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How to approach disruptive parents in your baby class

What do you do when you’re running your baby or toddler class and there are a few (usually unknowingly) disruptive parents?

Parents are some of the loveliest people out there, and the absolute best. Creating a space where parents can find their tribe is the main reason class providers do what they do! We absolutely love parents and creating a space where they feel comfortable and welcome.

But, sometimes, there can be an occasion where chatty parents can disrupt an activity. It often leaves class providers in a slightly awkward position. You don’t exactly want to tell the adults to be quiet or embarrass them at all. But, when there’s a disruption in the class that’s potentially ruining the experience for the rest of your attendees, then you are in a tricky predicament.

This is something that was being discussed in our provider community Facebook group. They had plenty of sympathy, and some useful advice to offer too! Here’s some of the things they had to say:

Fighting noise with noise -It can hit or sorely miss

This option had mixed opinions in our Facebook group. For some, they say it’s enough to interrupt the disruptions and keep the class entertaining for the rest of the participants. However, a lot say that it doesn’t help the problem!

A positive and then an instruction: how to quieten disruptive parents in a baby class

This can be the friendlier approach to asking some of the louder parents to quieten down. Start positive, then follow up with an instruction. An example a member of our Facebook group offered was addressing directly to the noisy crew, “I love that the class is so social and happy this morning”. But then follow it with “I’m just go to let you know what the next activity is” or “This is what we are doing now”.

An indirect group instruction

babies sitting together at a baby group

“Get ready, It’s time to make a big Shhhh!”

One of our users said encouraging the kids to say a loud “Shh” in particular helps to catch everyone’s attention. But, otherwise, group instructions like repeating a clapping pattern or singing a song together can help!

Disruptive parents taking over your baby class? Fight the loud with quiet

Disruptive parents in a baby class: toddler holds his finger to his lips in a "shushing" motion

“Fingers on lips everyone!”

A good way to quiten the room is to simply ask for silence. Instead of focusing on the noise, ask for everyone to engage and be quiet together. You can use a prop (such as a glittery magic ‘shushing stick’) to signal to the children and their grown-ups that it is a time to listen.

Make a joke, get a laugh, and then direct the attention back to your activity

baby giggling

We’re often afraid that “telling someone off” in a class can really damage the atmosphere of the group. And we don’t want to create an unpleasant atmosphere for the parents in question. Scolding the parents could be a bit sticky, so try to keep it light-hearted!

“I always make a joke of it I say things like ‘Oh dear, it appears someone isn’t used to listening in class’. It soon gets their attention.”

Consider the venue and the acoustics

Disruptive parents in a baby class: babies at a baby music class

When looking at your venues, consider if this might be where the issue lies. A member of our Facebook group gave the following advice:

“I think it’s also important to consider the acoustics of a space before choosing where to run classes. Shiny floors and high ceilings can make a room seem really noisy with all the sounds echoing around. It’s invisible but can have a huge impact on our ability to be heard, listen, and concentrate.”

What’s left to do about disruptive parents in your baby class? Be direct and honest

Most of the time, people who get carried away catching up with their tribe usually aren’t aware they’re being disruptive. Speaking to them and just being honest can be the best way. A user in our group summed up her approach really well:

“I have been doing this for nearly 10 years and at the beginning, I really struggled stopping the adults from talking. I’ve now learned the following fact – YOU CAN PRETTY MUCH SAY ANYTHING! As long as you are smiling and your voice is friendly…. My main angle is, ‘You have paid for this lovely class so that your children can have a wonderful, fun experience and it really doesn’t work if you don’t join in with them’. I am really clear at the beginning, especially when there are lots of new customers what is expected. ‘We are working together to help your children learn and develop whilst having fun in this session and you are definitely going to be joining in with lots of actions, playing, dancing and singing – even if you don’t think you can sing, your child loves to hear your voice’.”

Do you have a question you want to ask those running a baby and toddler classes?

The perfect place to get in touch with like-minded individuals in the same field as you would be the Happity activity provider Facebook group. Find/offer support and network with other providers easily.

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