A frump, a tizzy, just all together frustrated.
You see, every now and then you’ll have someone want to withdraw their child from your preschool. It’s inevitable, it’s to be expected, but it’s never fun. Sometimes you see it coming, other times it hits you out of the blue.
When Parents Withdraw From Your Preschool
And today, I had two people tell me they’re done. And what’s even worse is that both families have been with us for years. Literally! Four years, to be exact. So what in the world possessed them to pull their child out, you ask?
Because in the past four years, they’ve seen us grow from a one-woman show with 24 students (me being the Director and teacher) into a full-on amazing school with 2 locations, 4 teachers and 130 students.
Time and time again, I hear our preschool parents saying to each other, “It just keeps getting better each year!” And in truth, it DOES keep getting better each year! We’ve kept our prices the same, but have added on so many free bonuses (t-shirts, field trips, carnivals, parent committees, weekly teacher emails and blog posts, you name it) and increased the quality of the teaching so much so that you can’t help but love us even more.
But apparently, some people just can’t handle the change. They’re living in the past and holding onto some fantasized idea that for whatever reason, the preschool that existed four years ago was somehow better than the one that has evolved now.
I still can’t fully understand it. And thankfully, it was only two parents out of 130. That’s got to mean something. Having a 98.5% retention rate has got to be saying something about the quality of our program, right!?!
But inevitably, I still found myself asking, “What did I do wrong?”
Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with questioning your program… by evaluating your program you can make it better if you can find its flaws and fix them.
But what if nothing’s wrong with your program? What is you truly believe that your program is as amazing as it possibly can be at that point in time?
Then you have to realize one very important truth:
The Real Reason Parents Complain
Nine times out of ten, it’s not you. It’s them. I know it sounds like someone’s breaking up with you, but it’s true: the majority of the times that parents lash out at you or withdraw their children, is for no real reason other than their own life is messed up at home and they can’t cope with the stresses on their life, their marriage, their children, or their finances, so they try to reign everything in: they pull their kids out of extracurricular programs, they yell at their school teachers for not doing a better job, they start watching every dime spent, etc. etc… all to put the blame on someone else, and to make them feel better about their own inadequacies as parents.
Sound familiar? If not, it’ll happen soon enough. So when it does, you’d better be ready.
Usually once a year I’ll get a parent that calls me up and goes off on me, laying into me with all sorts of ridiculous, false allegations about their child not having a good experience, or getting bullied, or flat out not learning enough. And when it all boils over, and I get to the root of the matter with the parent, it turns out that the parent’s own life is so messed up that they’re just lashing out at the closest person they can get to, which in my case, is me. You won’t believe how many times this happens and afterwards, the parent ends up apologizing to me, explaining that they’re super stressed because their Mom just moved in with them, or they’re in the process of moving, or their husband just lost his job, or they just started a new job and feel guilty they’re not home with their children anymore.
So when this happens, remember this: nine times out of ten, it’s their problem, not yours.
Helping Parents Through Their Stress
Try to solve the surface issues first (the ones they’re complaining about) and then dig deeper. Try to get to the root of the problem, and ALWAYS ask if there are changes at home that are causing stress. And if you dig deep enough, I bet you’ll find the source of that stress. And then it’s time to LISTEN. And if the situation is honestly nothing more than a stressed out parent who got bent out of sorts for no real reason at all, and is apologetic, you can usually work through the situation and still have a happy family in your program.
But in some cases, you can’t. A parent is often too far gone in their thinking that they think there is no possible solution other than to withdraw their child. And in these cases, perhaps it’s better to have them out than to have to convince them of the quality of your program. Because if you truly DO have a great program, you shouldn’t have to convince anyone! Either they see the value, or they don’t.
So instead, I’ll vent here on this post, and get a few extra hours’ sleep tonight, and try to remind myself that if I’ve kept 98.5% of my parents happy, I’m doing a pretty darn good job.
Have you ever had someone withdraw from your preschool? Were you able to help them through the situation or did they decide they were done?