How NOT to be a Yappy Parent

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Want to learn how to NOT shoot yourself in the foot by being the “know-it-all” parent at IEP meetings?

This may sound like a silly game.  But you can learn how to hit a home run in this game and build a healthy working relationship with the school.

A Perception Problem

We believe that parents are natural advocates for their children.  You have your child’s best interests at heart. You were your child’s first teacher.  And yes, you are the expert on your child.

But, if you take over the role of “expert” at meetings, you leave no role for the educators.

Think about how you are perceived by school people. The yappy parent?  The know-it-all?

If school people feel threatened or disrespected by you, they will look for a way to shoot you down.

If an educator came into your home and told you how to decorate the rooms and what color to paint the walls, would YOU be happy?

A Winning Strategy – Asking the Right Questions

One strategy for winning this game is to ask questions. Better yet – learn what questions NOT to ask.

Say thank you – a good way to create school advocates for your child.  Does it really matter who comes up with the solution as long as your child’s needs are met.

Learn how to use the strategy of asking the right questions to identify solutions to problems.  Learn how to ask questions, get services. Read more…

  1. I found this to be very helpful in past IEP meetings. Phrase everything as a question whenever possible. However, I had teachers (who I would look to as experts) who would withhold their advice. I would later learn that these ideas worked for no one. It was so frustrating!

  2. But what do you know when as the parent I am the expert….my husband and I are both mental health professionals, and my husband is one in another school district. We actually see teachers as lay people when it comes to dealing with the emotionally disturbed (like our son).

  3. What is the Alessi report that is referred to in a couple of these posts? There is also a reference to an Alessi-type school. My school district definitely adheres to the theory that the parents and the students are the problem. I am just curious. Thank you!

    • GLS –

      Dr. Galen Alessi, Professor of Psychology at Western Michigan University, conducted a fascinating study on school psychologists. Dr. Alessi’s study illustrates why so many parents have problems dealing with schools. Dr. Alessi’s article is “Diagnosis Diagnosed: A Systemic Reaction” published in Professional School Psychology, 3(2), 145-151. – taken from this article by Pam Wright, The Blame Game! Are School Problems the Kids’ Fault? Click the link to read more about the “Blame Game.”

  4. And what if you are at a school that shares the views laid out in the Alessi report outlined in the next blog where the child/parent is always the problem, information is irreleveant no matter how it is presented, and no matter how collaboratively you work with the teachers nothing but what they are currently doing is ever mentioned because “you can lead a horse to water” is the answer to any struggling child while providing the same general education instruction to everyone with no deviation for anyone. There is no reason to change the methodology or intensity because the child just needs to start doing what they are teaching.

    Informed is great, but all the information in the world and listening first will not always bring about change in a school that has the Alessi mindset.

  5. I have learned to be informed before th PPT meeting. I was that yappy parent and it does not work. But, I became a parent who is informed, collaborative and willing to listen. When schools fail our kids, we must become their advocates. Think about this–our kids have to go to the schools and work with the staff on a daily basis–not us. My goal as a parent is to collaborate. I learned a lot at my child’s last PPT meeting by truly listening to the staff and being informed before the meeting. They were on target with the recommendations and goals. My child is making phenomal progress. But, that was a long road to get to that point. I learned to be more collaborative and less “yappy.” Each parent must find their own advocacy style. Some have to be more yappy and other less yappy. Always think about the outcome for your child

  6. I’m having trouble because this article, “How NOT to be a Yappy Parent” is very much in conflict with what happens based on the newer blog addition about the “Alessi” report.

    How do you sit and praise teachers asking them what will help when you happen to be at a full-force Alessi-type school where it is always the fault of the child or the fault of the parent, but never what they are doing. How do you deal with staff that doesn’t know any methods to help because they system they work in is never the issue?
    A parent can’t convince a system that is set up this way that their child needs something else, and those in this system tend to lack either the ability or the authority to do something different.
    I just see major contradiction between the two blog entries.
    You need a ‘school culture’ flow chart for parents? What do do when.

  7. Indeed, when a parent takes on the role of the expert they can sabatoge the entire IEP process. Teachers tend to think tht when A parent who believes, they are the professional minimizes the effectiveness of the role of the team working together to address the child’s needs.

    Parents can contribute to the IEP process by being more informed before the meeting. Not by providing opinion pieces to the meeting. The team is likely to be more accepting or remarks when you do your homework!

  8. I saw myself in this article in sme ways. At first, I wasthe only person in the PPT meetings who knew and understood Orton-Gillimgham and how to implement it appropriately. I was the only person in the meeting who was trained in AT. Some teachers were afraid to speak up, but i knew enough to politely disagree with the supervisor about a proposed program and her suggestions for implementation which would have resulted in regression. But, that was all done in collaboration and now I listen more as the had work has been done to put my child on track. Reecently, an educator expressed that he has 30 years of experience ….. I did listen and agreed–though I could have refused but one must wait and listen. At its, the know it all educated the team about data, AT, etc. they were excited but I had to slow it don.

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