Whether you are a seasoned tutor with years of experience under your belt or entirely new to the field, managing confrontational or hostile parents can be a nightmare. Unfortunately, it’s an unavoidable part of the job for private tutors of all levels.
The reality is – as much as tutors in Singapore are encouraged to form open relationships with parents, it can quickly become overbearing when parents are not easy to relate to or communicate with. Despite that, it’s important to recognise that navigating parental engagement is a part of the job. Hence, it’s imperative for tutors to learn how to tackle parental relationships head-on instead of shying away when parents stomp through your tuition doors with clenched jaws. Here are a few essential tips to help you manage parent-teacher conflicts.
Keep your cool
This is the most important first step. No matter what the situation is, always remind yourself that you are a professional and the way you deal with difficult situations must reflect your professionalism.
That means that when you’re speaking with parents, never lose control of your emotions even if your heart is beating a mile a minute. Instead, always approach the conversation with diplomacy. If you maintain your decorum, then there’s less likelihood of the issue escalating out of hand.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t politely let them know the limits and boundaries.
Recognise their concerns & show you care
More often than not, parents in Singapore show up in high dudgeon because they care so much about their child. As a private tutor, it’s important to let them know that you’re equally concerned about their child’s wellbeing. The best way to do so is to acknowledge their concerns before offering your suggestions – this makes them feel that their complaint is being heard.
While it’s easy to get defensive when you feel like parents are questioning your ability as a tutor, try seeing things from their perspective and be empathetic. We recommend using phrases such as “I am so sorry that happened” or “I can see why you’re upset”.
Put on your listening ears
Sometimes when a parent is frustrated, all they need is a good listener.
Often, parents simply want to be heard, so give them the floor to air their grievances and concerns. If you prioritise their feelings and listen first, they’ll be more receptive to listen to what you have to say after they’ve finished. Remember, always avoid cutting in their speech.
Remind yourself that this is not about you
Always remind yourself that there’s nothing you can do to keep every parent happy all the time, and it’s likely not personal. If they’re upset, it’s because they’re concerned about their child. Internalise it, do your best to put your personal feelings aside, and remind yourself that you have the same goal as they do – to empower their children. Your student’s education and wellbeing should always be at the forefront of your concern.
Help them understand your stance
Once you’ve made sure that you’ve listened to all their concerns, gracefully help them understand your thought process. Give them simple and easy-to-digest examples of why a particular methodology might be best for their child – even if they know of another child who is learning in a different way. Framing everything in the context of their child’s interest works best.
Lastly, just be honest and transparent while reassuring them that you’ve got everything taken into consideration as a professional private tutor.
In the end, it all comes down to communication. With preparation and perspective, you can better manage difficult parents.