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No matter how wonderful of a teacher you may be, there will be times when you have to deal with angry or upset parents.

Let’s review a few pointers that can help you make the most out of a bad situation. If you stay calm to listen to their concerns and work to find a solution proactively, you may find that repairing your relationship with these parents is possible.

Even if your first instinct is to cry, become defensive, run, and try to avoid the situation, facing it, head-on is usually the best option. Whether the parents have become upset due to a misunderstanding or disagree with your teaching methods, trying to push their concerns to the side will likely worsen the situation. Try to keep these tips in mind the next time you run into an upset parent:

  • DO involve an administrator
  • DO listen to their complaints or concerns with an open mind
  • DON’T become defensive
  • DON’T try to avoid the situation
  • DO work with the parents to come up with a proactive solution to the problem

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Listen to their concerns with an open mind

Make sure that when you are with the parent, you listen to their point of view. If you are silently crafting a response to them in your head, you will likely miss a lot of what they are trying to convey.

Try some active listening techniques such as repeating what they say back to them or confirming their meaning with sentences that start with “What I hear you saying is…”. The point of this conversation is for you, as their child’s teacher, to understand their perspective and hear their concerns. You can tell your side of the story later, but this isn’t the appropriate time.

Maintain an open mine

Let’s face it; it is typically the situation in that parents know their children better than we do. It may indicate a problem if this is not the case. Listen to their perspective and consider it an opportunity to glean additional information about your pupil. An angry parent may be just what you need to find a more successful approach when dealing with a challenging student.

Bring in a third party

If the situation is serious, you may want to include the school psychologist in any conversations. Administrators, such as principals, can also help to diffuse a tense situation. If the parent is especially upset, it is advisable not to meet with them on your own. A group approach can also yield better results when it’s time to start working on a solution.

Don’t ever let the parent think that the school is ganging up on them, and make sure that everyone acts respectfully toward the parents.

Focus on the positive aspects of the situation

If the meeting is about a difficult student, ensure that you let the parents know that you also see their child’s positive attributes. When you make it clear that you also are invested in your child’s academic success, it may help the parent to feel less confrontational, and they may start to let go of their us vs. them outlook.

There may be times when you and a parent clash, and there isn’t any solution available. In such situations, be sure to document any volatile words or actions from the teacher to protect yourself.