“They don’t listen to us,” many a staff has told me when we discuss conversations with parents. It is a constant refrain among early childhood center directors. I teach about the ins and outs of requesting evaluation of early childhood students. Most attendees at these sessions agree that the most difficult part is when parents don’t listen. I teach about young children whose behavior we find challenging. Again, teachers and school directors bemoan the fact that they try to tell parents how to teach about behavior but they don’t listen.
“What do you do when the parents simply won’t listen?” a training attendee asked again just last week.
I answered, “I understand that they are not required to take my advice.”
The staff stared at me as most groups do when I say that. I say it without a “but” – without anywhere to go from there. I have stated one of the most difficult truths of being an early childhood educator – you cannot control the parents and you cannot force them into action.
I continued to explain that these are their children, not mine. I care about them. If I did not, then I don’t belong in a classroom, particularly an early childhood classroom where my every action and reaction forms a part of the children’s foundation. I care very much and I really want what is best for all of the students. I am, however, not their parent. Their parents have every right to refuse.
In the end, we have to accept that although we may have knowledge, we do not know the full picture of their family life. I may know the signs or have proven methods, but it is the parents’ decision how to raise their own children. If I have kindly and with compassion stated my observations and advice, I have done all I can do.
I can wait a while and inquire again (note I said inquire – ask – and not state). Sometimes, all that is left is compassion. If a child is eventually diagnosed with learning or behavioral challenges or if reasonable boundaries of behavior are not taught, the parents will have a long road ahead. But again – they are making a choice. It is their choice to make.
As you head into a summer session or the new school year, make this your mantra – it is realistic and factual – “I will do my best to communicate clearly, with kindness and compassion. Sometimes, that is all I can do.”
You can learn so much more from me online!
“Helping Preschools Achieve with Cynthia Terebush” – An Online Learning and Support Community for Early Childhood Professionals. Now with individual memberships and staff bundles. Check out my informational video HERE and go to Helping Preschools Achieve for more details.
And in person….
Go to my full website for information about webinars, presentations and individual consulting for parents and educators -Helping Kids Achieve.
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