The Ways of Children in Child Care
Described here are some of the child's behaviors that frequently cause concern/problems for the child in child care, and therefore for the provider and parent. These behaviors are, however, signs that the child is developing in a normal and healthy way. A child's temperament has much to do with how he adjusts to new environments and how he interacts with other children and adults. The three temperaments are: friendly, fearful, and feisty.

1.. "You're kidding, all this screaming and clinging is a healthy sign?" Yes, babies begin to "make strange noises" as Grandma called it, somewhere between 4-6 months of age. The experts call this "stranger anxiety." At about the same age, babies begin to suffer from "separation anxiety." Both of these events will show up in varying degrees and at different times until the child is 2 to 3 years of age. These are indeed signs that the baby is developing normally. The parent(s) usually are the first people the baby learns to trust. When the people he trusts most leave him with strangers, he becomes frightened, clings and screams. (Wouldn't you if you had no idea what was going to happen to you in the midst of a bunch of aliens?) So what are the parent(s) and provider(s) to do?

a.. If you, the parent, are feeling guilty or embarrassed, try instead to see this clinging and screaming as the healthy and normal behavior that it is. Your baby has formed his first strong attachment in life with you and now it is time to allow him to form attachments with others.

b.. You, the provider, must remember that the baby's reaction does not mean he is spoiled or dislikes you. Whether he chooses to turn away from you or demands to be carried by you his every waking moment for the next three weeks, try to understand his fear. Give him your support. You will find that by giving the baby lots of extra attention, the baby will learn to trust and bond with you, getting over his fear.

c.. Both of you must keep in mind that some babies may take weeks or even months to adjust to the child care environment, while others make take only a few days. Be sure to plan enough time for any child 2 years and younger to adjust. Giving up and changing child care too soon will only cause the child further anxieties as he has to start adjusting somewhere else.

d.. Plan at least two "getting acquainted" visits so that the child can begin getting to know the provider and the new surroundings while the parents are present.

f.. Once a child seems over his/her initial problems of separation, this behavior may still reoccur periodically due to his developmental stage or other changes in his life.


2.. Good "good-byes" are important.

a.. Parents, say good-bye the same way each day. Say that you are going and when you will be back. Give your child a kiss, a hug, and then leave, even if the child is crying. In other words, don't sneak out, don't rush out, but don't prolong the separation trauma either. Provider, encourages the child to say good-bye, comfort the child and reassure the child that the parent will return. Your child learns that you do come back each day.

b. Parents, do your best to have a consistent pick-up time. When left overtime, many children become frightened that they have really been forgotten. Parent and provider, work out a plan that will be the least frightening. Make arrangements with the provider ahead of time if you need to be late and tell your child. If you don't know ahead of time, please phone to talk to your provider and talk to your child also, or make arrangements for someone else to pick up your child that the child knows well.

3.. Any changes in child care are a BIG DEAL for a little child.
a.. Provider, there may be times when due to an emergency, a personal appointment, etc., You will need to call on a reliable substitute to take your place. Make arrangements with a responsible adult to be available for back up child care. Remember-this person must have a fingerprint clearance with Community Care Licensing and have 15 hours of Health and Safety Training-including CPR and First Aid. Be sure to let the parent know who the substitute helper is and when you will be gone.

b.. Parent, for times such as your provider's vacation or when your child is ill and you are not able to stay home with him you will need a substitute caregiver. Make arrangements with a relative or friend that your child knows who can be available for such care.

c. Provider and parent, If back up provider is a stranger to the child/children, make sure that there is plenty of time for the child/children and new adult to get to know each other. It is a good idea to have that adult visit the children at child care/home several times before actual care is needed.

3.. Some other puzzling behaviors designed to turn parents gray and providers to think about a different career.

a. Child can't stand to leave the parent in the morning or the child care at night: The child might seem to simply be obstinate, but it is more likely a sign that he isn't ready to give up what he is enjoying at the moment. He may be going through a period when any change is difficult. In the mornings, parents can help by having a consistent routine and in the afternoons, providers can help by having children ready to go home when parent arrives. As child matures, he will be able to handle changes easier.

b.. The "My Mom/provider lets me do it" syndrome: With patience and firmness, parent(s) and providers can help the child understand that each place has it's own rules. Children are quite capable of learning to live with the rules for each "home" as long as they are clearly explained and followed through on a consistent basis.

c.. Child turns into a monster at the sight of the parent(s): He runs, jumps, hides, turns in- to a helpless baby or makes demands when parent arrives. It is quite normal for a child to take advantage of a situation where he/she senses that the "rule setters" no longer seem sure of who the "rule keeper" is. Parents and providers should decide who should be in charge when both are present. They should also make it clear to the child that the rules in the child care home remain the same whether the parent is there or not.

d. The child's tendency to mix mountains and molehills often causes the parent(s) or provider(s) concern: It is important to listen and be interested in what the child has to say, but remember, his communication skills are still in the growing sages. When he says that he was "left alone all night" or "had nothing but peanut butter sandwiches to eat all week," chances are that's his version of being left alone was for three minutes while his parents checked on the laundry or that his favorite lunch happens to be peanut butter sandwiches. When one of his stories causes either of you concern, check it out with each other in order to avoid misunderstanding.

e. Is a Mother still "Mother" by any other name? Children in child care often get names and titles of the adults in their lives confused. When a child begins to call the child care provider "Mommy," chances are it is because he hears the provider's own children refer to her as "Mommy." He may also perceive Mommies as "people who take care of you." The provider cares for him, therefore she must be "Mommy" too. Both parent and provider can be assured that he will always know who his real Mother and Father are. He should never be denied the care and affection he needs at day care for fear that this will rob his parents of his affection. With time and your understanding and patience, he'll get the names and titles sorted out.

f. The thumb sucking blanket dragger: Infants who find their thumbs to pacify themselves are considered very capable by child care experts. They have developed some means of self comforting under stress-such as being tired or being in a new environment. Preschoolers may also need a comfort item of some sort such as a blanket or stuffed animal. In most cases, it is better to allow the child to comfort himself as he wishes. As time goes on and child adapts to new environment and feels comfortable, it is time to encourage him to leave his comfort item in his cubby until it is time for nap or time to go home. Sometimes a child can be so concerned about his comfort item that it prevents him from participating in daily activities. It may be a sigh when the child is overly dependent on a security item that the parent and provider should give him some additional attention for awhile. Usually a child becomes less and less dependent on his security item and it can be left at home.

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