12. Building Compassion-Based Relationships with Caregivers

Introduction

Throughout this section, caregiver is used to represent parents, legal guardians, grandparents, and whomever is the primary caregiver for a student.

The opportunities educators have for relationships with students’ caregivers can leave them vulnerable to compassion fatigue too. The drivers of compassion fatigue around caregivers can be very similar to those that drive compassion fatigue around students. When we come to understand the trauma families face, try to meet unrealistic expectations of those relationships, and/or feel ineffective in building positive relationships with caregivers, it can lead to behaviors that are signs of compassion fatigue. We do not have to look far to hear educators blaming caregivers, using the home life as an excuse for lowered expectation of students, and not wanting to get to know the family context of their students. Of course, the same is true in reverse. It is not uncommon to hear caregivers blaming educators for the challenges their children face and spending time building fences rather than bridges.



Applications

Key Activity

Compassionate Connection to Caregivers Activity – activity for a staff meeting

Wellness Practice

Bringing It All Together Through My Hands — An activity to summarize compassion and self-compassion found in the document to distribute in the information section of the toolkit

Circle Agenda

Staff Circle Agenda, Section Twelve

Supplementary Activities/Handouts

Communicating with Caregivers When There is a Challenge – Handout and possible role-play activity

What to do when I feel attacked by a parent? – Professionally Speaking Article
This is an example of setting compassionate boundaries with caregivers.

Video of Teacher Care Meetings Strategy – Collaborative school, parent and student meeting to support positive changes

Stages of Change Applied to Caregiver Conversations