How Can Teachers Effectively Manage Helicopter Parents?

March 19, 2024

How can teachers effectively manage helicopter parents

In the last several years, there seems to have been a shift in attitudes towards teachers. In the past, if a student got in trouble at school, parents may have normally asked their child why they were misbehaving. If the student was struggling in a subject, parents would encourage their child to study more. Now, there has been a change in attitude towards blaming whatever shortcomings a student has on the teacher. These parents may be referred to as “helicopter parents” because they take an overinvolved and often aggressive interest in their child’s life. This article will discuss helpful pointers for teachers and staff that may make dealing with difficult parents easier, while also communicating a positive message of teamwork to achieve student goals.

School Colleagues are a Team and a Resource

School administration can be a valuable resource teachers can utilize when dealing with a difficult parent. Teachers may wish to notify the school administration when they need extra support in dealing with a parent who may be over-demanding. A principal can sometimes act as a mediator between parent and teacher, especially when both parties feel they have hit a roadblock. Informing your principal or assistant principal also means they will not be surprised if they are later contacted by a difficult parent because they are already on top of the situation. Teachers may want to provide their administrators with background information on the situation, detailing the specific issues they are having, and what steps they have already taken to resolve this conflict. This helps the administrator understand the situation and make informed decisions.

Speaking to other teachers within the school may also be effective, especially if they have more experience in the education profession. Sometimes talking out the problem with a fellow teacher can help with alleviating stress; talking it out is a good way to avoid taking out your frustrations on the student, the parents, or other colleagues. Talking about the situation can also lead to ideas being formulated and shared.

When both the teacher and the parent have concerns regarding a student’s behavior or academics but are unable to come to a mutual solution, involving the school psychologist may be a good idea. The school psychologist will bring the teacher and parents together to come up with a plan to improve and maintain student confidence, learning, and behavior. Psychologists may also be able to walk parents through alternatives to helicopter parenting by advising parents to give their children opportunities to be independent and to problem solve on their own. Involving other faculty members in the child’s development signals to the parents that the teacher and school prioritizes the student’s education and well being.

Take Advantage of “Meet the Teacher Night”

Schools often host “meet the teacher night,” where parents and teachers have an opportunity to introduce themselves and discuss the plans for the school year. Teachers can share their classroom routine, homework distribution, how student work will be graded, and communication expectations. Parents can also discuss their own goals for their child and how involved they hope to be in the classroom.

Listen to the Parent’s Concerns 

Parents have big hopes and dreams for their children, so it is important for teachers to lend a listening ear to these aspirations. Teachers may also share their own goals they have for their student and see if they align with the parent’s goals. If they do not, it may be a good idea to explain to the parent why the goals they have in mind for their child are not attainable yet, and that further work needs to be done now in order to make those expectations possible in the future. Teachers can consider asking questions of the parent and learning why the parent has differing goals in mind for their child. Parents may also be more open to describing traits they want their child to improve when they feel the teacher is taking an active involvement in their child’s education. This way, both the parents and teacher can be involved in creating a detailed plan for the student to continue building on top of already established skills and behavior.

Start With the Positives

When meeting with a parent for the first time to talk about a child who may be disruptive or not meeting their academic goals, it is easy to want to jump straight into the negatives. Instead, the teacher can take the time to tell parents what their child is doing well and how the teacher plans for this to continue. It is important to start the meeting with the positive characteristics and talents you see in the student. After breaking the ice in a comfortable tone, the teacher can pivot into the areas they hope to see the student develop in, their plans to achieve these objectives, and how they hope the parent can be involved in that process.

Balance the Expectations

Even after a teacher has done all they can for their students and made numerous attempts to involve parents and administrators, sometimes that may not be enough for the helicopter parent. Parents who get too involved in their child’s life may become a roadblock for the teacher in the classroom. These parents may offer suggestions to the teacher on how they can do their job better. When parents come to a teacher with complaints, it is important for the teacher to listen to those complaints. It is best for the teacher not to take complaints personally and maintain their professionalism. Developing good conflict resolution skills and knowing when to employ them can prevent a teacher from getting frustrated and losing control of the conversation.

Instead, let the parents talk first, and then the teacher can respond. The teacher should not be afraid to set boundaries with the parents and inform them that they wish to have an eventful discussion, not a back-and-forth argument. These boundaries can also signal to a parent that you do not wish to continue the conversation if they will continue to be rude, incessant, and unwilling to compromise on their demands. Teachers may want to remind parents that they are professionals who are trained in child education and behavior, so their suggestions and teaching style comes from advanced knowledge and experience. Educators can also be transparent about what their classroom routine is and what steps they have taken for the student to excel. This involves explaining why those measures were taken and how the teacher hoped the student would respond to them.

If this approach does not work, it is best to know when the conversation needs to end. Talking in circles will get both the parents and the teacher nowhere. Teachers may want to end the conversation by reiterating the fact that schools have policies when it comes to dealing with parents, and one parent will not receive preferential treatment over another. This means not caving in when one parent pushes a little harder than another. If necessary, teachers may want to consider documenting the meeting that just transpired, especially when it is still fresh in their mind. Documenting meetings with parents, phone calls, texts, and emails can help bring clarity to the conflict and create a better timeline of the situation and what steps were taken to resolve it, thus ensuring accountability.


Parenting has evolved over the years and teachers are experiencing the effects of this evolution in their classrooms. Helicopter parenting is a new dynamic and teachers may want to consider adjusting to this style of parenting for a smoother school year. Navigating how to approach helicopter parents requires a delicate balance of compassion, communication, and professionalism. Teachers can set boundaries with parents, seek support from fellow teachers and administration, and communicate to the parents that the goal for both parties is to see growth and progress in the student.

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