When it comes to outsiders handling discipline issues with their children, many parents have very strong opinions about what constitutes acceptable or appropriate. This is completely understandable but can lead to conflicts between child care staff and parents when discipline becomes necessary. But are these conflicts inevitable or simply the by-product of a flawed process? Here we’ll look at several things you can do to coordinate your beliefs and wishes with the needs and policies of your day care provider.
Child Care and Discipline – The Importance of a Single Message
Coordination means the development of a single message and single set of procedures that works for both parents and staff. Here are six steps we would recommend parents consider taking to achieve that coordination.
- Ask the child care provider when you are still in the interview stage exactly what their discipline procedures are and get a copy of them. Look them over carefully (including the fine print), taking note of any procedures you find potentially problematic. Finally, discuss any concerns you may have with representatives of the centre until you are sure you are both on the same page.
- If there are methods of discipline that are absolutely unacceptable to you under any circumstances you must inform the centre of these and give them a chance to either agree with your wishes or turn down your application.
- There is nothing good to be gained from partial disclosure. Don’t hide difficult aspects of your child’s personality from the child care centre. This will inevitably lead to problematic situations down the road. For your child’s sake and yours, be forthcoming. Staff members are not mind readers or saints. Don’t assume they are.
- Discuss with your child the possibility that someone at the nursery school may be called upon to discipline them. Explain why this may sometimes be necessary while assuring them that no harm will come to them.
- Some children who exhibit behavioural difficulties early in life actually settle down and thrive in a more structured environment. Others go the opposite way and sometimes the reasons aren’t always obvious. If your child suddenly exhibits uncharacteristically negative behaviour make sure the centre knows to alert you immediately. There may be other causes at work that require professional attention and not discipline.
- Be prepared for any eventuality by developing dependable methods for dealing with situations that may lie outside the bounds of the agreed upon disciplinary procedures. Nations have contingency plans in place in case of unforeseen developments. You should too.
The most important thing is to be open and honest about all aspects of your child’s behaviour as well as your personal beliefs regarding discipline. An open and honest exchange of ideas and facts will result in a workable situation for all involved and allow you to rest easy. On the other hand, a “whatever” attitude, while it may help to avoid conflicts between yourself and the child care centre, will do little but confuse your child with mixed signals about what is acceptable and what isn’t.