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Handling difficult parents - a teacher’s perspective

For every parent, his/her offspring is the apple of his/her eye. There is nothing that the child can do that is wrong. The parents or so proud of their child that they tend to be blind. Such parents can turn out to be difficult when dealing with the child’s problems in school.

Every teacher has, from time to time to deal with angry or dissatisfied parent/s concerning their children in school. The parent will never believe that his/her son/daughter would be lying when they complain about their teacher. They invariably believe that the fault lies with the teacher. There is another variety. The parent staunchly believes that his child is very talented and if, in the course of selection for a particular event, if the child is not selected then they confront the teacher in the hope that restitution could be made. The child takes advantage of the fact that his parents will believe in him completely. He uses this blind faith his parents have to his advantage and seek revenge on the teacher.

The teacher has to deal with such difficult and meddling parents at some time. Here are some tips to handle such uncomfortable situation.

  • Listen to the parent with full attention and never interrupt. Listen and listen more and have a pleasant face. Let the parent have his/her say completely and after he/she has exhausted his/her argument only then try to answer in a slow and measured tone.
  • Look at the parent squarely in the eye as this indicates that as a teacher you will NOT be intimidated by any pressure tactics and there is nothing they can do to change your mind.
  • Calmly, but firmly explain the reasons and give explanations which led you to take the action you took and the decisions you made which was without any malice or prejudice.
  • Remember, every parent has a right to complaint but it is not necessary for the teacher to be compliant!
  • At times it might be a good idea to put yourself as a teacher in the shoes of the parent to understand the problem. A new perspective may emerge. But never buckle if you are right.
  • If the parent is angry and continues to be vituperative, give the parents some space to calm down. Leave them alone for some time by giving some excuse to go out. This may help them calm down a bit.
  • Enlist the co-operation of the parent to arrive at a solution if that is possible at all. This will give them a sense of accomplishment.
  • If after all your efforts the parent continues to tirade, the only solution is to be silent. Just look at the parent keenly, turn around and walk away. The problem can be tackled by some other means later on..

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