Written by Susan Gove, Ph.D. – CEO of Your Center Success
5 Tips for Handling a Difficult Parent in Child Care
Some parents walk through the door and you brace yourself for a challenge. Others are so sweet that you think you could become friends. That’s Day One.
You don’t always know how parents will interact with you on any given day. After all, you are caring for their most precious child.
Here are a few tips on how to handle some of the most common difficult parent situations:
- The parent comes in and wants to carry on a lengthy conversation with you while you are trying to tend to a room full of children.
- The parent is upset because he believes that his daughter is not getting the same attention that all of the other children are getting because the staff member in her group doesn’t like her and he wants his daughter to be put into another area of the center.
TIP: You make sure that you manage his escalating temper and, don’t argue whether he is right or wrong. Assure him that you are sorry to hear about his concern and that you will observe his daughter’s interactions with staff over the next few days and then you and he can talk again. Assure him that his daughter’s success is very important to you.
- The parent is complaining that her child is unhappy about coming to school and cries when he has to get in the car to come to the center. She wants to know what is happening to her son in your center to make him feel this way.
TIP:You show sincere concern and tell her that this is not uncommon, but something that you and she will want to work on together right away. Schedule a time when you can talk together. Tell her that you will do some extra observations of him and talk to other staff members about her son prior to your meeting.
- A parent wants to talk with you; you are uneasy and expect confrontation.
- As hard as we try, we very often judge a book by its cover – or a parent by her appearance/attitude. Bad move.
TIP: You explain that you need to be engaged with all of the children you have in front of you right now and that a good time for the two of you to talk would be (fill in the blank). Be courteous, but speak with conviction.
TIP: Parents just want to know what is going on with their child. They care and they can’t be there with their child, and that is very disconcerting to many parents. The TONE of their question may not really reflect how they feel about the center or you. Listen to the content and skip all of the facial clue and voice tones that you would normally examine. It is your job to talk to parents because their children can’t tell them about their day with any reliability.
TIP: Don’t judge parents. Listen to them. Show that you care about their child almost as much as they do. Show that you have a plan for their child’s success and that you want them to be a part of the process.