How to Deal with Difficult Parents? Tips for School Leaders
As a school administrator or a teacher, it is not possible for you to make everybody happy. You are in a position where sometimes it gets necessary to make difficult decisions. Many decisions will not be easy. Parents will probably challenge your decisions and dealing with such parents is virtually impossible for any educator to escape. In the process, it’s not always necessary to challenge the parent in return.
Building Relationships will work to your advantage- Make them feel the humane-ness of teacher- student -Parent relationship
It becomes really easy to deal with any parent if you can build a relationship with them before a difficult situation arises.
Try to be in touch with them on regular basis (A strategy that can be helpful for teachers is to maintain a track of parents of the students in the class and call them once a month to have a general chat over phone), make them believe that you genuinely have the best interest of his/her child in each of your decisions. This is not the only solution to deal with difficult parents, but it can help considerably.
Building those relationships take time, and some people are resistant and combative to you even trying for whatever reason,, but being a leader, it’s your duty to take a step forward.
Be Prepared- “To be Prepared is half the victory.”
You will have parents who storm into your office or room cursing and screaming, you have to handle it without getting emotionally wrapped around it. It is possible that a meeting will turn combative once inside your office or classroom, so, it is critical as well as necessary for you to be prepared for any possible situation.
Sometimes, the parent may directly reach the teachers without even meeting a school administrator and so, it is your responsibility to give training to teachers on handling such scenarios.
Teachers should be trained to direct the parent to the school administrator and to walk away from the situation and then immediately call the office to inform them of the situation. In no case the teacher should not be encouraged to argue with the parents.
Listen to them and Being Polite- The best way to handle things responsibly
Try and understand a parent’s position. A lot of times when a parent comes to you with a concern, they are frustrated, and they need someone to listen to them. Listen to what they have to say and then respond in as diplomatic a manner as you can.
Give them the best explanation that you can and be as honest as you can with them. Understand that you are not always going to make them happy, but it will help if you can prove to them that you will take everything they have to say into consideration.
Use Examples- The best tool to help explain a situation to the parent
A child is always the favorite one of his/her parent. A parent may not agree to what you respond to them and deny that the event is not possible.
So, be always ready with specific examples and instances and highlight it while explaining them. Even if the parent is not ready to believe then do contact them the next time when their child behaves the same and quote the previous incident too.
Highlighting these instances helps the parent see that perhaps their child is at fault.
For example, suppose the teacher asked the class to work on a group presentation and Rohan started disturbing all the other batchmates during this activity. Ask him to stop and take active participation in the activity and note down the incident. If he repeats the same thing again then contact his parents and mention the incident and how his behavior is not changing.
Highlighting these instances will help the parent to see that perhaps little Rohan is capable of doing “less than angelic things”.
Take Necessary Steps- Helps building trust in Parents
Everyone makes mistakes. Teachers have many responsibilities and there are many opportunities to error. When a parent brings an error to light, the proper procedure for the school (teacher or administrator) is to be gracious and accepting of the information. If the parent is taking the time to bring attention to the matter, the school must be willing to put in the time to investigate. By acknowledging the possibility of an error and looking into it, the parent feels that the school cares enough to do the right thing.
Give them Assurance- Make them feel that you are concerned
A parent may come with frustration, anger, and dissatisfaction but the most important thing is that when he/she returns, he should have an assurance that you are there to help them and their children.
The words, “I am so sorry that happened” are highly effective. These six little words convey a great deal. First, it shows that you listened to what was said and are concerned about everyone’s well-being. In addition to acknowledging what happened, you are providing an opportunity to establish a rapport with them.
By stating that you are sorry that the situation occurred, you can calm an irate parent. Now, it’s just that you need to take control over the situation and provide them the much-needed assurance.