When it comes to parenting, there are few people who are better apt to give advice than those who work in a daycare center.
Early childhood educators who work in child care work with large groups of young children day in and day out, and are used to dealing with behaviors and “temper tantrums”. So here is some advice from the experts themselves:
1) Spend time with your children – Children need time with their parents. You mold your children into the people that they become, and you can’t do any molding if your child is set in front of a television. Yes, it’s okay to have some down time and watch a movie together, but don’t be afraid to get active with your children too. Why not go out to a movie together instead? Head to the park? Go for a walk? Play a game? There are hundreds of things that you and your child can do together. And of course, the more you do together, the closer the bond you will have, and the closer the bond you have, the more influence you will have on your child’s behavior and choices.
2) Be a good role model – Speaking of behaviors and choices, always remember that you are your child’s number one role model. Sure, the Early Childhood Educators at your child’s daycare center also play a large role, but you are the person who has the singlemost influence on your child. You are your child’s superhero, and they want to be just like you. They are watching everything you do, and will model your behavior. So make good choices, and act in ways you want your child to act.
3) Be consistent – When it comes to child care, there are few things that go a longer way than consistency. If you want your child to develop routines and learn how to manage their emotions, you need to be consistent. If your child knows they can walk all over you, they will. If you say no, mean it. If you promise an hour at the park, take your child to the park. If you say bedtime is at 8:00, enforce bedtime at 8:00. If you say no television until their room is clean, don’t let them watch television until their room is clean. When you are consistent with your child, they begin to respect your word, and the more they respect your word, the more they will respect of you and the things that you ask of them.
4) Remember that your child is a person who is just starting to learn life – Sometimes we forget that children are, well, children. We often hold them at the same standards that we hold adults, and that’s simply not fair. As adults, we have have time to adapt to the world around us, learn what is right and what is wrong, learn what works for managing our emotions and what doesn’t work, and so on and so forth. Children have not had this time. They are still learning. And if you have ever ever noticed, a good daycare center employee will never refer to a child as being “bad”. This is because children are not choosing their behaviors, they simply have not learned how to manage their emotions yet. When they feel anxious, they don’t know how to calm themselves down, so they throw a temper tantrum. When they don’t get what they want, they don’t know how to handle that, so they throw at toy or bite. Remember, your child is new to this world. They don’t have all of the tools that we do. So the next time your child is throwing a tantrum, don’t get upset with them. Try to figure out what is bothering them, and teach them how to manage their emotions along the way.
5) Let your child spread their wings – On the complete flip side of holding our children to adult standards, sometimes we baby them too much. Our children are often capable of much more than we give them credit for. In fact, parents who enroll their children into child care are often astonished at the things their child can do. “My toddler helps to clean up the classroom? No way!” “My 4 year old used a hammer? Is that safe?” Of course it is. Now we’re not saying give your 3 year a hammer and let them run freely with it – that’s just asking for trouble. But it’s okay to give your a child a hammer, and show them (hand-over-hand) how to use it properly and safely. By setting expectations for your child, like picking up their toys, they learn that to have faith in themselves (and yes, toddlers CAN clean a room). And when you allow your children to try new things, they learn independence and confidence.
6) Let your kids get dirty – Think back to when you were a child. What were your best memories? We can’t speak for you, but when most people are asked this question, the answer is usually related to being outdoors. Let your child explore their environment. Let them play in the mud. Let them jump in puddles. Let them examine that leaf. Let your kids be kids! Every outdoor experience is a learning experience. Dirt will wash off, but the memories you give your child by letting them explore will stay with them forever.
7) Let your child fall – Did you know that 9 times out of 10 we are the reason our children cry after they fall? Our toddler is trying to run, they fall, and our initial reaction is – “Uhhhh!” – and there it is, that’s all it takes to set the tears in motion. But here’s a tip from a daycare center – your child is extremely tough and resilient. The next time your toddler falls, try this – don’t react. Be there if they need your comfort, but in most cases, they will get right back up and start running again – no tears. And this doesn’t just apply to falls. If your child fails at tying their shoelaces, don’t rush to their aide – let them keep trying. If your child can’t figure out how to put the puzzle back together, let them keep trying. Don’t be a “saver”. Be there when your child needs help and support, but let them do their own thing as much as possible. Letting your child fall and fail is how they learn, and letting them problem solve on their own will teach them valuable problem solving and independence skills that they will need later in life.
8) Reinforce positive behaviors – Have you ever heard that “negative attention is better than no attention at all?” Well, when we react to our child’s poor behaviors, we are giving them what is know as negative reinforcement. We are giving them the attention that they are seeking (even if it is negative), and reinforcing their bad behaviors. But instead of punishing our child’s bad behaviors, we need to reinforce the positive ones. Ignore the negative behaviors, and reward a clean room with ice cream!
So there you have it – 8 valuable tips from child care workers at a daycare center. Take these tips with you on a day to day basis, and remember to be patient with your child – they are new to the world and still learning – it’s your job to help them learn healthy behaviors and skills as they grow.