Discussing Difficult Issues

Sometimes, difficult issues or situations arise at child care that are a challenge to bring up and discuss with parents. If you have established an open, trusting mode of communicating with parents in your program, it may be easier to discuss these difficult topics as they come up. Some typical issues include addressing behavioral problems, signs of abuse or neglect, signs that a child may have special needs, health problems, or even a parent's lack of respect for program policies.

Depending on the type of problem, there may be other considerations, such as your legal obligations in cases of suspected abuse or neglect. Documenting and keeping records of problems that arise is always a good idea.

Here are some things to consider when discussing difficult issues with parents:

  • Address issues when they first develop. Putting off a conversation usually makes it harder to bring up later. Don't wait until parent conferences to discuss serious problems.
  • Set up a time to talk in a private place, where you won’t be overheard or interrupted.
  • Think about the things that you want to say and how you want to present things.
  • Be specific about what the issues are: give concrete examples of things you have observed or have documented.
  • Listen to the parent's observations and explanations. Ask questions so that you can understand the situation and the parent's point of view.
  • End the conversation on a positive, solution-finding note. Make a plan for the next steps to be taken.
  • Confidentiality is imperative; any issues you discuss with parents must be held in confidence.
  • Most conflicts can be resolved. If for some reason you have an ongoing problem with a parent, you may want to seek a mediator, or decide to terminate the family from the program if there is clear violation of program policies.

Page last updated: Aug 1, 2013