Igniting Critical and Creative Thinking

Parent Communication: 5 Tips for Handling Angry Parent Phone Calls

Parent communication is a big part of our job as teachers. While most of the time, that communication goes well, there are times when we get angry parent phone calls. How we handle those interactions goes a long way in building the parent-teacher relationship. Today I am sharing five practical tips for handling angry parent phone calls.

Parent Communication tips for handling angry parent phone calls

Parent Communication Tip 1: Listen

One of the best ways you can help to diffuse a heated situation is to stop and listen. I’ll be the first to say that this is easier said than done. Our human nature, when someone is yelling at us or accusing us of something, is to speak up and defend ourselves. But this is often seen as interrupting, being defensive, or making excuses.

When an angry parent calls the first thing you should do is listen.

Before speaking up, stop and listen. Allowing the parent to say everything they want to say makes them feel heard. This also opens the door to them being able to listen as you speak.

Taking the time to listen first will pave the way for more positive communication. It will also allow you to know all the issues that need to be addressed.

As I encourage you to pause and listen, please know that this does not include a situation where a parent is screaming, using inappropriate language, or making threats.

In that case, calmly tell the parent you will talk to them when they calm down and let them know you are hanging up. Then document the phone call and your response.

Parent Communication Tip #2: Stay Calm

Don't get in a yelling match with a parent.  Stay calm and professional.

When talking with an angry parent it is important to remember to stay calm. It is important to maintain a professional tone and level of voice, even if the other person is not.

The last thing you want to do is get into a yelling match with a parent. Even if every bone in your body just wants to scream – don’t!

Take a deep breath and keep your composure. Be kind and keep your voice soft.

By staying calm you keep control of yourself and your emotions. This allows you to respond in a productive way that will help you come to a solution.

Parent Communication Tip #3: Accept Responsibility

I’m not saying that parents are always right, but on the occasion where they are, accept responsibility. Be willing to apologize if the situation warrants it. A sincere apology can go a long way toward diffusing the situation.

Parent Communication Tip #4: Problem Solve

After listening to the parent, take a moment to identify the problem or issue the parent has. You can confirm the issue, by repeating the problem or issue back to the parent. Once you are both on the same page as to the issue, start to work toward a solution.

Sometimes parents present us with issues that we can address as the teacher. Increased and/or more detailed communication, advance notice, or a promise of a closer eye at recess are all things we can offer a concerned parent.

An in person meeting is a great way to follow up with an upset parent and make sure the issue has been resolved.

However, at other times we may need to involve an administrator or other campus staff member to help resolve the issue. In this situation, let the parent know who you will be talking to and that you will get back into contact with them – then follow through.

Setting up an in-person meeting is a great way to follow up. It provides an opportunity to lay out a plan and make sure that everyone is on the same page. It is also the perfect time for asking and answering questions.

Sometimes a parent will present their own solution to the problem. Be willing to explore possible solutions brought up by the parent, even if you know they are not likely an option. The parent may not be aware of the legal, financial, or administrative constraints that you are aware of. Just telling them that their idea won’t work often makes them feel as if you don’t care enough to try. Instead, let them know you will look into what they are asking.

Parent Communication Tip #5: Document the Call

Any time you have communication with a parent you should document it. Emails, notes in the folder, and class newsletters are naturally documented because they are in writing. Phone calls should be documented on a communication log, in a notebook, or with a note in the student’s file that you keep.

Make sure to document the phone call

This documentation provides some level of proof of your conversation and could be used to help you recall details of the conversation at a later time.

As a second step, it is always a good idea to keep your administrator in the loop when a parent is upset. Notify them of the situation and explain the steps you have already taken to help resolve the situation. If the parent decides to take the issue to the administration, it won’t be a surprise. By keeping your administrator informed you put them in a position of being able to support you and the steps you have already taken.

Make Parent Communication a Priority

Making parent communication a priority in the classroom will help to lay a solid foundation for the parent-teacher relationship. When the parents know that you have a history of open communication, even the angry phone calls can be resolved in a positive way.

Looking for more ways to improve parent communication? Check out this article on edutopia.com with great tips for responding to parents via email.

Save These Tips!

Make sure to pin this to your favorite classroom Pinterest board so you can come back to these tips when you need them.

Tips for handling angry parent phone calls as a teacher.

Share it:


You might also like...

hey y'all

I'm Susan!

I’m Susan Morrow and I help overwhelmed teachers create thinking classrooms where students discover the joy in learning and achieving.

Search the Blog

Browse by Category

Join thousands of other subscribers to gain access to dozens of free resources.