If your policy is not laid out in your team handbook, the next best option is the in-person delivery at a pre-season meeting for your parents and athletes. There are a lot of great reasons to have a meeting like this but disseminating your parent-coach communication policy is one of the most important!
Ok, ok, so what if it’s too late for that too?
If your season has already started and you calling a parent meeting isn’t feasible, your best solution is to send an email out to all your parents and student-athletes quickly explaining your policy.
So what should this “policy” talk about? First and foremost, everyone should agree that one of the major goals of high school and youth athletics is to create strong leaders. That being said, if there is an issue of any kind, the first point of contact should be the student-athlete coming directly to the coach for a discussion. We can all agree that we want to encourage our student-athletes to speak up for themselves and develop more self-reliance in general.
If that discussion is unable to resolve the issue and a parent would like to further communicate with the coach they certainly should.
The right time and the wrong time
Next, you must establish parameters regarding where, when and how parents should get in touch. A great rule here is to never approach the coach for a conversation before, during or after any practices or competitions. Our focus in on the task-at-hand and our student-athletes at that time. Further, emotions can be high for all involved immediately after a competition and that might not lend itself to productive discussion.
Another good rule here is the “24-hour rule” – asking parents to wait to discuss a situation until 24 hours after a competition. Another suggestion is to ask parents to make their first point of contact via email. Let parents know their emails will be responded to within 24 hours. Here you have time to think about their question and formulate your response. For simple questions, this often saves time over a phone conversation or a face-to-face meeting and lets you take care of it at a time that works for you.
If a face-to-face meeting is warranted, you can also set this up by email. To minimize the back and forth it helps to propose two or three different time slots to potentially meet as well as being clear about the duration of a meeting. By being clear about this upfront, everyone knows the timeframe and keeps the meeting from dragging on unproductively.
In most situations, it also helps to let parents know that these meetings should include the student-athlete as well. While you can certainly use your discretion for occasional exceptions, having the student-athlete be part of the meeting ensures they’re on the same page as their parents and lets them know that their input is important.
In the meeting, never interrupt or interject. Always let the parent or student-athlete finish talking even if they have a lot to say. Have a notepad and pen handy to take notes if you need to remember certain points to which you’d like to respond.
It helps to begin your responses by acknowledging their feelings. Once again, a little empathy can go a long way: “Thanks for bringing that to my attention. I can totally understand why you’d feel that way…”
Setting some ground rules
The final important piece is letting parents know what is “fair game” for discussion and what is not.
Generally, parents should know that it’s always acceptable for them to bring concerns about the treatment of their child by coaches or teammates, concerns about their child’s behavior or a discussion about how their child can improve or the coach’s philosophy.
Likewise, it helps to let parents know ahead of time that certain subjects will not be discussed, such as decisions about their child’s playing time or positions, team strategies or tactics, game plans or any discussion about other student athletes.
Putting it together
A cohesive policy on parent communication puts you in a great position to deal with difficult parents when they crop up. Establishing and articulating a policy as soon as possible not only helps you avoid many stressful, frustrating situations but also gives you the relaxed feeling of preparation – knowing you’re ready to deal with these situations whenever they emerge.
At the end of the day, remember, most parents simply want what they feel is best for their kids. Sometimes they’ll agree with your decisions and sometimes they won’t, but by establishing the rules of the game ahead of time, you put yourself in a position to address their concerns professionally and effectively.
Repost from: https://www.winsmarter.com/engaging-your-parents/