Child Care Professional

Coaching Parents to Improve a Child’s Trouble Spot

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It’s great when both you and a parent recognize a specific challenge a child is having (e.g., managing their emotions, breaking into groups on the playground) and work to support change. However, it can be hard to pass along your tips and strategies to parents in a way that doesn’t feel bossy, judgmental, or condescending to them. Even when you have the best intentions, it can be hard for parents to welcome “instructions” on how to work with their child on trouble spots. So how can you share your ideas in a way that’s comfortable for them? Here is a process that can be helpful. 

1. Define the Behavior Challenge in Objective Terms

It’s key you and the parent have the same understanding of the behavior you’re working on, so being able to define it in clear, concise language is the first step. For example, rather than tell a long story about what happened between Marcus and Jack on the playground, you could say, “Marcus is having a hard time taking turns on his favorite playground equipment, and when he has to wait, he’s becoming angry and begins name calling.” By describing what you’re seeing and hearing objectively, the parent can hear the message you’re providing without getting lost in opinions or judgments about their child.

2. Describe What Actions You’re Taking

Rather than tell the parent what they should do or can try, describe what you’re doing. “When this happens, I do/say ______.”  Don’t use child care jargon or a summary statement. Clearly describe the steps in bullet point statements that walk the parent through your response. You could say, “As soon as he realizes he has to wait his turn and before he gets really frustrated and angry, I encourage him to use the breathing and counting tools we’ve been working on.” 

3. Describe the Results

When a parent sees that what you’re doing is having a positive impact, they’re much more likely to try it out on their own time. That’s why it’s important they know step-by-step what you do. They may not immediately jump on the bandwagon; however, when they know the tools and can use them in their own way and at their own pace, the chances are good they’ll try your approach out. For our example above, you might say, “Marcus is doing a great job of counting other things on the playground, like the number of times the ball bounces or the number of times a classmate jumps the rope while he waits for his turn. This makes the time go faster and keeps his frustration from growing.” Make sure you compliment the child’s effort, not just their progress or success. Some kids stall even when trying their best. The success will come.

4. Connect Learning to Big Picture

Everything we teach kids now impacts who they become later in life. A great catalyst for parents to get on board with your approach is to understand how your action plan impacts their child’s development. To wrap up our example, you could say, “These tools are helping him learn patience, self-control, and how to manage tough emotions. All skills he’ll use throughout his life.”

5. Give Parents a Written Narrative

You can quickly describe all of this to parents in an informal conversation, but you should also give it to them in written form so they can refer back to your action plan. A great way to communicate and show progress is through the Rayz Kidz app. Check out our must-have communication features that make this open, transparent communication a breeze.