Whenever a child leaves my care, either graduating or the family moves, I ask the parents to complete a withdrawal form. At the bottom of the form are three questions where I ask what they liked about our program, what they didn’t like and what we could do to make our program better. I started this practice early on when I started the childcare.
it would be unrealistic for a parent to think that every day was perfect
I remember one year in particular when a parent filled out the form. She asked was this information going to help me or help my business. I assured her absolutely that I was very sincere in asking what could be done better. She said there was only one thing. Every day on the daily notes it was said that her daughter had a great day. She said although she understood why that was said, it wasn’t really unrealistic. She said knowing her child and how she was at home, there were some days that weren’t so great. She said it would be unrealistic for a parent to think that every day was perfect.
I took her observation to heart. She was absolutely right. After all, children are little people. And just like us big people nobody has great days every day. This is actually a point that I express to parents all the time.
As providers, it is common to feel a bit uncomfortable communicating less than positive information about the children we care for. We want to assure the parents that we care for their children so telling them “bad” things makes us feel bad in turn. They are our clients after all. But we have an important responsibility to be the early child care professional here.
I believe in empowering the parent
Ever since that parent’s observation, I’ve made it a point to be truthful when it comes to conveying information about a child on their daily notes. I ask my staff to express good and difficult days on the children’s notes. I believe in empowering the parent and reinforcing their role in parenting their child by equipping them with accurate information about their child’s demeanor is very important.
bring up any developmental stages that might be leading to the behavior
After a long day away from their child, imagine a parent returning to pick up their child. The last thing they want to hear is a bad report. While it may be hard for them to hear, most parents do want to know if everything is OK and when things are not OK with your child. Sometimes that comes in the form of a bad day. I can be tricky and a bit uncomfortable to give parents less than positive news. Whenever we can we note information on the child’s daily note but often try to soften the blow by talking with the parent at pick up time as well. This gives us a chance to ask if there are any issues going on in the child’s life that would cause them to be upset or to be acting out. Are there any recent changes at home or in the family? I can also then bring up any developmental stages that might be leading to the behavior. Young children go through periods where they try to test boundaries. This is their way of seeing what power they have. After all, they are still trying to figure out this right and wrong stuff.
This is also a good opportunity to establish yourself as a resource and a supportive role for the parent as well as giving credibility to your program. For many parents this stage is new to them too. They are not quite sure what to do. It is also helpful if you can offer tips and strategies to help the child and reassure a parent.
We always try to end with something good.
It is also a good practice to try and end on a positive note. Simply by stating something like “everybody has a bad day now and again” or “we’ll have a better day tomorrow”, might put to rest a parents concerns about a possible behavioral problem. We always try to end with something good. Try to find something positive in the child’s day and to give them praise for that as well. Most parents will be more receptive to the not so good news if you are just as willing to give them the good news too.
How do you tell parents if their child had a bad day? How is it usually received?