As tutors, it can be pretty hard to work with parents who don’t want to listen to you or calm down while you are speaking to them. It can cost you a lot of money if you are unable to appease them and it can affect your business entirely.
Admittedly, having to deal with stressed parents is tricky. However, there are ways to get past this problem and help them ease their stress.
September to October is the National Exam Period
The first thing you need to know when dealing with your student’s parents and their stress is knowing when they become stressed. In this instance, they usually show signs of parental stress during their child’s examination periods.
In Singapore, September to October is the National Examination Period and for parents, it is crucial that their children perform well at this time because it can determine their academic future.
Recognise the signs of parental stress
Aside from knowing when parental stress is at its highest levels, it is important that you look for these warning signs immediately. This will help you prevent a full-blown parental stress attack and calm them immediately.
Some of the signs you need to look for are as follows:
Are the parents starting to become impatient? Are they constantly interrupting every time you speak to them? Are their voices starting to get louder and they are becoming red?
If your answer is yes to some of these questions, don’t become defensive. Always remember that they are likely stressed because their children are about to face an important examination ahead.
Are the parents of your students starting to worry about every single thing about their child’s education? Are they asking “what if” questions?
Some parents may even admit to you that they are feeling nervous about the incoming examinations.
Constant Calling and Checking
Your student’s parents may end up having to call or message you so often and asking about what their child is doing ever so often.
A quick call to set up next session may also turned into an hour of checking their child’s progress even though you have just spoken to them the day before. This may be the classic helicopter parenting symptoms.
Constant berating their kid in front of you
Some parents who are experiencing parental stress may end up being overly demanding and berating their children in front of you if they think that they are not listening to your sessions or doing their best.
Handling and Reassuring Your Parents
When you see these signs on parents, it is important that you calm down and take note of why it is happening.
Here are some tips on how you can help the parents when they are feeling stressed with their child’s incoming examination:
Before you reassure the parents that everything will be ok, always take note of your own feelings. It is important you do this first because you may end up making the situation worse than it is. You should also avoid discounting their feelings and placating them because it will only cause them to worry even further.
By reflecting on the feelings you currently have, you will be able to show to the parents that you are also concerned and understand what they are feeling. You can say words like “It sounds like this discussion is making you nervous” to show that you do understand them.
Be an engaged listener
As a tutor, it is important to always be ready to listen. Even if you think the concerns of the parent isn’t that big of a deal, for them it is a big deal.
When you sit down with them, always look at them straight into the eyes so that they know you are listening. You should also listen to them and not interrupt them as they speak to you.
Ask questions for your own clarification
Some parents can’t identify immediately what is causing them stress even though it is clear to you that they are stressing out. Make it a point to ask questions and clarify the points they are trying to raise to you when you speak with them.
This will help you get an idea on what the problem is all about and show to the parents that you are trying your best to help them with their problem.
It will also give you both a way to put things into perspective and find ways to help the child during this stressful period.
Give them as much information as possible
Some parents often stress out regarding their child’s academic progress because they have no visual evidence that they will be able to do well.
You can sit down with them and show them their child’s mock test results and all the things they need to see their child’s academic preparedness for the test. You can also explain to them the efforts you are doing to improve their child’s performance in the subjects they find hard to work on.
You can also offer them other solutions to help with their child as they enter the exam period. You can tell them you will be increasing their lesson time or changing their lesson plan to focus on the weak subjects first.
You can even get them to help you implement some changes in the child’s preparations after your tutorial sessions are over or introducing useful podcasts like these.
Remember that we’re all human
Stress is something each person feels and as a tutor, it is crucial that we understand that we are all human. We are all bound to make mistakes, feel stressed and may end up blowing up when everything gets too much. Understanding this will allow us to find ways to diffuse any tension between you and your student’s parents without increasing the tensions further. It will also reduce the chances of them stressing out even more.
Remember, always be patient with them and show that you understand where they are coming from. Once you do, it will be easy to diffuse their parental stress and help the student focus on their exams without having to worry about their parents fuzzing over them in the process.
Here are some more tips to tackle tutor-parent relationship issues: