When you notice that a child is experiencing a period of stress, the first thing you want to do is discuss it with the child’s parents. This conversation can be challenging, as content can be misunderstood on both sides.
These 5 strategies will help you facilitate a productive conversation about a child’s stress:
1. Begin With Strategies
When parents are called to a discussion, they may experience uncertainty or even fear. Approaching them with examples of strategies you have already used and others you are planning to try will demonstrate your proactive stance. Guide the conversation while making it clear you will incorporate their input.
2. Explore Child’s Perspective
Dealing with a stressed child can be upsetting, and the conversation between parents and educators may veer off topic. Focus on working together to understand the child’s perspective to prevent unnecessary digressions and reduce tension.
3. Partner With Parents
Connect with parents using ‘I’ statements to help them understand that you are on their side. Parents may feel judged or even attacked, so it is essential to create a sense of trust and define a working partnership.
4. Brainstorm Together
Work with parents to brainstorm about their child’s stress. Share your observations and ideas, while making sure to ask for the parents’ feelings and beliefs about the situation. Ask about effective strategies they use at home with their child.
5. Check In Consistently
The initial conversation with parents about a child’s stress may leave everyone feeling unsure about how to proceed. Check in regularly with parents about the child’s progress. This will enhance communication and cooperation.
Having difficult conversations with parents does not have to be uncomfortable. Focus on connecting and working together for the child’s benefit and overall mental health.