Challenging Situations-Parents who are too involved

Yes, you read that right. What do you do if a parent is too involved? What I am actually talking about stemmed from a conversation I had this week. A teacher told me about a parent who wanted a call every time that their child hit, kicked, or misbehaved in any way. If she came to pick up the child and heard about any incident in the day that she didn't get a call from, she got very upset. So what's a teacher to do?

Well, we are advocates for the children as well. What I always tell any parent is this: what happens at school, stays at school (and vise versa).

What I mean is, don't come to school and tell me your child can't ride bikes because he wasn't listening to you this morning. What I also mean is, I am not going to tell you everything your child did because we will have dealt with the discipline at school already. We know that children' must be disciplined immediately following an incident; you can't wait four hours and then punish them. First off, that's not teaching them anything but to be on their toes because you never know when something is going to come back to haunt you. Second (and most important) they have already forgotten what they did to get in trouble.

If I am having a problem that I do need parents to reiterate the respect that a child should have for their teachers, I tell the parents to deal with it at school. "When you leave the building, the problems stay in the building." This makes home a happy place; a place they want to be. Not a place that all their troubles of the day is going to haunt them.

If they really feel they must run in, get their child, and don't have time to deal with anything (conversation) except on the way home, I suggest they pick a corner halfway home. From that corner (the one with this gas station at it for example) there is no more talk of school.

The other thing is that the parent has to trust that you can handle the problems children have. If a parent doesn't trust that you know what you are doing, they will ask for a call every time their child does something wrong. Build up that relationship. The best way to do this is to NOT tell the parent every situation their child got into.

A better way to handle this is, when the parent comes in, say something like this, "He had a rough start in the morning, but we talked and we helped him through it and then he had a much better afternoon. He sat at circle and even helped me set the table for lunch!" This way the parent is aware that there were some problems, but that it wasn't anything you couldn't deal with. It works the same if the afternoon was the more difficult, "Well, he has been having a rough afternoon, maybe the last hour or so, but this morning he was such a great helper! He may just be ready for a break from this busy classroom."

Another, and probably most important point: Many parents who want (feel the need) to know every bad thing their child do, probably goes home and punishes the child to no end. Maybe he doesn't get dessert, get to watch a movie, or worse (I don't even want to think about the worse, you can figure out what that is, I've been there and seen it). You are the child's advocate. You already dealt with the trouble and discipline. He's "done his time". He doesn't need to be punished further.

If a parent is insistent that they get that phone call, here's my suggestion: Inform them that if they want a call every time he misbehaves, you will also call him every time he does something wonderful...and that will be even more times than there are minutes in the day.

Get the point across that they don't need to be informed of those few (less than 5% of the day) times that his developmentally appropriate impulse control issues come out. They only need to know what we can't handle. And if they would like some assistance helping at home, you are there to help them.

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