout the conversation, and try to tread lightly on sensitive issues. Teaching isn’t only an interaction between the educator and the student, but also an interaction with their parents.