By Teachers, For Teachers
Dealing with angry parents can feel like an uphill battle. Your job as a teacher is to educate children, yet you’re sitting in a classroom feeling like a punching bag as parents let loose on you. You’re probably thinking that these kinds of outbursts are not what you up signed for and frankly, you want no part of it. It’s understandable to feel this way, because some parents can be really intimidating: All you’re trying to do is your job, then you have to deal with these angry outbursts. It can rattle you, which can lead to teacher burnout. Luckily, many teachers have already gone through the wringer with these types of parents, and know just how to use classroom management skills deal with them. Here are a few classroom management tips from veteran teachers to help you learn how to keep your cool and manage these angry parents.
The number one best thing that you can do when you are dealing with angry parents is to stay calm and keep your cool. While staying calm when someone is yelling at you can be prove to be difficult, it’s also essential. The best way to stay calm and in control of the situation is to develop a relaxation response. This is when you find something that will quickly calm you down when you are in a distressing situation. This can be taking a couple of deep breaths, squeezing a stress ball, or pacing back and forth. The goal is to find something that you know will work for you whenever you feel stressed.
When you feel the conversation with a parent has taken a turn for the worse, whether you are on the phone or in person, you have the right to abruptly cut it off. While ending the conversation may feel like the wrong thing to do because nothing will get solved, it’s also the best thing to do for that moment. Tell the parent, “I’m ending this conversation and we’ll pick it up at a later date when everyone is calm.” Then if you feel that you still need assistance for your next conversation, you can ask a fellow colleague, the guidance counselor, or an administrator to join you.
If you feel that you are in an uncomfortable situation with a parent, then try and talk about how they are making you feel. Sometimes, the angry parent doesn’t even realize that they have lost control of their temper and all they need is for someone to tell them, “Your yelling is making me feel uncomfortable.”
Sometimes it’s just out of your hands. You can’t reason with someone who is yelling and screaming at you. What you can do is stay in control of your own emotions, and know when your words are no longer serving a purpose. You can give the parent a choice and a consequence. The choice is to talk to you in a respectful way, and the consequence is that if they do, you will continue the conversation to find a resolution to the problem.
It’s said that if you speak softly when someone is yelling at you, it will distract the yeller from what they were even upset about. When you speak quietly, they will try and listen to what you are trying to say, which in turn will help to calm down their voice. So the next time you encounter an angry parent, speak with a small voice.
If you notice that more than one parent tends to yell and get angry with you, then it may be time to create a parent code of conduct. These are guidelines that are written out and sent to all the parents in the classroom. Many youth sports teams make their parents sign one, so why not have one in school too? Here are some guideline suggestions for what should not be done.
In short, managing angry parents will take some willpower and a lot of patience. Remember to always remain cool, calm, and collected -- then everything will work out.
Do you have any classroom management tips on dealing with angry parents? What kinds of things help you? Feel free to share your thoughts and remarks on this topic in the comment section below, we’d love to hear from you.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.