Supporting Parents or Grandparents whose child is out of control

Your Question:

“How can I deal with some parents or grandparents who don’t discipline or guide their children?”

The Issues:

Today’s parents or grandparents may be easily offended by anyone who challenges their parenting style. We must be careful to not make any comments or suggestions that may be “universal” about their parenting. It is more effective to say things like, “Your child really responded well to ______” in the hopes that the parent or grandparent might be interested in suggestions from you.

Scripture Foundation:

“That sFathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”  Ephesians 6:4

Short Answer:

Parents or grandparents who seemingly let their children be “out of control,” may do so for many reasons. It is important for us in CM to not judge those reasons too quickly. An “out of control” child may be raised by and “out of control” parent or grandparent, or the child may be “out of control” because the parent or grandparent employs a purposeful philosophy that focuses on giving the child as much freedom as possible. Your definition of “out of control” may be distinctly different from the parent or grandparent’s. Sometimes, it is more effective to clarify the classroom standards rather than criticize the parent or grandparent’s discipline style. It is usually true that an “out of control” child is able to operate within the classroom standards in school, and yet he/she views the CM as a less controlled environment. Children sense very quickly whether the learning environment and/or adult personnel (teachers) is structured with strong standards. Instead of placing the “blame” for an “out of control” child on the parents or grandparents, it is a good practice to consider your own classroom management techniques first. Is there a reason that this child is “out of control” because he/she perceived that the teacher or environment is “loose” or unstructured? An “out of control” child should drive the CM team to evaluate the “feeling tone” of the ministry environment and classroom management process. If you believe that the classroom environment is managed well, then you might begin interacting with the parents on a very low-key level. During check-out (not check-in), ask the parent or grandparent for suggestions regarding the child. Asking for help first, before making critical comments is always a good idea.  The parent or grandparent may not give you any ideas, but at least he/she has been respectfully approached.  The conversation in the hallway during check-out may lead to discussions about the child’s behavior. The conversation may reveal a difference in the parent or grandparent’s discipline style. The conversation may be a good time to identify the classroom behavior standards, and to mention the child’s challenges in abiding by those standards. Once you establish a partnership between you and the parent or grandparent, you have laid a healthy foundation for further conversations.  Remember that parents or grandparents of an “out of control” child may not see the need for any adjustments at home. They may believe that their standards are okay.  They also may have experienced the same conversations from the child’s schoolteachers. It is okay to ask the parent or grandparent about the child’s experiences at school. If the child experiences the same challenges at school, ask the parent or grandparent what the schoolteacher has tried that has been successful or not.  You might feel comfortable in sharing some suggestions that you have heard other parents or grandparents try successfully. Leave each conversation with a respectful restatement of the fact that you and the parent or grandparent are working together toward the same goal: to give the child the best learning environment possible.  Make sure to compliment the child in the presence of the parents or grandparents as often as possible. Say things like, “He/she was very kind to other children,” or “He/she did a great job in not running around the classroom today.”  The more you compliment, the more the child will feel motivated to please you. Click on the links below for more help.

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