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How Tutors Can Talk to High-Pressure Parents

Tiffany Smith
March 13, 2017

Tips on reducing stress in yourself and in the children you tutor.

Parents who want high-performance children will demand high-performance tutors. While these parents might have the very best intentions, they're often the hardest to deal with.

The best tutors understand that, in addition to tutoring these children, it is also their job to help them manage the stress that pressure from their parents can cause.

"Everyone who cares for and works with children needs to look out for warning signs that a child may be struggling to cope, and be ready to offer [him] the support [he needs]," said Carole Easton, chief executive of Childline, a UK-based helpline for kids that has studied stress levels in children and the role of care providers and tutors in helping them.


How to Handle High-Pressure Parents

All parents want their children to excel, but some may push harder than others. When you first meet with a parent, talk honestly about your tutoring methods, what you expect from the child and her parents, and what they can expect from you. Communicating about realistic expectations can prevent problems from developing. Establish a regular meeting schedule so you can update parents on their child's progress; this will keep the lines of communication open, and help parents understand any challenges their child may be facing.

Assuming it's OK with his parents, you should make an effort to talk regularly with the child's teacher. Having the same educational goals inside and outside of the classroom is crucial to any child's progress. Schedule phone chats and e-mail regularly to find out about upcoming lessons. It's in your best interest -- and the child's -- to work with teachers to ensure your plans are consistent. Always share what you discuss with the child's parents.

In a recent child-development study, it was found that children's stress levels didn't rise in settings where they received a lot of attention, support, and guidance; stress levels did, however, rise in less-supportive settings. That means that as a tutor, you need to talk with your students and find out how they are feeling about school. If a child is feeling stressed, you need to help her deal with it. The next conversation you need to have is with her parents. Parents often have trouble assessing their children's stress, and many kids are reluctant to communicate their feelings, so it's up to you to bridge the gap.

In the end, it all comes down to communication. Establishing open and honest communication will reduce stress for everyone. Many parents are no longer satisfied with "satisfactory" -- they expect excellence. A simple conversation can help high-pressure parents manage their own expectations and will help you better deal with them.

  • Set and manage expectations in the child and the child's parents
  • Communicate regularly with the child's teachers
  • Open communication reduces stress


More Tutoring Resources

The Tutoring & Lessons Checklist-Care.com

Tiffany Smith is the senior associate editor here at Care.com. She has written for All You, Time for Kids and the Boston Globe. And as a former babysitter, she knows a lot about fun games to play with kids. Getting them to eat their veggies -- that’s a different story! Follow her on Twitter at @tiffanyiswrite

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