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Tutor’s Survival Guide for Dealing with Difficult Parents

Dealing with difficult parents can be a nightmare for tutors. Although they are only being difficult because they want what is best for their children, their demands can be too much. Sometimes, they will keep complaining even if you are doing everything you can.

How can you handle these parents? Here is a quick survival guide that can help you handle difficult parents:

Stopping conflicts before it starts

Before trouble brews and causes issues, try nipping it in the bud immediately. Here are some ways you can do it without causing parents to worry:

Establish expectations upfront

Before you begin your session with your prospective student, let the parents know how the tutoring will go.

I like to explain to them how I will teach the child, what goals I intend to reach and what they can expect after each session. This will help the parents reassured that their concerns will be addressed as I tutor their child.

You can also walk them through the timeline with the help of the student’s syllabus and update them regularly. Parents who are always informed at every session will believe that you are doing everything to help their child out.

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Invite them to join you in your first tutoring session

This is my secret tip. I always invite the parents to sit in during the first tutor session.

You can let parents see your teaching style by getting them to watch your tutoring session with their child. This will give them an idea of how you will help the student with their classes as the sessions progress.

If your student finds this unnerving, you can ask the parent to watch from afar or give them access to the child’s activities by showing them their worksheets. If the parent isn’t always at home, share photos or videos of the session.

Nurture your partnership with parents

Finally, you should try to build a partnership with the parent even if they are difficult at times.

You can start this off by introducing yourself to the parent, giving updates about the child’s progress and how proud you are about them. Keep them updated as much as possible so they are always kept abreast of their child’s progress.

This will definitely a plus in the parent’s book and trust you better.

Resolving conflicts when it happens

Even if you are following everything in the book, there will be parents that won’t be satisfied with everything you say or do. If this happens to you, here are some tips you can follow to get things back in order:


Before you try sorting out the problem with the parent, listen to their complaints first. Sometimes, these difficult parents may have spotted some things we missed and we can use it to improve our teaching style.

If they are complaining about things you already corrected, don’t try to interrupt them if they start ranting at you. Doing this will let the parent know that you respect their criticisms and won’t hush it down.

Recognize their concerns and talk about it

When they finished talking, acknowledge what their concerns are and offer what suggestions you can provide.

While some of their concerns are minor and can be corrected with minor changes, acknowledging their comment is important.

This will show that you listened to them and do what is necessary to get back on track.

Always have evidence ready

If the parent is complaining on behalf of their child who may have had a bad experience in one of your sessions or still failed to make the cut, make sure to have proof to support your side of the issue.

It could be your student’s worksheets, text message threads sent by the student or the parent or the extra days you clocked in to help the child.

Difficult parents often jump to conclusions when they hear one single issue about their child’s experience. By providing evidence, you can provide parents with the other side of the story and address their worries.

Stay professional

Even if you are getting annoyed or hurt by the complaints, remember to stay professional. Difficult parents will no doubt complain, make claims that aren’t true and threaten to fire you.

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However, if you know that you are doing everything that you can, these complaints should not be taken personally. They are worried for their children’s sake but if you talk back and retaliate, they will definitely pull through with their threats.

Stay cool and if they are going too personal, you can end the discussion. When this happens, don’t react and keep your voice cool if they ask for your response.

Don’t judge

If the complaints are getting too much for you, it can be tempting to blame the parent or the child for what is going on. You can even be tempted to avoid or ignore the parent’s rambling.

However, by not being judgemental, you can stay cool even if everything is spiralling out of control. If you blame the child or the parent, you will appear unprofessional.

These parents are just acting like that because they think something is wrong based on their experience.

Keep the lines of communication open

Some difficult parents can be pacified if you give them a way to stay connected with you regarding their child’s learning. Let them know that you are actively checking the child’s progress and will keep the parents updated if things happen.

When you do meet a problem with a difficult parent, don’t avoid them because it will only cause more problems in the long run. Stay open for these parents to talk to you and stay calm when they reach out to you.

Stay cool and not lose your groove

As a tutor, we don’t just deal with students with different behaviours and talents. We also deal with difficult parents.

If you find it difficult to handle difficult parents, we hope that our guide can help you deal with these parents and keep you in your game.

These parents have the goal as you to help the student do better in school. If you end up arguing with these parents, you will be unable to help out your student at all.

For better tips on how to communicate with your students’ parents, here are some articles to help you:

How to Deal with Rejection from Your Student’s Parents
5 Worst Types of Parents and How Tutors Can Respond Accordingly

Rum Tan

Rum Tan is the founder of SmileTutor and he believes that every child deserves a smile. Motivated by this belief and passion, he works hard day & night with his team to maintain the most trustworthy source of home tutors in Singapore. In his free time, he writes articles hoping to educate, enlighten, and empower parents, students, and tutors. You may try out his free home tutoring services via or by calling 6266 4475 directly today.