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Resolving Differences

Dear Debi,
I work in a large home day care. We have a 22-month old whose mother thinks should be in the preschool that we offer. Her child is not speaking yet and we feel sheís too young to follow along with older children. How do we explain this to her without creating animosity between us?
Karen , Clovis, CA
Debi's Tips
Debi Gutierrez
Debi Gutierrez
  • Discuss rules and expectations from the beginning
  • Maintain ongoing, personal conversations every day
  • Address conflicts openly and focus on solutions
Expert Advice
Julie Ruelas
Julie Ruelas
Early childhood development specialist
Early communication is really important in preventing differences in the first place. Before a child starts in your care, I recommend having an in-depth discussion with the parents during the interview process. Informal providers or grandmothers taking care of grandchildren should also initiate a conversation at the beginning.

Set guidelines and expectations verbally or through a written contract. Supply parents with a handbook of rules that both the parent and provider understands. Remember to touch base for a few minutes every day with parents personally. During these times, be ready to share with them what happened during the day and be ready to answer any questions from parents.

A good way to communicate with parents is using bulletin boards. If you go to a class or workshop and want to post handouts for information on parenting, posting them on the board is a great way to share information with parents. You can also post schedules, activities that you will be doing, including simple lesson plans, menus for the week, and even pictures of what kids do throughout the day. This helps parents keep in touch with whatís going on and you can change out the information often.

If your child care is your business, itís important for you to get paid for your services. For business reasons, you should be clear about when you will be paid and what will happen if a child is sick or when a parent is late to pick a child up. All of these things are potential issues that can arise later if itís not already laid out in a contract.

For informal providers, I would even recommend writing certain things down for parents to help them remember things that are important for the child care. If there are special instructions that need to be conveyed, then writing things down for them can be helpful.

When differences arise with parents, focus on finding solutions instead of assigning blame. You always want to take into consideration the ethical code of conduct. NAEYC has an ethical code of conduct as to what to do. The guidelines remind you that you have to respect parents, children, and take their needs into consideration.

Always have control of your emotions Ė never shout at parents and remember to keep your cool. Remember you are trying to get parents to work with you. Speak to parents using ďIĒ messages such as ďI understand you want this for your child, but this is the policy of our program.Ē This will help in negotiating through difficult situations.

If youíve tried resolving the difference by talking to parents and it still doesnít resolve an issue, and the parents continue to break child care rules on a regular basis, then sometimes you have to let parents know you simply canít continue providing services. You can write a friendly letter asking them to look for other child care and make sure to give them enough time to make alternative arrangements.
Child Care provider Comments
Family child care provider for 4 years
One way of making sure that parents really know what you are doing is by forging an open relationship with parents from the beginning. Itís important for parents and providers to be understanding and listen to each other and work together for the good of their children. I am very happy to say that I have never had a parent leave my program due to unresolved conflict. We always work it out.
Consuelo Ducoing
Consuelo Ducoing
Child care provider for 14 years
As a nanny, I go to the childís house to take care of her. Sometimes, itís confusing to children as to who is in charge and how much power they have, since it is their home. I once had a situation where I looked after a 3 and a half year old. When I arrived for the day, her mom was still at home. The child began to act out trying to get her motherís attention. I tried to get her to behave appropriately without much success.

One day, the little girl got really upset about something and literally slammed the door in my face. When this happened, I talked to her mom and told her I needed her help. I knew the little girl was acting that way because she was trying to get her momís attention, so I needed her mother to leave when I arrived. The mother understood and agreed to do this. I also asked her to get the little girl to apologize to me for being disrespectful. The mother was very cooperative and really worked with me to make things work.
Clarissa August
Clarissa August
Family child care provider for 21 years
Because I have my own family, one of the things that ends up happening quite a bit is that my life turns into almost a 24-hour day job. Even if itís ďafter hours,Ē I find that my own grown kids still want me to be on duty. Itís hard for me to turn them down, but there are some instances where Iím simply too tired to watch them at the end of the day.

When this happens, I have to sit down and talk seriously with my grown children and explain to them that I really donít feel well and I just canít watch the grandchildren at that moment. Things can be more complicated because weíre family, but at the same time, because weíre family, we have a closer bond and loving relationship, so I feel at liberty to speak openly and honestly with them.
Parent Comments
Mother of two children, her son is in child care with Darlene
I knew Darlene, one of the providers on the show, and had a good relationship with her because she had taken care of my first child who is now in elementary school. But we had a situation when my son first started with Darlene where I had a two-hour commute to and from Darleneís every day. The day care closes at 6 pm and I just wasnít able to pick him up on time. The late pick-up happened for about the first month and I would call her every day to tell her I was going to be late or that I needed someone else to pick him up. She became concerned for a couple of reasons.

My constantly changing who was on the pick-up list, meant she never knew half the people and didnít feel comfortable letting him go with someone she didnít know at all, even though I approved it. Her other concern with his late pick-up was that he was always the last child to be picked up. She was concerned how that might impact his self-esteem. She said that it was fine to be last every once in a while, but it happening every day wasnít healthy for him. I discussed it with her and together we came up with some solutions.

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Topic: Child Care Management
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