No one wants to think about dealing with angry daycare clients when they open a home daycare but if you work in this business long enough it’s a given that you will have to deal with an angry parent or two. Just take a peek at daycare provider Facebook groups or message boards for providers and you will see tons of providers dealing with angry parents. No matter why the parent is upset, below you will find some tips on how to manage these situations in a professional way and avoid having the issues escalate.
Tips for Dealing with Angry Daycare Clients
There are several reasons that parent can be upset, from behavior issues with their child or others to policy issues to even provider errors. No matter the reason, dealing with an angry parent is difficult and uncomfortable. No one wants to deal with an unhappy client. However, running your own home daycare means you are responsible for ALL aspects of the business. Even angry daycare clients, there is no manager or director to send the angry parent too.
Having the right tools and knowledge about how to deal with the client is essential. We live in an era of social media and people love to complain online. One upset parent can trash your reputation, especially online. I’ve seen it over and over in local mom groups and online reviews. Make sure you handle issues right away and professionally to prevent these negative hits to your reputation.
Here’s some tips for dealing with angry daycare clients:
It’s really easy to get worked up when dealing with someone who is angry with you, to become defensive or nervous. Except when you are the business owner, you have to shove these feeling down and stay calm. Never raise your voice or yell, no matter how much you want too. Keep your body language as non-confrontational as you can (avoid crossing your arms and watch facial expressions) and don’t argue with angry daycare clients. No matter what they are upset about or how they are acting you have to remain calm and polite. Save those comebacks for when you vent to your husband or family later.
Don’t Take it Personally
This can be hardest part for some providers. Home daycare is unlike most other types of careers. Our lives and homes are most definitely intertwined with our business. That sometimes means that when a parent is upset and complaining it can feel like a personal attack on you, your home, or even your family. Don’t let this affect you! Remember, your rules and home are set up the way you want. Your business, your rules. If they are bothered by something in your policy or home (or personality) then it’s their issue and they are not a good fit.
Let them talk. Ask them what the issue is and then listen while they talk. It may be more of a vent sometimes but you need to listen to them and let them say what they feel they need to say. Don’t interrupt or offer negative body language responses (like shaking your head or rolling your eyes) to what they are saying. Letting them talk and really listening to what they are saying is truly the best way to begin to deescalate the situation.
Active listening means that you are paying attention to their body language as they talk and listening carefully to all that they are saying. Many times we only hear a potion of what angry daycare clients are saying because we are picking out one or two things they say and then formulating our responses to that. If you are more focused on your rebuttal then you aren’t getting all the information. This can sometimes cause parents to get more frustrated because they think you aren’t listening or hearing them. Paraphrase their concerns back to them in your own words, don’t parrot their words back to them, to make sure you are understanding the issue right.
Tell them that you understand their frustrations, that you see how they are affected and you understand that they are upset. Empathize with them about the situation and validate their feelings.
If you are the one that did something wrong, apologize for it. No one likes to be wrong or mess up but we are all human. Sometimes we make mistakes. If you did then own it! Offer parents a sincere apology. Don’t give them a half apology by following it up with a “but” or blaming them for the issues. This will escalate the situation.
Even if you aren’t in the wrong a simple apology can go a long way to defuse a situation and let parents calm down enough to talk in a less upset manner. Try saying: “I’m sorry that you are feeling frustrated and finding yourself in this situation. I understand that it is upsetting. Let’s see what we can do to resolve this.”
Ask Parents for Solutions
A lot of the time parents can feel like they have a little control over their child when it comes to daycare. When the child is in your care they are not in charge and it’s hard for some parents to deal with this. If you are having issues with these types of parents then it’s best to include them in the solution process. Take time to ask them what they think is a good solution. Don’t immediately jump in with your advice or laying out your plans for the situation, if you don’t give them a chance to be part of the process then sometimes all your ideas can and will be shot down right away.
Parents come into these situations with a set of expectations and if those aren’t met (even if you have never discussed them) then it can cause frustrations. Obviously, you do not have to accept these solutions but sometimes they will be similar to what you have in mind. Involving the parent and working together is the best way to defuse animosity with clients.
Please note that I only recommend this option for situations were parents are upset over non-policy issues, like behavior or everyday issues. You should never ask them for their solutions to non-negotiable things like payment dates, fees, or time off.
Shut Down Aggression
Parents that are yelling, using foul language, or making threatening or disparaging comments need to be shut down immediately. If a parent does not calm down or begins to make you feel uncomfortable do not continue the conversation. Walk them to the door, open it, and ask them to leave. Tell them that you understand they are upset but that you will not tolerate that kind of behavior. Offer to schedule a time to sit down and discuss things when they have calmed down.
If a parent becomes overly aggressive or belligerent do not hesitate to terminate them. This is unacceptable behavior. Angry or not, it is not OK for you to feel unsafe in your own home.
Any time you deal with angry daycare clients you should document the encounter. Many providers keep a spiral notebook to track parent requests and communications. They use these logs to document conversations with parents (even simple conversations like behavior over weekend or schedule changes), accidents/incidents with the child, and any issues that arise with the parents. You should document ANY issues with angry parents. Describe basics (date, time, who was present) as well as the issues and the outcome achieved. If you think a parent may be an issue you may even want to call your licensor after the interaction. Nothing may come of it but if a parent complains or lodges false accusations at least you have a record already established.
Never in Front of Children
Just a reminder. These conversations should never take place in front of children. Whether it’s the angry parent’s child or other children in your care. If a parent is upset schedule a time outside of daycare hours for them to come over and talk. The sooner the better, don’t put it off of parents will just get more upset.
Stand Your Ground
Angry daycare clients can be intimating. Don’t let them push you around or use anger as a tool to get you to change your policies. You have set your business up to run in a way that best suits you. Don’t risk getting burnt out because you are changing things every time someone get upset. Daycare providers are notorious for not standing up for themselves, just look through forums and Facebook groups, but don’t fall into this! Keep that backbone straight and strong!
Dealing with angry daycare parents can be nerve wracking and upsetting but it doesn’t have to be a huge ordeal. Take a deep breathe, stay calm, and don’t allow them to push you around. Being loud and angry doesn’t make them right. And even if you made a mistake don’t let them use it against you.
Most of these issues usually tend to be miscommunication or misunderstandings. If you talk it out with a parent you can usually clear things up and continue caring for the child in a positive environment.
What are your tips for dealing with angry daycare parents?