How Teachers can Cope with Difficult Parents

Teachers need to be content with the fact that parents want the best for their children. However, some parents go overboard in this endeavor.  They become too involved in the academic affairs of their children to a point where they cause conflict with those who are charged with the responsibility of shaping their academic destiny.  In most cases, teachers suffer the wrath of pushy parents who keep on creating new demands and raising the bar unreasonably high.

Understanding that parents demand the best for their children is the first step towards effectively dealing with pushy parents.  Therefore, teachers should, from the onset, make a point of meeting parents so as to try and understand what they expect from them.  As a teacher, try understanding the following from the parents; areas that the child is good at, areas they think the child needs more attention, their child’s ability to relate to other children and superiors alike, whether more attention should be given to extra curricular activities and the child’s attention span.  Let the parents tell you what they think you should do differently.

Keep constant contact with parents.  It is wiser to always contact them any time you notice untoward behavior being displayed by the child.  Waiting for the vice to develop into a full blown problem will only set the stage for a round of quarrels with the parents who expect you to be fully in control.  Pushy parents are like that because they expect to get constant updates of those things that might set their child off the course. They want to be able to tame a problem at the earliest opportunity.

Never argue with a parent.  They know the child better than you do as a teacher.  Whatever they tell you about their child is always ‘right’.  Just listen to them when they offer to enlighten you about their child.  However, the onus is always on a teacher to make correct judgements.  Because they are professional, teachers are expected to trust their instincts as opposed to following blindly the advice of those who are not professionals.

Make it clear to parents from the beginning that your goal, just like theirs, is to get what’s best for the child.  For this reason you should work together and not against each other or from different ends.  The way to do this is to engage the parents as partners in teaching the child.  Ask them to kindly take up the role of a teacher at home and get feed back from them on a regular basis.  Similarly, strive to be a parent to the child while in school.

Parents are human beings and so they do get angry.  In case you encounter an angry parent, try to avoid confrontation.  Let them know that the time is neither right nor is it productive to engage in a fight and that you are wiling to speak to them later on.  Schedule an appointment and promise to get to the root of the problem before your next meeting.  Sometimes it pays to just remain calm and walk away from a confrontational situation.

When you walk away from a potentially explosive situation with a pushy parent, make sure that you follow up the matter through writing.  Letters are a perfect way of delaying with such parents.  The good thing about writing it down is that you can explain yourself in an uninterrupted way.  You can also use letters to schedule a meeting at a later date.  However, make sure that the letters reach the parents in the shortest time possible.

If a pushy parent becomes difficult to handle always use intermediaries, third parties or close relatives to try and find a common ground.  This is the most professional way of dealing with them.  Make sure that no matter what you do, avoid blowing a situation out of context.