What to Do When a Parent Misbehaves

Many teachers have discipline challenges not only with students, but also with the parents. In such cases, the parent of the misbehaving child may become rude or downright hostile when you, the teacher, explain that their “little angel” has discipline issues at school. What can you do when parents misbehave and are in need of some discipline themselves?

First, stay calm. Remember that you are being paid to teach the child, not the parents. It is a sad fact of life today that too many parents are confrontational rather than supportive. If you find yourself in a situation where a parent is getting enraged or offended because you are discussing discipline issues regarding their child, ask the parent, “What do you suggest we do about the situation?” If the parent goes on a rampage, say, “I understand, but what do you suggest?”

Remember the person who asks the question controls the conversation.

If the student is present, turn to him or her and say, “This behavior is unacceptable.” Then say, “What do you suggest we do about it?” Keep asking, “What else?” “What else?” until a satisfactory solution is elicited. Let the student know that what he or she does outside of school is his/her business, but what he/she does in school is yours. Only levels C or D are acceptable, and if he/she does not behave at these levels he/she will own the consequence because he/she will choose it.

Finally, review the information “Classroom Meetings” at http://marvinmarshall.com/files/pdf/Classroom_Meetings_Chapter.pdf Put the problem on the table. Any child’s behavior and discipline issue is the class’s problem too. If the parent won’t help, let fellow students come up with some suggestions—with the misbehaving child present. Students hearing their peers is far more powerful than being told by an adult. Chronically misbehaving students needs some “emotional intelligence.” Their classmates can definitely help.