I told you the other week about the problem we’ve had with J’s school swimming class. I’ve now spoken to the teacher twice to raise my concerns. It’s been a frustrating experience and one that has taught me a few things about how not to deal with a concerned parent.
- Don’t go on about how wonderful the teaching/activity is and how much progress other children are making. This just highlights that their child isn’t getting that benefit from it. It could also be seen as been rather arrogant and uncaring. All the other children are doing well, so what’s wrong with your child? It suits most of the children and we can’t be bothered to do anything about the fact that your child isn’t benefiting. That’s all too easily the type of message you could be sending.
- Don’t say he seems fine in the class. This can be interpreted as ‘you’re imagining it’ ‘you’re been oversensitive’ or ‘your child is putting it on for your benefit’. It also suggests that you don’t know the child very well or haven’t bothered to ask him how he feels about the situation. Simply put, it doesn’t inspire confidence.
- Don’t continually defend your position without doing something positive for the child. You can reassure the parents until the cows come home, but if the child is upset again after the class, you’ve wasted your time as they will discount everything you said. Addressing the cause of the problem is probably a better route to take.
- Don’t assume that the professionals know best. Swimming instructors get it wrong you know. They might get it right most of the time, but everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes they may be over-cautious, sometimes they make snap judgements. It’s not necessary to just roll over and accept things every time, it is ok to question once in a while.