Professionally responding to a parent’s complaint about your care can be a difficult task. As a child care provider, you love and care for the kids entrusted to you with all your heart and while you’re not perfect, you do your best. When a parent complains over what should be a non-issue or simply provides constructive feedback with helpful intentions, it’s hard to step back from being hurt or defensive and respond professionally and respectfully. Here are some tips that can help.
- Don’t take it personally. This is the hardest thing to do yet it’s the most helpful. Remind yourself that everyone sees things through their own personal lens of ideas, beliefs and experiences. That doesn’t make them right, it’s simply their perception. What seems like a big deal to them might be insignificant to you. What seems like a mistake to them might be something you expect to happen when caring for kids. Others react to our words and actions in ways we don’t understand because their lens is different than ours.
- Acknowledge them. Even if you feel they’re wrong, they’re completely off base, they’re being unfair, or they’re not considering your side of things, start by really listening and acknowledging what they’re saying. Acknowledging their feelings and perspective doesn’t mean you agree with them, or that you would feel the same way in their shoes. It simply says, “I honor your feelings and take on the situation.” Acknowledgment is important because it fills a need we all have; to be seen and heard. Without acknowledgment, you’ll fall into the merry-go-round of them telling you how they feel over and over again without ever getting to the problem-solving stage of the conversation.
- Share your perspective. Once the parent feels heard, they’re (more) ready to hear your side of things. This is the time to give them information they may not currently have, share your thinking and explain the why behind their issue. Your goal isn’t to prove them wrong or change their mind, your goal is to help them see things in a different way.
- Problem-solve. Once both sides have shared their thoughts, concerns and ideas, you can move into collaborative problem-solving. Even when you continue to see things differently, with good intentions on both sides you can find a solution that works for both of you.
It’s hard when someone complains or criticizes, no matter how constructive. However, responding in a professional, respectful way is the key to moving past the issue and finding a shared solution so you can get back to the work of enjoying the kids!