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12 Tips On How to Handle Difficult Parents | Special Education Teachers

Updated: Aug 6

12 Tips for How to Handle Difficult Parents | Special Education Teachers

As a special education teacher, you will likely encounter aggressive and difficult parents during your career. It is important to be prepared for these situations and know how to defuse conflict best and communicate with parents. This blog post will discuss the challenges that can arise with difficult parents and provide tips for resolving conflict and communicating effectively.

Never let a parent bring you to anger, always be professional.

Covered in this article:

  1. What can make parents difficult to work with in special education

  2. How to defuse conflict with difficult parents

  3. 3 tips for building teacher-to-parent rapport

  4. Tips for effective communication with difficult parents

  5. 10 tips for communicating with difficult parents

  6. Additional resources for special education teachers dealing with difficult parents.

What Can Make Parents Difficult to Work Within Special Education

Parents of special education students can be difficult to work with for various reasons. They may feel overwhelmed by their child's needs, frustrated with the school system, or simply not understand what is happening. As a result, they may take out their frustrations on you as the teacher. It is important to remember that these parents are likely just trying to do what is best for their child and that you can help them by being understanding and providing resources.

How to Defuse Conflict with Difficult Parents

You can do a few things to defuse conflict with parents. First, try to build a rapport with them from the beginning. Get to know them and their child so you can better understand their perspective. In addition, be clear and concise when communicating with parents. They may be overwhelmed with information, so give them the most important information upfront. Finally, be prepared to listen and address their concerns calmly and respectfully.

3 Tips For Building Teacher-to-Parent Rapport

  • Be genuine in your interactions with parents. Take an interest in their child and get to know them as a person.

  • Show that you are invested in their child's success. Parents need to know that you care about their children and are working hard to help them succeed.

  • Be available to answer questions and address concerns. Parents will appreciate your openness and willingness to communicate with them.

Effective Communication With Difficult Parents

You can also follow a few tips to ensure effective communication with parents. First, always be professional and courteous, even if the parent is not. Second, avoid using jargon or acronyms that the parent may not understand. Third, keep your cool at all times and refrain from arguing with the parent. And fourth, remember that you are on the same team as the parent – you both want what is best for the child.

10 Tips For Communicating With Difficult Parents

  1. Be Professional: Always remain calm and professional when communicating with parents.

  2. Avoid Arguing: It's important to avoid getting into an argument with a parent. Remain calm and try to see their perspective.

  3. Be Clear and Concise: When communicating with difficult parents, it's important to be clear and concise. Get to the point and avoid using too much technical jargon.

  4. Listen: One of the best ways to communicate effectively with parents is to simply listen to them. Let them share their concerns and really try to understand where they're coming from.

  5. Avoid making assumptions: Don't assume you know what a parent thinks or feels. Instead, ask questions and get clarification.

  6. Put yourself in their shoes: Try to see things from the parent's perspective. They may behave the way they are because they're worried about their child or don't understand what's happening.

  7. Seek common ground: Find areas you can agree on with the parent. This will help build rapport and make it more likely that they'll be open to hearing your perspective.

  8. Be respectful: Even if you don't agree with what a parent is saying, it's important to be respectful of their opinion. Avoid name-calling or put-downs.

  9. Keep an open mind: Be willing to consider the parent's suggestions and feedback, even if you don't agree with them.

  10. Follow up: After meeting with a difficult parent, follow up with them in writing (via email or letter) to confirm what was discussed and any agreed-upon next steps.

By following these tips, you can improve communication with even the most challenging of parents.

3 Professional and Courteous Phrases to Use With a Difficult Parent

  • Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

  • I understand how you feel.

  • Let me see if I can help clarify that for you.

3 Strategies for Teachers to Stay Cool During a Parent Meeting

  • Remind yourself that the parent is likely just trying to do what is best for their child.

  • Focus on your breathing and use calming phrases such as, "I'm listening."

  • Visualize a positive outcome for the meeting.

Additional resources are available if you have difficulty communicating with or managing a difficult parent. You can consult your school's special education department or administrator for guidance.

Invite Someone to Act as a Mediator

Having a principal or department chair present during a meeting with a difficult parent can be helpful for both the parent and the teacher. The administrator can provide the parent support and resources and act as a mediator if needed. Additionally, the administrator can help to ensure that the meeting stays on track and provides a calm and professional atmosphere. This can be especially helpful for the teacher, who may feel overwhelmed or under pressure in such a situation.

Dos and Don'ts When Dealing With Angry Parents


-Acknowledge the parent's feelings.

-Listen to what the parent is saying.

-Try to see things from the parent's perspective.

-Offer solutions or resources that may be helpful.

Do not:

-Argument with the parent.

-Make assumptions about what the parent is thinking or feeling.

-Be disrespectful of the parent's opinion.

-Name-call or use put-downs.

By following these tips, you can improve communication with even the most challenging of parents.

Overwhelmed and need advice?

There are many online resources and support groups available for special education teachers.

Teachers Find Support Through Social Media

As a special education teacher, you may sometimes have stress. Dealing with difficult parents is just one of the challenges you face in your job. You can get additional support and advice by joining a Facebook group specifically for special education teachers.

These groups are filled with experienced educators happy to offer their support and advice. You can also ask questions and get advice about specific situations you are dealing with.

So if you have stress or need some guidance, be sure to check out a special education teacher Facebook group in your niche.

3 Popular Special Education Facebook Communities

  1. Special Education Life Skills

  2. Behavior Support Teachers

  3. Simply Special Community

In conclusion, remember, as a teacher, you will inevitably have to deal with difficult parents. While it can be challenging, there are some strategies you can use to ease the situation. First, it is important to keep your cool. This can be difficult, but it is important to remain calm and professional. Second, try to build the parents'/guardians' trust. This can be done by being open and honest with them and by following through on your commitments.

Third, reach out to the community for support. Some likely other parents and guardians are experiencing similar challenges. Fourth, show the parents/guardians that you care about their child's success. express genuine interest in their child's well-being and offer help and support when needed. Fifth, establish your authority early on. The parents/guardians must see you as the expert in the classroom. Finally, speak with a low voice. This will help diffuse tension and show that you are in control of the situation.

Remember, everyone makes mistakes. If a difficult situation does arise, try to view it as an opportunity to learn and grow. By using these strategies, you can successfully navigate challenges with difficult parents.

Thank you for reading our blog post on effectively communicating with and managing difficult parents of special education students. We hope you found it helpful. If you have any additional questions or want more information, please don't hesitate to comment below or contact us. We're always happy to help!


The Special Education IEP Team.

TeachTastic Teachers


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