One of the more stressful aspects of teaching is dealing with pushy parents. Teachers easily see the comments and actions of the parents as a threat and develop a defensive posture. There are several techniques that teachers can use to deal with pushy parents.
Understand parents are advocates
Parents see themselves as advocates for their children and rightfully so. If they do not advocate for their children, who will? So do not immediately see the position the parents are pushing for to be a negative. The teacher should imagine being in the parent’s situation and be understanding. By taking an understanding approach the parent and the teacher are less likely to become adversaries.
Give the parents what they want
The fastest way to diffuse parents who are pushy is to actually concede to their wishes. While it may seem to teachers that they should fight to the death for their own position, teachers need to really consider that it may not be worth that fight. It is the old idea of don’t sweat the small stuff. If the issue the parents are pushing about can be resolved by allowing them their wishes and there is no real consequence, consider just saying yes to the demands.
Ignore the demand
Sometimes if a parent is being overly pushy and is repetitive offender of not allowing things to pass, sometimes the best answer is to ignore the demand for a day or two. One of two things will happen. Either the parents will decide it wasn’t that important or they will extend another phone call, email, or visit. Sometimes parents just need to vent their concerns and then they will let the problem pass.
Have a partner
If parents are repetitively pushy, consider meeting with them with a partner. Find a teacher, co-worker, or administrator that will set in on meetings or phone calls. Sometimes adding an objective third party can resolve the situation.
Another good way to deal with pushy parents is to provide choices on matters. This allows parents who like to be exceedingly pushy to feel that they are in charge and control. Provide the parent with options for the situation and then allow them to choose how things proceed. Make sure that you as a teacher are accepting of all the options being presented though.
Parents who are particularly pushy may feel that they know more about the situation than they do in reality. Ask the question questions about why they feel the way they do or how they would like to proceed. Often when it is left to the parent to come up with solutions they discover that they may not have had all the answers and they reduce the level of pushiness.
Welcome the pushiness
While the connotation with pushy is that it is a negative quality, it is the job of the teacher to turn the negative into a positive. These are often the parents that can be given the responsibility for planning events or activities. If the pushy parent is in charge of the Valentine’s Day party, this parent is less like to be unhappy or complaining. Steer the pushy parent in the right direction for a better solution.
Don’t be defensive
Tell the pushy parent that you appreciate their concern or inquiry. Do not get defensive of your decisions or actions. Instead always start with a positive tone and appreciation of their interest in their child’s education.
Deal with them with comfortable
Try not to deal with a pushy parent during a time of stress, even if the parent wants the teacher’s attention at that time. Do not allow parents to take you away from class, completing required tasks, or keeping you late. It is far better to ask the parent to set up a time for an appointment. This allows the teacher time to prepare for the meeting and there will be less likelihood of being taken unaware.
Pushy parents are part of the profession. This can easily be handled in a professional and positive manner that leaves both the parent and the teacher happy with the result.