Parent-Teacher Conferences are quickly approaching, and nothing ruins the mood more than the wrong choice of words. Telling a parent that their child is “screwing around way too much” and “really getting on my nerves” will not go over well. Like the majority of professional jobs (excluding athletes), the art of biting one’s tongue is a very necessary skill. While it may be tempting to say exactly what’s on your mind while talking with parents, it’s best to word things in such a way that your point gets made, but there’s no chance of getting punched in the stomach or slapped across the face. Can you imagine a doctor saying to a patient, “Wow! You are so fat. I can’t believe you let yourself go like that. YOU ARE SO HUGE! What you doing, eating at Old Country Buffet for lunch and supper!?!? And your blood pressure…it’s off the charts, man! Are you trying to kill yourself or what?” No, they just say things like, “You know, I noticed your weight is kind of creeping up there. You might want to think about eating differently. Try to cut down on the soda and eat more fruits and vegetables. That might help your blood pressure too.”
How about an auto mechanic: “What were you thinking when you bought this car? Ever heard of Consumer Reports?
Hairstylist: “Are you sure you want me to cut your hair like that? I mean…I’ll do it, but you don’t really have the right shape to your head for that one. Plus you have those weird lumps behind your ears.”
Dentist: “What are trying to do, see how many cavities you can squeeze into a six-month period? Did you lose the toothbrush I gave you the last time you were here?”
Builder: “That is the absolute worst place to put your house. You do realize your basement is going to be full of water every time it rains, right?
Photographer: “Okay people, try not to look like you’re at your grandma’s funeral.”
I’ve compiled a few phrases that would be best to avoid while talking with any child’s parents. Instead of saying, “Your kid is extremely loud and obnoxious, he’s driving me crazy,” say, “Sometimes I need to remind (child’s name) to use his inside voice. It’s very difficult for the class to stay focused on their work.” Rather than say, “Your kid does nothing but screw around when he’s supposed to be working,” say, “(Child’s name) needs a lot of reminders to stay on task.” Finally, instead of, “Your kid needs to grow up and stop acting like a baby when things don’t go her way,” say, “She’s still working on handling herself appropriately when she gets frustrated or upset.”
Hope this helps.