As a tutor or a teacher, you will inevitably come across students of all ages, traits and learning styles.
Each student will take on your classes differently, and some may not be as receptive to your teachings. However, it’s not just the students you have to deal with. You also have to deal with the parents who will hire you to help their children to be better.
This is a part of your job as a tutor.
While some parents will let you do your magic with their students, some parents want to know everything about their child’s education. These parents can get too much for tutors and they are often called by many as “helicopter parents.” So, what do you do to handle these parents?
Here are ways on how you can deal effectively with helicopter parents:
Understanding these parents’ motivation
The motivation of many helicopter parents mostly focuses on their need to stay in control of everything.
They want to be involved with everything their children do because they believe it is a great way to show their love. While this is alright, too much attention by parents on a child’s academic performance causes pressures that some children may not be able to handle.
As tutors, we must remember that while these actions can be quite counterproductive, we must understand that these parents are just doing their creed very seriously. They wish to give their children everything they could to succeed in life because if they don’t, these children might fail.
Find ways to educate parents on its effects
Children won’t be able to tell their parents directly that their behaviour is too much. They will be scared with their reaction and fear it will cause their parents to put more pressure on them. Some may not even be able to tell that their parents are becoming too much because they got used to it.
As a tutor, you will be able to tell if a parent will listen to your position about them being too involved in their children’s life. If they continue to hover behind their children and not allow them to make mistakes or experience failure, it will only disable them from being able to cope into the various challenges life throws at them. These children will also be prone to stress, anxiety and unable to make their own choices and decisions thus ruining their confidence.
When you speak to these parents, try to make sure you don’t accuse them of being “helicopter parents.” You should also make sure you don’t cause them to become defensive.
Remember, these parents just want the best for their children but their actions must be moderated. Speak to them calmly and give suggestions about how they can still help their kids with their studies without causing their children stress. You can also talk about the issue indirectly by telling them your concerns about the child’s performance and their actions.
Be clear in your communication with them
Before you take on a student, you need to ensure you discuss terms with the parents about how the sessions will go. You can take this time to tell them how you will update them about their child’s progress.
This reduces the impulse of these parents to contact you constantly about their child’s progress. It will also reassure them that you know what you are doing and that they can leave their children in your safe hands when it comes to education.
Make sure you tell them how your session works, how you will test the child’s progress and what you expect these children to do at the end of each session.
You can also schedule regular meetings with them to discuss where their child needs more help and ask them about their concerns and try to reassure them that you will be able to help.
Create boundaries – and stick to them
As a tutor, you are handling quite a lot of students. You have a packed schedule from morning till night and every second you deviate from your schedule can be quite costly.
For helicopter parents, they won’t think about what their constant messaging and desire to know everything will do to your schedule. When you sort out your schedule, you can put in a special period where you will sort out your emails or calls and reply to them. Anything that goes beyond this time, you will not answer until the next day.
Let these parents know about these “office hours” and give them your work email where they can ask about their child’s progress. It also ensures that you can keep a work-life balance since they won’t always call you for the simplest things. If you don’t keep a balance, you may find yourself being stressed out in order to answer their calls or messages instantly.
Avoid becoming defensive
Finally, when you are speaking to helicopter parents, you need to be very careful about your emotions.
You need to stay professional and not look defensive when you let them know about the effects of their actions. Some parents may accept your reasoning and try to change with your help. Others will be defensive and not take your opinions into account. A few will just ignore you.
You will need to be patient to get your point across to these parents and your students must also show your teaching style works. You need to give them all the facts behind your decisions and explain to them why your teaching style works.
If you sound defensive and uncertain about your style’s effectiveness, it will just give them more reasons to get involved or worse, doubt your capability as a professional tutor.
It is not going to be an easy thing to work with helicopter parents who have a lot of expectations for their child’s education. However, if nothing is done to help them correct their behaviour, it can create the pressure you and your student do not need during your sessions.
Always remember that you and these parents have the same goal and that is to help the children succeed in their studies and help them grow.
Having trouble handling your students’ parents? Here are some articles to help you:
5 Worst Types of Parents and How Tutors Can Respond Accordingly
How to Deal with Rejection from Your Student’s Parents