Disagreements with parents are inevitable.  As a teacher, you need to be ready to handle disagreements with parents calmly.  As you probably know, having positive relationships with parents and families can improve your relationship with your students and the effectiveness of your teaching.  In addition, the support of families can make a HUGE difference in your students’ education.  One key factor in maintaining good relationships with families is how you handle disagreements with parents.  If you handle disagreements with parents well, it is totally possible to maintain a positive relationship with them afterwards (I know this from personal experience!).  Continue reading to find out what you can do to effectively handle disagreements with parents.

Stay Calm

Staying calm during disagreements with parents is SO important!  Parents can be very emotional when it comes to their children (I know I am about my daughter AND have witnessed it as a teacher).  Most likely, parents will not be calm when they come to you with a problem or complaint.  Therefore, it is extra important for you to remain calm and professional, no matter how the parent behaves.  After all, you are the teacher and the professional – you need to act like it.  (I know this is easier said than done, but it really is important!). Also, oftentimes your demeanor will rub off on the other person in a conversation or argument.  So, if you stay calm, the parent may calm down as the conversation continues, which will benefit both of you.

In addition, you do not want to say something in the heat of the moment that you will later regret.  Angry, emotional words could irreparably damage your relationship with the parent, which in turn would be harmful to the child.  By staying calm, you keep control of the conversation and prevent damage to the relationship.  Your goal for the conversation should be to resolve the issue, and that will be much easier if you remain calm instead of being carried away by emotions (which is easy to do, but so not helpful!).

Assume Good Intentions

Most parents only want what is best for their kid.  When a parent comes to you with an issue, assume that he or she has good intentions (which is almost always the case).  The parent is not trying to cause you problems, attack you personally, or criticize your competence as a teacher.  If you can keep that in mind, it will be easier for you to focus on solving the problem rather than getting upset.

For example, I once had a parent tell me that I was always blaming their child for negative behavior in the classroom and that she felt like I did not like her child.  Now, I could have reacted by getting offended and thinking she wanted to attack me personally.  Instead, I assumed that she just wanted her child to feel accepted and loved in the classroom.  With that in mind, I was able to have a conversation with her about her child’s behavior and come up with ways to make him feel more valued in the classroom.  As a result of the conversation, I was able to improve the boy’s experience in the classroom, his behavior actually did improve, and the mom and I maintained a positive relationship.  That’s what I call a win-win situation!

Focus on What Is Best for the Child

This is the best advice I have heard (and followed!) when it comes to resolving disagreements with parents.  Both teachers and parents want what is best for the child.  If you (and hopefully the parent as well) can focus on doing what is best for your student, it will make your interactions, and even disagreements, with parents so much easier.   For example, you could say, “I know we both want what is best for ____________, so…”, then continue with your suggestions about how to resolve the issue.  This is a great way to show that you are on the same team as the parent, since you are both working towards the same goal – the best education possible for their child!

Resolve Disagreements with Parents

The goal for any conversation that involves disagreements with parents should be to resolve the issues the parent has.  This means that you should focus on addressing the problems in a way that responds to the parents concerns, is manageable for you to implement, and is best for the child.  If you follow these few rules, you will become a pro at handling disagreements with parents effectively!

Do you have any other advice about how to handle disagreements with parents?  If so, leave comment below!  Also, if you have any other questions, feel free to send me an email here.