I’ve said it once and I will say it again. In this place, this space, I will always be real with you. So it’s time for another confession. Caregivers terrify me. I’m getting better, and I’ve even worked with some wonderful parents, but they still make me nervous. Today I am going to share 4 tips that I have used to help me go from the SLP hiding in the bathroom to interacting confidently with caregivers!
In the beginning of my career, I worked with families in a home health setting. I got to see these parents 2x a week so it was very easy to establish rapport with them.
Imagine my shock when I started my first year in the schools. I saw the caregivers once a year, if that. They didn’t know me and I didn’t know them. I was insanely busy and didn’t know how to communicate with them. It was a recipe for disaster.
I used to get so anxious before any kind of interaction where I would have to talk to a caregiver-any caregiver. I was scared they would ask me a question I didn’t have an answer to. Sometimes, I was worried they wouldn’t trust my judgement as a young professional. Other times, I was afraid of having to try and defend practice and procedures that were way above my pay-grade or ability to control. Sometimes, I needed to apologize for a mistake I had made. No one likes to talk about it, these are all VERY VALID CONCERNS and very real situations.
But the good news is, that now that I have been around for a few years, I have developed some strategies to help me feel more confident in this area of our job. Today, I am going to share with my best, tried and true tips, that will help you interact with your student’s parents with confidence.
4 Tips For Confidently Interacting With Caregivers as an SLP
1.) Make a conversation outline before any known interaction. Seriously, think through how you want to start the conversation, the points you want to make, and how you want it to end. Bonus points if you actually write it down. I even do this before phone calls or I stumble all over myself. #soawkward.
2.) Do your homework. Think about the topics that you think you will need a solid answer to. Is it service time, is it goals, is it something else? Research it. Find everything you can to support your argument, become familiar with it, and print a copy for the parents. You look so awesome and confident when you are prepared and organized.
3.) Get support from your team. If you are going into a team meeting like an IEP or ARD meeting, let your teammates in on your thoughts so they can back you up. Sometimes other people have a better way of wording things in the stress of the moment.
4.) Also, I would be remiss to not say this, try and interact with your student’s caregivers in unstructured times. Such as class parties, the cafeteria, etc. I used to run from parents if I saw them in the cafeteria, but the more you see them, the more they trust you! If you are unable to see the parents in unstructured settings, hand written notes and positive emails or phone calls also work WONDERS with helping you establish rapport. This is one perk of sending home speech folders-it makes “informal” communication super easy!
As you get ready for your next parent interaction, remember these 4 tips for confidently interacting with caregivers as an SLP and I promise you feel more confident going into the meeting. Best of luck!
Want to hear more of my story? Be sure and check out this post to learn how this normal SLP started a TPT store, blog, and YouTube channel!