Child Care: Raising Children Together
Child care is a partnership. Good child care provides parents with an extended family to help share in the challenges and joys of raising children. As a parent, you may be more successful in using child care if you remember the following:
- Child care is a process, not a one-time decision that you make and don’t think about again. Finding good child care is only the first step. Working in partnership with others who provide care for your child requires attention.
- Before you look for child care think about what is important to you as a parent. This will help you share the task of parenting with your child care provider.
- Don’t take child care for granted. Pay on time, pick your child up on time, provide the supplies your provider needs, and complete all the paper work required.
- Periodically reassess your child care situation. Is it working for you? Is it working for your child? Ask your provider if it’s working for him or her.
- Consider child care to be an important part of your family.
Areas for Parent-Child Care Provider Partnerships
Here are some issues where you and your child care provided need to partner.
Developing Good Eating Habits in Children
It’s not uncommon for you to worry about how your child is eating. Because your child is in child care, you may feel a loss of control over your child’s eating habits. You will probably also notice that your child’s eating patterns will change. You may notice some of the following changes.
- Your child will probably be exposed to a variety of foods in child care.
- Being with other children, especially if they are at different ages, may help your child develop better feeding skills.
- If eating is a struggle between you and your child, it may have become a power issue. A more relaxed eating atmosphere in a child care setting can, in fact, be better for your child. You cannot expect your provider to use food to direct your child’s behavior.
- The meal pattern at child care may make it necessary to change your family meal schedule. Check your provider’s menus regularly. This helps you plan meals for your family that complement what is being served at child care.
Your Child May Bite or Get Bitten
Biting is one of the toughest issues to deal with for parents and providers. When children bite, providers need to balance the concerns of all the parents. If your child is biting you may feel:
- Guilty because your child is harming others.
- Concerned about your child’s relationship with other people.
- Ashamed because your child’s behavior reflects your skills as a parent.
If your child is biting, you need to work closely with your provider in finding ways to handle the behavior. Try to deal with your child in the same manner that the provider does. If something works, tell each other so you can both try it.
If you’re a parent with a child in child care where biting is going on, you may feel:
- Guilty because you’ve put your child in a situation where they could get harmed.
- Angry at the caregiver and/or the biting child and their parents
If your child is in care with a biter, understand that biting is disruptive for all the children and makes the provider’s job more difficult. Find out what your provider is doing to deal with the situation. Blaming the child won’t help. Understanding why they are biting and finding ways to redirect this behavior is part of the provider’s job. Try to remain calm. Biting will not go on forever.
Toilet Training Is a Shared Responsibility
Having a child in group care can be helpful when it comes to toilet training. Your child may become interested in toilet training earlier because he or she will see other children using the bathroom. Rely on your provider’s experience to know when your child is ready to begin training and to help you understand how the process is going. Don't expect immediate success overnight.
Here are some suggestions on how you can cooperatively work on toilet training with your provider:
- Talk about the signs your child is showing that would indicate he or she is ready to begin training. It’s important that you both agree on when to begin training.
- Agree on how you will both work on the toilet training process. Use the same techniques.
- Know your child’s daily schedule. When you’re home make sure you bring your child to the bathroom on a similar schedule to child care.
- Try to use the same rituals and words.
- Try to use the same method of praise or reinforcement when your child uses the toilet successfully.
- Find out how the provider handles toileting accidents. It’s best not to make a big issue out of it or let other children ridicule your child. At home, try to do the same.
- Make sure you provide plenty of changes of clothing so your child will have clean clothing in the event of an accident.
- Be familiar with your provider’s toilet facilities. Your home may have different equipment. It’s good to understand the differences so you can draw comparisons for your child.
Celebrating Holidays and Birthdays in Child Care
It’s a good idea to find out how providers deal with holidays before you select child care. This is particularly true if you have specific beliefs about observing holidays.
Working together with your provider can make celebrations fun for all the children in his or her care. Find out what is expected of parents. For example, are children allowed to bring treats on their birthdays? Would your provider prefer you bring other items like hats and toys? What is the policy for exchanging gifts?
Religious holidays can be an opportunity to teach all the children about the different ways families celebrate. If you celebrate holidays that are different from those celebrated by the other children in child care, it’s a good opportunity to share your traditions with the provider. First see if it is appropriate to celebrate in the child care setting. If you have strong feelings about particular holidays, let your provider know.
Working Together on Guiding Your Child’s Behavior
As a parent, you have certain rules that you expect your child to learn and follow. Your caregiver also has a set of rules that the children he or she cares for must follow. When you choose a provider, find out what their rules are and how the provider will work with your child when he or she breaks a rule.
Minnesota licensing rules states: "Discipline by caregivers must be constructive, positive, and suited to the age of the child. Methods of intervention, guidance, and redirection must be used... No discipline will be used which is physically or emotionally harmful to a child. Discipline will not be used which is humiliating or frightening and will not be related to food, toilet training, or napping."
Children need to learn self-control over their behavior so that they will act appropriately when their parent or caregiver isn’t there. You and your caregiver can work together to establish similar rules for your child to follow. Work cooperatively, using the same guidance methods to help your child build self-control.
Child Care Food: What Will My Child Eat — Your child will also learn, think, play, and work with others better if they are eating right.