By Teachers, For Teachers
Q: Typically, I have positive relationships with most of the parents in my class, but one mom continually causes me problems. Whenever she makes a request for her son that I can’t or won’t comply with, she literally screams at me. How should I deal with this out-of-control parent?
A: Let’s approach this unreasonable parent like we would an attacking bear. Just roll up in a ball and play dead. Hopefully, she’ll lose interest and roam away to more responsive prey. If that doesn’t work, climb the nearest tree and call animal control for backup.
In all seriousness, my real advice isn’t much different. You cannot allow this behavior, whether it’s with a BD student or a grown woman. The worst thing you could do is yell right back, no matter how tempting or cathartic it may be.
First, make sure you schedule your meetings face-to-face, preferably with another teacher or principal in the room. Make sure you have the support of the principal and that he or she will intervene if necessary. This should create an environment that is much more intimidating to scream and yell. If you have doubts that this tactic will be effective or no one is available, you can even go as far as to openly record your conversations.
This is for your own protection and potentially to show this parent just how she is treating you. She may not even realize she’s gotten out of control.
If it does degenerate to an unreasonable level, stay calm. When she pauses or stops, say something along the lines of “Jane, I hear what you are saying, but I cannot continue this conversation until we can express ourselves in a calm, respectful, professional manner.” Honestly tell her that she is making you feel uncomfortable and threatened.
If she still does not adjust her behavior, sternly ask, “What is a better time to reschedule this meeting once we’ve all cooled down?” You don’t leave her an opening to refute your decision. Finally, you can always stand up and exit the room. It is your job to teacher her children, not take her abuse.
Hopefully, these survival skills will help you face the treacherous wilderness of parent-teacher meetings.
How would you deal with this difficult parent? Share your advice in the comments section!