Saturday, September 17, 2005

day care woes

There was a recent question to the TCS list about a pre-verbal child who protests at the transition to day care, but then goes on to have a lovely time (according to the day care providers). I responded as my thoughts developed, in several messages. This is more structured.

1. Let’s assume that the child really does enjoy going to day care while the parent works. The parent needs to be pretty sure of this assumption before working on it.

It may be that all that is needed is a different approach to the transition. Allow an extra hour for mooching around the puddles in the day care car park, or for playing with the child at day care? 5 minutes of puddle hopping seems a long time when you are late, but nothing at all when you have an hour's leeway.

Alternatively, perhaps the child would prefer to be taken to day care by hir father, or maybe they'd rather say goodbye at home, and have another trusted adult take them to day care?

A good threshold game is playing peek-a-boo around the door one hopes the child will eventually want to go through. And making sure one goes on playing peek-a-boo with furniture props well into the room. Maybe one of the day care staff could be primed to go on with the peek-a-boo game? Then child's transition to day care could be very gradual.

2. Let’s assume that the child does not want to go to day care. Parents now need to brainstorm WILDLY.

Perhaps one parent could do their work at home or in the evenings, perhaps with a baby sitter in the house (a trusted teen? A devoted grandparent?). Perhaps a parent could take the child to work with them (either on an occasional basis, so they can see what is happening when they are at day care, or even on a regular basis). Perhaps two people could job share, each looking after their combined children in one of their houses while the other works.

Perhaps one of the parents would like to stop working for money and be at home with the child?

It would certainly be worth doing the maths of income minus day care = remainder and think of other ways which would make parent happy to earn that remainder, not involving child care.

3. If the current situation involves leaving the child crying in the day care provider's arms, the parent is teaching their child a big lesson: "when the chips are down, parent cannot be relied upon for assistance". Will that not come back and bite the parent later on? It has to damage the parent/child relationship, quite apart from not taking the child's NEED not to be left seriously.

4. I think it is also worth bearing in mind that children are designed to be pretty well glued to parents or similarly close carers until sometime in their second year, at least. The nursery scenario is a cheap way of enabling parents to work, but it is not optimum for many children ever, depending on personality.

IME, children thrive in small mixed-age groups rather than in same-age groups, which most nurseries don't offer. A 4 year old is much more interesting to a 2 year old than another 2 year old is.

Sure, we have to be creative to be parents as well as earning money; the difficulties associated with finding ways of paying the bills do not excuse following the herd and abandoning our children to something sub-optimal, however.


Jim Naka said...
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Anonymous said...

I stumbled on your blog, and hence this post, quite by accident... Small world, as I'm the one that wrote to the list in question. (And, admit to dropping out of the discussion due to the tone of the very first reply and, later, fears of not being able to avoid "meta" or "too many personal details" in any replies on-list... Sorry about that.)

In case you're interested, a short update on the situation with daycare is: our daughter is now (consistantly, for about a month) willing and even eager to go to daycare in the mornings...

We're are not sure what exactly brought about the radical change--which took place literally overnight. Without our implementing any of daycare's suggestions (ugh! don't get me started on their awful (from an AP or TCS or UP standpoint) parenting advice), and before we could advance much further in our reflections on how to deal with the situation.

Our best guess is that there was (we learned just as the situation "resolved itself") a certain degree of tension about us parents among the daycare staff stemming from misunderstanding/rejection of our (fairly TCS-friendly) style of parenting by the daycare staff, as well as a "labelling" of the child as "overly attached to mom" by dc staff (which I insisted to them is not the same as "refusing daycare", BTW)--both of which were coloring the daycare staff's attitude to our child and us, me in particular.

Daycare finally called me in to two 2+ hour meetings to bring up their "concerns" and "address certain issues" they had with "my behavior". The (painful) four hours seems to have relieved the staff considerably and adjusted their attitudes to and and how they behave towards our daughter...

We now believe that our daughter was most likely protesting one or the other (of both) of their attitudes/issues (either re: her or re: me). Once daycare "cleared the air" on their end, her reason to protest going was gone... the change was simultaneous with their "relief".

Sorry for the novel! But I thought you might like an update...

Thank you for the suggestions given on the list and for how they were framed.


emma said...

Nice to "see" you here!

It had not even occured to me that child might be picking up on day care staff weirdness... glad that it resolved quickly.