As a professional, there might be times when you need to raise concerns with parents about a child’s behaviour, wellbeing or development.
A problem-solving approach will help you and parents work together to address concerns. This approach involves:
- identifying the problem
- brainstorming as many solutions as possible
- jointly evaluating the pros and cons
- deciding on a solution to try
- putting the solution into action
- reviewing the solution after a period of time.
One of the keys to this approach is talking about concerns when they come up. Problems usually don’t go away by themselves. And if you let problems build up, they might be more and more difficult to address.
Here are some tips for putting this approach into action:
- Prepare for conversations about difficult issues. This is because parents can feel upset and stressed by these conversations. If you think ahead about what you need to say and about the most sensitive and respectful way to say it, it can help your discussion go well.
- Try to schedule a time when parents are most available. For example, if you’re a child care educator or a teacher, this might be at pick-up and drop-off times. Or it might be best to call parents during the day.
- Discuss concerning behaviour without judgment. Try to focus on facts and whether the behaviour is appropriate. For example, ‘Ben drew on the wall and said that another child did it. This behaviour isn’t OK’.
- Explain what might contribute to the behaviour. This can help you and parents work out how to change the behaviour. For example, ‘Starting school can be challenging. Children often feel worried about getting into trouble’.
- Check what parents think about the issue. Remember that perceptions of what’s appropriate can differ between cultures or contexts. For example, ‘How does your family handle it when children don’t tell the truth?’
- Offer realistic strategies suited to each family. For example, if a child needs to make new friends but they get stressed in public, parents might start by inviting other children for playdates at home.