Thursday, August 31, 2017

Why you should never apologize in an IEP meeting

It is natural for a parent to be embarrassed or feel responsible when others bring up inappropriate behavior displayed by their children.  The instinctive reaction to this emotion is to apologize.  Never apologize for your child’s behavior during an IEP meeting.

The desire to discuss parental responsibility for your child’s actions should be avoided during an IEP meeting.  The apology shifts focus away from understanding your child’s behavior, to you becoming a scapegoat.  An example of this exchange would be:

Teacher: “Lately I have noticed that child, has been having difficulty staying still in class and following directions.”

Parent:  “I know, and I am so sorry.  It’s not just at school- it’s happening at home as well.  Things have been hectic lately.  I promise I’ll try harder.”

At this point the IEP teacher will either accept the statement at its face value or will say something to assure the parent that it’s OK.  In either event, the discussion has moved away from your child.

Not apologizing is a very difficult thing to do, but it is important.

Always keep in mind that the IEP meeting is about your child and not you.

IEP meetings are one of the only times in your child’s life when a panel of highly educated professionals will come together to address their needs.  This means that if it is not discussed, it will probably never be understood.

An example of refraining from apologies would be:

Teacher: “Lately I have noticed that child, has been having more difficulty staying still in class and following directions.”

Parent:  “I have noticed that too.  Maybe we should discuss the types of behaviors we’re seeing and develop a plan to address them.”

In this case, the parent has kept the focus squarely upon the child.  Additionally, they have encouraged the team to engage in a discussion that is likely to produce a positive plan of action.

It is frustrating when others do not understand or relate to the difficulties you experience. Children who have disabilities can face frustration on a daily, or even hourly basis.  They often do not have the social and language skills to express their frustration.  When this happens, it is highly likely the child will engage in some type of maladaptive behavior.

Parents should keep this in mind when others share descriptions of these behaviors with them.  Remember, these type of actions are typical, and something that is expected when a child has a disability.

Being a scapegoat is draining--it is something that can deeply affect a parent's identity.
If you are one of these parents, I feel for you. It is my hope that this information will help you and your child through the IEP maze.

I also know that if you refrain from apologizing and begin trying to learn from these experiences, things are likely to get better.

If you would like to learn more about what you can do in these situations, please watch this video I made concerning the topic:

Remember, you are not alone.  There are others who are struggling with these same issues, and if you need additional assistance, I am always an email away.

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