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How School Nurses Can Reduce Conflicts with Parents

January 15th, 2011

Becoming a school nurse can be a very rewarding experience—after all, school nurses have the opportunity to treat and work with children. But sometimes there are challenges that arise when working with children, like having conflicts with their parents. Parents can get angry for a magnitude of different reasons; including thinking you aren't doing your job correctly. It's important to remember that if the child is severely sick some parents go into defensive mode and blame the school nurse for their child's illness. It's imperative that you do not take the parent's reaction personal—don't doubt your nursing techniques or skills. And don't argue back—this is not only unprofessional, but it can also add fuel to the fire, causing more tension and hostility. Rather, it's important that you learn how to deal with these sorts of situations when they occur or at least how to minimize confrontations with parents. Continue reading below to learn how to do this.

One of the easiest ways to avoid/reduce conflict with parents is to attempt to develop a good relationship with the parents from the very beginning. This starts with discovering the student's needs and his or her family's proprieties and preferences. Recognize the family's individuality and understand that people cope in different ways to certain situations. Also, prepare yourself to implement policies that are tailored to meet the needs of these individual families.

Another way to prevent conflict is to attempt to build trust with the student's family. Trust is built when you actively try to include the parent. This might mean some joint-planning and problem solving, or simply being open to recommendations and adequately addressing concerns. But whatever you do, it's critical that if you do not agree with the parent's position, you don't convey an extremely disapproving look or tone. Explain to the parent why their recommendations may or may not be a wise choice (including how it may affect the student's learning for example) and explain in layman's terms the reasoning behind your conclusion. Addressing issues this way encourages a harmonious environment.

Lastly, it's important that you always give parent's the complete (and unbiased) information regarding their child's care and condition—this includes notifying parents when a student's health status changes or alerting the parent if his or her child must undergo certain procedures.