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Tame monster parents - don't give them tea

Official Japanese manual gives tips to teachers

IT'S A move that will strike a chord with beleaguered teachers worldwide.

Japanese authorities have issued a manual on how to deal with "monster parents"- the mothers and fathers who make teachers' lives a misery.

The handbook, issued to all schools by the Iwate government in northern Japan, advises staff on how to fob off doting parents and even on when to refer irate mothers to the local psychiatric ward.

It has been issued in response to the rise of demonstrative parents, whom commentators believe are a product of the spread of American-style individualism.

Masayuki Kobayashi, who runs a helpline for troubled teachers at Tokyo's Integrated Research Centre for Educational Practice, said: "Since the 1970s, Japan has seen a cult of individualism grow slowly. Schools have become a convenient place to take out your frustrations about daily life."

Which is a rude awakening for the country's teachers, who could once rely on the respect of their local community.

The manual advises them to meet the offending parties on school premises, to outnumber them with staff and to refuse them refreshment.

"DO NOT extend the usual hospitality to troublesome parents by offering them tea," instructs the guide. "Some of the parents will appear confused and perhaps verging on the manic. If you suspect they may be suffering from mental health problems refer them to the public health authorities."

The Americanisation of Japanese life has also taken effect in Tokyo, where officials have hired lawyers to fight the increasing number of legal disputes between schools and parents. Information released by the local education board cites the case of one father who demanded compensation for his son's telephone bill after the school he attended banned mobile phones, thus depriving him of potential cheaper calls.

How Japan advises staff to deal with difficult mums and dads

The doting

They are In constant communication with the school. Teachers should treat legitimate concerns sensitively, but don't feel pressured to give them all your time.

The self-defensive

They believe themselves and their child to be never at fault. Teachers should remain calm and diffuse their barrage of criticism by smiling.

The narcissistic

They think the world revolves around them and hate to be ignored. You should choose your words carefully and treat them with respect, even if they don't deserve it.

The practical joker

They enjoy causing mischief and seeing teachers suffer. You should avoid them where possible and call in reinforcements if they ask for a meeting.

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