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Providers  >  Communicating with Parents  >  Discussing Difficult Issues

Discussing Difficult Issues

Difficult situations sometimes arise in child care that are a challenge to bring up with parents. If you have established an open, trusting relationship with the parents in your program, it may be easier to discuss these difficult issues as they come up. Some typical concerns include 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.


You must also consider your legal obligations in cases of suspected abuse or neglect. Documenting and keeping records of all problems is always a good idea.


Here are some things to think about 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 very important. Any issues you discuss with parents must be held in confidence.
  • Most conflicts can be resolved. If you have an ongoing problem with a parent, you may decide to terminate the family from the program if there is clear violation of program policies.

If you are not sure how to handle a problem with a parent or child in your program, the staff at the Council is always available to help.

It may be easier to discuss difficult issues if you have already established an open trusting relationship with the parents in your program