Setting Boundaries: Tips for Interacting with Problem Parents

Problem parents – you know who they are.  Every year there’s at least one who will not stop calling, e-mailing or dropping by the school to check up on you and her child. As schools introduce new technology to keep parents informed, such as access to student grades online, teacher websites and providing parents with teacher e-mail addresses, it becomes easier for problem parents to overwhelm you. Thankfully, you can keep these parents at bay with a few easy steps.

Parent ConferenceThe “I Need to Know Every Grade Right Now” Parent
When an assignment is due in the morning, this is the parent who wants to know the grade by noon. Nevermind that you’ve had classes to teach and have 100 papers to grade. Keep this type of parent at bay by setting a schedule for grading, updating your grade book and sending home progress reports. If a parent knows you’ll have all assignments graded within a week, update your grade book on Thursdays and send home mini progress reports every Friday, there is no need for the parent to flood your inbox with daily requests for grades or updates on a student’s progress.

The “My Child Says He Never Does Anything in School” Parent
Because the child says he never does anything, naturally you must not be teaching anything. Satisfy these parents by setting up  a website of blog to keep them informed about what’s happening in your classroom. Post daily assignments, digital versions of worksheets and other handouts, PowerPoint presentations and other important documents.

The “You Just Don’t Like My Child” Parent
When a child does not perform well in the classroom or is disciplined in some way, some parents respond with “you just don’t like my child.” Get these parents on your side by giving them positive reports as well as negative reports. It only takes a few seconds to send an e-mail to say Isabella did an awesome job on her project or Taylor contributed a lot to the class that day. Short e-mails like this will help you form positive relationships with parents instead of only contacting them when something bad happens.

No matter what you do, you’re likely to always have a parent who gets on your last nerve, but these strategies will help keep problem parents to a minimum so you’re able to focus on teaching.