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The Complete Guide for Tutors on Handling Difficult Parents

Trying to educate a child can be rather difficult, but when you add difficult parents to the mix it can become a nightmare.

Most of the parents you encounter in your professional career will treat you with gratitude and respect.

Occasionally every tutor needs to deal with a difficult parent and it is better to be prepared to handle them when the time comes.

Here is a complete guide on how to handle difficult parents, which will hopefully help you smoothly navigate your way throughout your entire tutoring career.


1. Don't try to hide any problems from the parents.

This is perhaps the most important advice that you should keep in mind when dealing with parents who seem to be difficult.

Make sure the child's parent knows about any issues the child has, as soon as you find out about them. Even if the issue is minor or uncomfortable to discuss (for instance a possible learning disability).

By informing the parents about the problems in the beginning of your tutoring session will save you from being accused of bad tutoring practices later on.


2. Tell parents about the child's problem face-to-face.

When discussing the child's problems it is never a good idea to do it over the phone or email.

It makes it seem as if you have a really cavalier attitude towards the problems at hand, and, overall, it makes you look as if you just don't care enough.

When discussing the child's problems face-to-face with the parents you can show them the samples of child's work and point out the exact areas that need to be worked upon.

In addition, it is much easier for a person to be unpleasant and to say mean things over email or phone. If you discuss the child’s problems face-to-face with difficult parents they will try and act more politely.


3. Make sure to show them that you care.

Parents appreciate it when teachers, and especially expensive private tutors, care about their children's progress.

Make sure the parent understands that as somebody who spends their time teaching the child you would also like to see him/her succeed.

If parents realise that you are not in it just for the money and actually want to impart knowledge they will be more amicable towards you.


4. Don't allow the parents to push you around.

Some parents always think that they know better than anybody else when it comes to educating their child.

As a result of this they may ask you to change the methodology you use during your lessons or the study material.

Make sure to politely remind them that you are the one with teaching qualifications and experience, and if they want their child to succeed in learning the subject they need to trust you and trust the method you deem to be appropriate for the situation.

You do not want to gain a reputation of somebody who is easily manipulated by parents.

If the word spreads among your students that you are a pushover this will be the end of your peaceful existence.

But, be careful!

Don’t just stubbornly insist on your way of doing things without any explanation as this may exacerbate the existing problem.

Instead spend several minutes politely explaining to the parent why the methodology you picked is the most appropriate one for their child and will yield the best results.


5. You decide when the conversation is over.

In most cases if you treat difficult parents politely, but firmly and explain to them your plan of action it will be enough to satisfy them (at least for a while) and they will back off.

However, there are those who do not find any type of explanation satisfactory and just keep asking more and more questions.

These types of parents are just being difficult for the sake of being difficult.

They feel that paying you gives them right to harass and berate you with a stream of unnecessary questions.

Remember that you are being paid only to educate the child, and constantly answering the same questions you have
answered before simply wastes your precious billable hours.

So, if you feel that you have explained everything that needed to be explained try to bring the conversation to an end.


6. Always keep your cool.

In rare instances a parent might raise their voice at you, but you must never follow their example as this will accomplish nothing and will only earn you unfavourable reputation.

Calmly ask the parent to lower their voice and remind them that this is not an appropriate way to communicate with a paid professional.

Don't take the yelling personally, it may not even be about you.

The parent may be frustrated by something entirely different and you just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

In this case if you keep talking to them quietly and calmly.
The calm and cool tone of your voice will shake them out of it and make them feel embarrassed for the way they have acted.


In conclusion, don't get upset if a parent is being difficult with you.

It is not a sign that you are bad at your job but rather a demonstration of their character.

Remember, no matter what you choose to do to deal with the difficult parent always do it calmly in a quiet voice.

If the news of you spinning out of control reaches your other clients it may be extremely damaging for your reputation and the future employment prospects.

So be confident in your skills, keep calm and carry on teaching.

Read also:
Things you should avoid doing to build high credibility as a tutor
5 tips on how tutors can prevent coronavirus infection
Top 5 Mistakes That All Tutors should avoid
Tips for Tutors in Singapore to Stay Motivated

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About Author

Tutor City's blog focuses on balancing informative and relevant content, never at the expense of providing an enriching read. 

We want our readers to expand their horizons by learning more and find meaning to what they learn.

Resident author - Mr Wee Ben Sen, has a wealth of experience in crafting articles to provide valuable insights in the field of private education.

Ben Sen has also been running Tutor City, a leading home tuition agency in Singapore since 2010.