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2 February

Helping schools manage poor parent behaviour

Submitted by:
Michael Grose
A recent article in The Age, ‘Parents take schoolground bullying to the car park’1 , reports on a growing culture among parents of bullying, intimidation and violence in Sydney’s schools.

Reports of increased conflict at the school gate and nasty interactions between parents on social media are fuelling incidents that can end up with police being called.

So how do schools deal with this issue and are teachers and principals equipped to manage parents’ poor behaviour?

Emotions run high and tensions can peak if parents feel issues of bullying or conflict between children are not being recognised or adequately addressed by the school. Parent meetings can become about emotion rather than calmly addressing their issues or concerns.

High emotions usually precipitate violence so teachers need to exercise good judgement and extreme care when confronted with angry and hostile parents. Importantly, we need to use strategies that relax parents and bring down their emotional levels.

Being able to draw on a rich repertoire of defensive strategies will help principals and teachers stay physically and psychologically safe. A collegiate atmosphere where teachers support each other; regular discussions at staff meeting about handling difficult situations; and regular teacher PD in important people management and communicating skills are more important than ever if teachers and principals are to stay safe, avoid burn-out and enjoy this important vocation.

Help parents with significant parenting concerns

Also many teachers and school leaders are finding that what they thought was a basic meeting with parents about their child’s progress or behaviour shifts significantly when a parent reveals the difficulties they are encountering at home or in their personal life.

It’s important to know the limits of your ability to help and be ready to refer parents on to either professional levels of assistance, or informal support such as family or other parents within the school community. Be mindful of the fact that many vulnerable parents lack social networks and may need special assistance to provide them with the support they need.

Build effective communication and people management skills

At Parentingideas Schools we’ve been helping teachers and principals better manage difficult situations with parents, as well as build stronger partnerships for many years. It’s apparent that those teachers and principals who consciously work at their people management skills are better placed to anticipate and manage difficult situations.

Find out how you can build your teachers abilities to effectively communicate with parents and support your parent school community with up-to-date parenting articles at Parentingideas Schools Find out more

1Parents take schoolground bullying to the car park. (2015, January 24) Retrieved from:

  • communication
  • conflict
  • management
  • parent
  • people
  • schools
  • teachers
  • violence
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