A study of child care in 2010 found that only 40% of children in daycare programs were provided high-quality care. Children who spent more hours in child care programs showed a higher tendency towards impulsive and risk-taking behaviors at the age of 15 as opposed to children who spent less time in child care settings. Child care programs have the ability to shape the futures of the countless children who spend time beneath their roofs. It’s a unique and heavy responsibility only child care providers can truly understand.
For the majority of children today, child or after school program care is an essential and integral part of their lives. Preschool age children with employed mothers spend an average of 36 hours in child care each week. As such, child care staff often provide the second greatest influence over a child’s formative years next to his or her parents. Child care management can be a great responsibility with many challenges, but it can also provide some of the greatest rewards. To help you in your day-to-day child care management, we’ve created this how-to on guiding children’s behavior in organized child care programs.
Top Four Tips on Guiding Children’s Behavior in Child Care Management
- Be simple and clear with rules and choices
Don’t make a secret of the rules. Discuss them openly with your children and allow for input from older children. Successful child care management depends on not only the rules you set but also how well they are obeyed. Have clearly defined rules written down where everyone can see them, and repeat them often. The simpler the better.
Likewise, only offer children a choice when there is one for them to make. For instance, if it’s naptime don’t phrase taking a nap as a question (e.g. “Are you ready to lie down now?”). It’s not really the child’s choice if your rules state that everyone lies down at nap time. Like child care management, children need structure. When there are choices to be made, make them simple and clear; but when there isn’t a choice, don’t use language that suggests there is one.
- Be direct
Similar to the point above, say what you mean when you speak to your children. Take care in the words you use, particularly when you’re trying to guide their behavior. Short sentences that focus on what a child should do rather than what she shouldn’t do are best. For instance: instead of telling a child not to run, ask her to walk; instead of telling her not to shout, ask her to use a quiet voice. With child daycare management, learn to think in terms of “do” instead of “don’t.”
- Speak with children, not at them
You’ll be far more effective if you talk with children at their eye level as opposed to talking at them from above. Bend down to their eye level and place a hand on their shoulder to ensure you have his attention. Try not to lecture or shout at children as they’ll be far more prone to tune you out. Instead, foster a dialogue by giving children the opportunity to respond. If they do speak, take care to actively listen to what they have to say so they feel heard and learn that what they think matters. Remember, as a child care management professional, you’re shaping these children’s future perceptions of how they fit in the world. A child who feels unseen is far more likely to become an impulsive and risk-taking 15-year-old.
- Lead by example
Children are like cameras: they record everything they see. What’s more, they’re always watching you, even when you don’t realize it. They observe how you interact with those around you, from the other children in your program to your staff and parents. When you’re frustrated or upset, they see it. You can’t be expected to – – nor should you try to – – be happy all the time. In fact, letting your children see you cope with life’s ups and downs in a healthy way can be one of the greatest lessons you impart on your children. Just remember to take care in the example you set, because you are always setting an example.