4 Types of Parents Every Teacher Has to Deal With And How to Handle Them

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Are you having trouble with some of your students' difficult parents? Here are the four types of parents you're probably dealing with and how to handle them.

Parent-Teacher Relationships

Teachers should be admired for everything they deal with in their challenging profession. Their work is closely observed, judged, and commented upon by students, administrators, fellow teachers, and parents alike, perhaps nobody more so than parents. And who can blame them? Parents just want to make sure that their children are getting the best instruction and treatment possible.

But parental concerns don't make classroom situations any easier on teachers. Dealing with parents is inevitable, but not impossible. Here are our suggestions for how to handle the four types of parents you're guaranteed to encounter in your teaching career.

A helicopter parent who won

Helicopter Parents

Who They Are

The helicopter parents - you know them well - and these moms and dads make sure you know them. They're the first ones to arrive at parent/teacher conferences. They walk their children to the classroom door every morning. They email you on a regular basis inquiring about certain homework assignments or test scores. They keep close track of every single thing that you do in the classroom, and if they don't like it, they'll be sure to tell you.

How to Deal with Them

Be understanding, patient, and confident. Understand that these parents want only the best for their children and that all of their irritating behavior is coming from a good place. Be patient as they continually question your methods and actions. Always have a reason to back up your decisions and you'll never have to search for a response to a helicopter parent. The more confidence and authority you can bring to your conversations with them (in, of course, a respectful way), the more likely they'll be to grow to trust you and back off a little.

Ghost Parents

Who They Are

Ghost parents are the opposite of helicopter parents. These are the parents that you'll probably never see or hear from throughout the entire school year. Their children will have trouble getting signatures on their permission slips and probably won't be brown-bagging their lunches. Unfortunately, the children of ghost parents can potentially fall behind for lack of support at home, and they might suffer from emotional or social issues for the same reason.

A ghost parent

How to Deal with Them

The most important part of dealing with ghost parents is making sure that their children have enough support. Sure, you might be tempted to make a hundred calls home to try and scold ghost parents into being more present in their children's lives, but we all know that's unlikely to get you very far. Instead, try to be a positive influence in these children's lives. Don't be conspicuous about giving these children special attention, but do be attentive to make sure that you're following up on any difficulties they might be having in the classroom. They need it.

''My Child Can Do No Wrong'' Parents

Who They Are

These days, you'll find that it's more and more common for parents to blame teachers, rather than their children, when something goes amiss in their children's education. A bad grade? Must be your fault. Either your instruction was lacking, the test didn't adequately reflect the material, you didn't offer enough study time, or you made a mistake in grading. Anything is possible, other than a low grade being a student's responsibility.

How to Deal with Them

These are perhaps the toughest type of parents to deal with as they're starting from a place of - let's call it what it is - delusion, and you can't do much to convince them that their children might not be perfect angels. Your best move here is to be careful how you frame conversations. If you say anything that sounds even remotely like a criticism of their children, these parents will bristle, become defensive, and fail to actually listen to anything you say.

Instead, be positive and focus on the facts. Instead of saying ''Little Johnny is failing this class because he doesn't turn in his homework and he's disruptive during lessons,'' try something like ''Little Johnny is a great, social kid the other students love to have around, but his gregariousness might be taking his focus away from his studies a bit. He might benefit from some extra hands-on help at home.''

The parent who thinks her child can do no wrong

Hands-Off Parents

Who They Are

These parents think that the best approach is to let their children's education unfold ''naturally.'' They don't keep a close eye on their children's homework or interfere when they see less-than-satisfactory grades. They're not much for strict discipline or rigid rules. As a result, their children can tend to be a bit of a handful in the classroom and have difficulty following your rules.

How to Deal with Them

These parent's children might not be getting a lot of discipline at home, but that shouldn't discourage you from following appropriate disciplinary procedures in the classroom. Treat these students like anybody else, doling out ''tardies'' and detentions in accordance with school policies. If you see a real problem emerging, like a pattern of unexcused absences or missing homework, reach out to the hands-off parents and make sure that they and their children both know what the consequences will be if an issue persists. If worse comes to worst, a failing grade or visit from a truancy officer will be the wake up call these parents need.

Have you dealt with any difficult parents? Tell us all about it on Twitter @studydotcom.

Looking for an online resource to help you supplement your instruction and track your students' progress? Check out Study.com's Teacher Edition.

By Daisy Rogozinsky
September 2018
teachers teacher tips

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