When I was studying to be a teacher, I took a great class on how to overcome resistance from students. Most of the techniques involved getting past emotional resistance, and to my surprise, I found those tips worked with adults as well. While this article doesn’t expressly involve working with parents, it’s a great overview of how to deal with angry adults. Don’t tell anyone, but I tend to use these tips to manage conflict with my partner.
Sometimes, I enjoy digging into a deep research paper on education. But when I’m worried about an upcoming conference with a parent I just know will be a problem, I’d much rather have something short and to the point. Don’t give me citations—give me help! That’s why I love this .PDF file. It’s short but packed with great, practical advice for working with difficult parents, like refusing to talk about other students and taking responsibility when I really did make a mistake.
We all know that parent who refused to acknowledge their child is anything other than perfect. Behavior problems are either not serious or someone else’s fault. Sometimes, the parent even blames us! I always hate those conferences, because it’s a weird form of conflict that’s not outwardly recognized as conflict. This resource lists short but specific tips for handling these parents, such as being honest about the misbehavior.
Reframing parents as misguided advocates is a great idea, but sometimes, all of the reframing and positive outlooks in the world won’t help when a parent comes in determined to pick a fight. This article is a bit long, but it comes with great advice on how to handle parents who come in upset and ready to argue. LEAP (Listen, Empathize, Ask, and Problem solve) is so good, I can use it with students to help when they are angry.
I remember my student teaching mostly because of Mr. Wright. He had lost the battle and succumbed to bitterness. Every parent was a nightmare according to him. Thankfully, I knew to be aware of that trap and worked hard to see parents as co-educators, not roadblocks. That’s still a challenge, but this article helps by challenging us to reframe difficult parents as misguided advocates for their kids. The practical advice at the end is great, too.
After teaching for several years and going through countless conferences, I started to notice the same type of angry parent: the one who defends his child for anything and everything, the one refuses to help at home, and so on. That’s why I love this article. Not only did it name types of difficult parents I kept seeing in conferences, it offered clear solutions to use in conferences. The theory is great, but I prefer actions I can take tonight.
One of the more common parental conflicts we have to face as teachers is divorce. But I found it confusing and intimidating dealing with the legal morass that is divorce agreements. I found myself turning to articles like this one because it clearly lays out my legal responsibilities as a teacher of a child of divorce. Once this info is fresh in my head, I know when to stand my ground and when to bend, which helps de-escalate conflicts.