Being a child care provider is associated with patience, kindness, love, and nurturing. Typically, the focus for these things is geared towards the children. But you’re a part of a whole household, not just a part of the children’s lives. Parents and the connection needed with them is often forgotten about. Here are a few things to know about parents.
They’re Just As Nervous As You—Maybe Even More
For a care provider, it’s hard to come into a stranger’s home, take charge of their children’s learning and growth, and become part of their family. It’s equally as hard to give up a part of yourself to be nurtured by a stranger, have them in your home while you are gone, and trust them with the things most important to you. Parents often feel guilty going back to work and leaving their kids. And it’s not a guilt that goes away over time.
They Want You To Be An Extension of Their Family
Imagine having to leave your precious baby with a stranger so you can work. Now imagine leaving that baby with a family member. It can be psychologically easier to trust someone who feels like they’re family with your child. This eases some of the anxiety of many parents.
Communication is Key
Don’t be afraid to talk to parents. If you have a suggestion, want to tell them about their kid’s day, want to let them know a bit more about you and your own family at home—go for it! They hired you because you are YOU. Parents are technically your employers, but they are humans and adults just like you are. Always be professional, of course, but be yourself as well.
Be Open To Trying Things Their Way
Even if they have more than one child, we know that every child is different. It’s a whole new learning experience with each child, each age group the children grow into, each new grade, each new child care provider. Everything is new! Sometimes a parent may have heard advice from a friend or family member and want to incorporate it. Even if you strongly feel like their idea won’t work, try it anyway. Be open to letting parents learn through trial and error on their own as long as doing so doesn’t put the child in harm’s way.
Update Them On the Good Stuff Too
So little Mikey headbutted you? Teresa threw a tantrum and spilled her SpaghettiO’s all over the floor? You have concerns regarding the child’s behavior that you need to talk to parents about? These things must be addressed, of course. But also remember to tell parents about the hug that Mikey gave you when you talked to him about hurting others or how Teresa helped you clean up the mess on the floor (even if she just smeared it around more). Parents need to hear the bad AND the good. The “bad” and your suggestions on correcting it gives the parents a chance to parent. The “good” helps parents see that they’re parenting right. It can be disheartening to come in every day expecting to be told how badly your child behaved. Give parents something to smile about after their long day at work!
Be Patient With Them
The same patience that you give the kids, you can give to the parents as well. Parents have bad days too. They have personal things going on in their lives, the kids can be frustrating, work can be demanding, they may have gotten stuck in traffic. Then they still may have to come home and make dinner, help with homework, facilitate bath time for everyone, spend at least a little bit of time with the kids since they haven’t seen them all day (which comes with its own guilt), and get everyone ready for tomorrow and in bed. Then there’s self-care—if they aren’t too tired to take care of themselves. Some days it’s all they can do to shower and flop into bed before starting all over again the next morning. Practice patience and understanding with parents.
You ARE Appreciated!
Parents can sometimes forget to say it, and even forget to show it. But what you do is appreciated. You’re a key part in teaching and raising these children, who will one day become members of society. The types of adults they will become, how they will treat others, how far they will grow depends partially on you and the values that you help to instill. Child care is one of the most important jobs for the future of our entire world. It can be difficult at times, more often due to the parents than the children, but with mutual understanding, patience, and a willingness to compromise and communicate, you and the parents can become partners in helping the future be great!