How to deal with difficult parents (effective 7 steps)


Emotionally immature parents are a big reason of anxieties for teachers. Dealing with difficult parents is especially hard on the emotionally sensitive child. By taking notice of other people’s reactions, it’s very hard for him/her to stay calm and normal.

They’re (parents) fixated on their immediate demands. They expect others to anticipate their needs first. They undermine their children’s confidence and self-esteem by acting like the child can never do enough to make them happy. Their children become anxiously vigilant as they try to avoid the emotional backlash that comes if they don’t guess correctly what their parent wants.

Be an observer

Emotional detachment is the key to remain at a safe distance with these type of parents.
Reach out first
Be pre-emptive. Reach out with a positive message to start off on the right foot.

Involve them

Ask them to take on an authentic role in the classroom. Ask their opinion. Allow them to have a voice or show leadership.

Don’t judge them, or “handle them.”

Meet them on equal terms. For all of our overly-glorified differences, most people are fundamentally the same. We respond to pain and threats differently and have unique ethical systems, but it’s easy to place yourself above someone even if you think you’re not doing exactly that.

Establish a common ground

An old sales technique. A favorite athletic team–or dislike for a rival team. A personal philosophy. Your own struggle as a person. Something to humanize yourself, and establish the overlap between yourself and the parent.

Focus on the work

This is the opposite of teaching and learning, where you focus on the human being (the student). In conferences and communication with parents, you can both see the child and what’s “best for them” very differently, but academic work has a chance to be more objective. Focus on the work and academic performance, and what you and the parent and siblings and other teachers, etc., can do to support the student in their growth.

Give them reason to see beyond the grade book

It’s easy to look at a grade book and both start and finish the conversation there. If that’s all they see, have a look at your curriculum and instruction, and see if you’ve given them ample opportunity to do otherwise. Talk less about missing work, and more about the promise and possibility of their child. Help them see that the school year is a marathon, not a series of sprints.

Read More, about new teaching methodologies at BEYOND TEACHING.