The Biggest Mistakes You Make When Dealing with Parents
by: Kate Boyd, Guest Contributor
Cheer parents can occasionally cause difficulty, but here's something I've discovered over the years: if you avoid a few specific mistakes, they'll not only be more pleasant to deal with but also more trusting of you. Here are a few of the mistakes I've made in my 13 years of coaching and how you can avoid them:
Not Helping Them Support Their Kids
Just like you, the parents want to give their kids the best, but sometimes they just don't know how. You see their kids in a different setting, so you may have a little insight into how they can support their child in cheerleading, especially on competition day.
Give them the tools. Tell them the kids need them there. Help them make signs that encourage their specific children. Make the parents the hero of the day by helping them communicate their love and respect for their children in a way the cheerleaders will best respond to.
Not Communicating Well
Communicating well means giving parents the information they need in a way that they understand and respond to. Know your audience and tailor every email or phone conversation accordingly.
For example, when you communicate instructions for checking in at a competition or where they should be before the next game, be sure you're not assuming they know all that you know. Anticipate their questions and be as specific and helpful as possible. That way when they know they won't see their child for a few hours before a competition parents are comfortable knowing they're in your hands.
Not Giving Them Any Buy-In
We all like to feel as though we have a say in a matter. Parents are no different, especially when it comes to their children. Sure, you'll have a few that are low maintenance, but there will be others that want to contribute in some way—
even if they know nothing about cheerleading.
So do you just let them be frustrated? Of course not! Give them something to do or something to decide, however small or big. They want to be a part of the process. Consult one or two about a big decision. Even if you don't go with their suggestion, they'll appreciate the gesture. Give a crowd of them the reins of a holiday party. Make them feel important. You don't have to do it all yourself.
Not Making Your Boss Aware Of Any Higher Maintenance Parents
Even if you avoid making most or all of these mistakes, you'll likely still have something come up with a parent. It happens to all of us. If you find yourself communicating with one parent very often or several times about the same issue, you need to let your boss know—
whether that's a gym owner or a school administrator.
Sometimes situations escalate, and a parent may want to take it up the ladder to your boss. Make sure that your boss is aware of the problem and your position before the parent gets there. They want to back you and get it resolved, and they can't do that if they don't know what's going on.
At times, we can mistake problems with our coaching for problems with parents. Make sure that you're doing all you can to empower parents to confidently lead their athletes throughout the season, and they will likely return the favor.
Learn more about Kate Boyd here. You can read her other contributing articles here.