When you trained to become a teacher or started out in nursery, you probably learnt everything there was to know about dealing with children; from learning difficulties to behavioural problems. You probably didn't prepare for the fact that when you take on a class of 20 children; you’re also taking on roughly double the number of parents.
And not all of them are the flowers and chocolates-bearing sort.
If you’ve got a few difficult parents on your hands at nursery or primary school, here are 5 tips to help you manage them.
1. Hear them Out
Whether they’re annoyed about an incident at school or they aren’t taking their own duties seriously, listen to what they have to say, however frustrating you might find them. Not only will you be showing empathy towards their situation, but hearing them out will help you find the best way to tackle the issues that are making them ‘difficult’ in the first place.
2. Arrange a Meeting
Few positive outcomes have been achieved at the school gates. To get to the bottom of an issue, it’s important that the parent has your full attention (and vice versa!). So if they are trying to catch you in a hurry to a meeting, arrange a convenient time for both of you to talk about things privately.
3. Stay Calm
They might be throwing colourful insults your way, or saying as much with their body language, but don’t rise to their level if dealing with abusive or rude parents. In fact, sometimes the most ‘difficult’ Mums and Dads are the most enthusiastic ones, who want to challenge and interfere with your teaching. Stay calm, stand your ground and remember who’s in charge of the curriculum.
4. Don’t Get Over-Involved
Issues at home can have a big impact on a child’s progress at nursery or school, and whilst it’s important to be aware of these and understand them, avoid being made a mug of. You don’t get paid overtime to look after their child when all the others have gone home, nor are you a professional counsellor. So choose an appropriate time to draw the line and avoid getting more involved than you need to be.
5. Brush it Off
You didn’t exactly sign up to needy, rude, troubled or in-your-face parents, but it does unfortunately come with the territory. Whatever makes them less than perfect, remember to never take their words or actions personally. And when Friday comes around you can always laugh it off with your partner over a glass of wine. After all, you’re the one bringing up 20+ children at a time – few parents can compete with that.
Every teacher and nursery manager will have to deal with challenging parents at least once, if not on a regular basis. These simple but effective tips will stop you bubbling up with frustration during the weekends, and help you brush it off at the weekend.