Calm an Upset Parent

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FREE DAYCARE TIP Calm an Upset Parent

Dealing with an upset Parent

This is not a fun topic. In fact, it makes my heart-rate go up just thinking back to a few heated conversations I had with parents.
Inevitably, you will run into parents that are unhappy about something. It might be minor or it might be earth-shattering. Here are some steps for handling the situation and keeping everyone involved at a simmer instead of a boil.

1. Move the parent to a private area.

Allowing children or other parents to hear a disgruntled parent is never good. Move the conversation somewhere that is out of ear shot. If that isn’t possible, tell the parent that you would like to give them your undivided attention by calling or meeting with them after your school is closed.

2. Actively listen.

Let the parent talk through what is bothering them; let them get it out of their system. Show them that you are listening and hearing what concerns them. Nodding your head and/or making confirming sound like “mmhmm” or “I see.” show that you are engaged in the conversation. Take notes. The more time they spend airing their concerns, the more time they have to calm down.

3. Let them have their opinion.

Even if they are pointing the finger at something you did wrong, don’t retaliate or pass judgement. It is so hard not to get emotionally involved and want to defend yourself, your daycare, or your program. It won’t help, though. They will likely be more combative if you don’t let them have their opinion.

4. Stay calm.

Even if you have to take deep breaths. Or make up an excuse to leave the room for a minute to compose your-self. Don’t fuel the fire. I use to have a fountain in my office that was very relaxing. If I had an angry parent, I would turn it on when we came into the office. It put me in a happier, more relaxed place.

5. Be sympathetic.

Let the customer know you understand their frustration, appreciate their concerns and want to solve the problem for them.

6. Ask questions.

After they are done explaining their concerns, try to get the facts and details that will help you to solve the problem for them. I like to ask “What’s your ideal solution to this problem?” Even if you can’t give that to them, you will be able to fully understand what they want.

7. Apologize when appropriate.

There are times when an apology is necessary. Be careful which apology you use. Some people will take an apology as an admittance of guilt.

Direct: “I apologize that we did not see your payment in the payment box and charged you a late fee. I can fix this for you.”
Blameless: “I apologize for the fact you are frustrated – let’s see if we can make this situation better.”
Fake: “It sounds like we owe you an apology.”
(Many customers interpret this to be an apology when in fact none is ever made.)

8. Agree on the resolution.

Even if the perfect situation is not obtained or is the whole problem cannot be fixed right away, reiterate the solution you have agreed to.

9. Log it.

Keep a log of parent concerns. Make each parent concern it’s own page. Don’t include anything emotional on your end. Just the bare bone facts. If a parent writes an awful review you can contest the review by showing that you made every effort to please them. They will pull a review if you have clearly documented your efforts.

Remember that you cannot please everyone. If a parent is truly unhappy, it’s possible that nothing you say or do will help. They may find their dream daycare down the road or they may find that they have unrealistic expectations. The point is, brush it off and learn from the experience so that the time and effort that went into it isn’t wasted.

by Lily Beaumont

Author of “How to Start and Run Your Daycare – WITH NO MONEY” and “Daycare Forms and Contracts” For tutorials, product reviews and free tips, visit