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Talking to Parents about Stressed-Out Kids

Tiffany Smith
Jan. 20, 2009

How should tutors deal with this common problem?

When a child is stressed about school, she might be reluctant to tell her parents -- particularly if she is worried about disappointing them. But as a tutor, if you observe that a child seems stressed, especially if she vocalizes her feelings, you need to tell her parents.

Guidelines for Telling Parents That Their Child is Stressed

  • Don't approach parents in an accusatory manner, as if the child's stress is their fault.
  • Don't worry about upsetting parents. They need to be aware of the child's stress, its causes, and methods for dealing with it.
  • Do be candid. If a child says a parent is pushing him too hard, let the parent know.
  • Do respect the trust the child has placed in you. If he asks you not to discuss certain things with his parents, encourage him to approach the parents on his own. If you feel you must speak up, talk to the parents in general terms.
  • Do suggest ways parents can help their child deal with stress.
  • Do remind parents that you are there to help.
  • Do reach out to the child's teacher -- with the parents' approval -- to learn how well the child is (or is not) doing in the classroom.

The child's well-being is the most important thing to everyone involved. Part of a tutor's job is to make sure parents aren't unknowingly harming it.

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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