… to feel frustrated/angry/unappreciated?! Don’t worry, you’re not alone. We asked counsellor Rona Waldon-Saunders for her advice on some common PTA gripes


hile being involved in your school’s PTA can, of course, be incredibly rewarding, not to

mention a great way to make friends and feel closer to your school community, it’s not without its challenges. Whether it’s dealing with ungrateful parents, difficult teachers or unwelcoming committee members, being on a PTA can be tough – especially when you consider that it’s a voluntary role. Here, Rona advises on how to deal with some of the most talked-about issues on our PTA forums.

Our PTA committee is really cliquey! If you’re not part of the ‘A team’ then

it’s really hard to get your opinion heard, or even be acknowledged by them. Sometimes I wonder why I even bother to turn up to meetings. How can I get them to include me and listen to my ideas?

Feeling thwarted in getting our opinions heard can be a common problem. Those

in the ‘A team’ can dominate, which can lead to resentment and you may feel upset and discouraged, as if your opinions do not matter. It can help to recognise that in most cases this is not an intentional rejection of your input – rather, when these dynamics occur, people are often less confident than they appear and dominate discussions in order to

boost their own self-esteem. In order to maintain harmony, could you go to the most approachable member of this group individually with one of your ideas? This may make them more able to hear your suggestions and get them on board. You could say something like: ‘I thought you might like this idea, Sarah…’ to get their attention. You could also put across your ideas via another platform, such as email or Facebook, using the same tactics. Perhaps you could speak to the PTA chair about your concerns? Or you could suggest a social activity to encourage inclusion of all members. Of course, if you feel too upset you may need to consider how much energy you wish to expend on this.

Parents at our school are quick to criticise PTA initiatives and can also be

very negative (and rude!) about the PTA – and the school in general – on our parents’ Facebook page. How should we respond? It is very easy to criticise the efforts of others without doing anything helpful

ourselves! This is particularly likely to occur online, where people feel freer to voice negative opinions. There are a number of different ways in which to approach this. It is wise to have social media rules and guidelines in place, with a clear indication that rudeness and negativity are not acceptable in this group. A mediator (there can be more than one) can remind parents to offer constructive criticism and positive ideas – and remove rude or aggressive comments, if necessary. Sometimes people can be critical when they feel ignored or have been unable to get their suggestions SUMMER 2019 17


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