Thriving Childcare

How To Avoid The Childcare Client You Can’t Stand

Childcare Client

Do you have THAT childcare client that you have issues with? You know the one. Either you just don’t vibe with them or they don’t seem to like you very much? Well, if you do (or suspect that you do), here’s how to deal with and hopefully save that childcare client relationship.

Childcare Client

What Should You Do About THAT Childcare Client?

By the title, I know you’re probably thinking that we’re going to go directly to the T-word (terminate). Now don’t get me wrong we might get there.  But first, let’s explore some options.

In this post, I’ll show you how maybe by giving your clients some C.A.R.E. might be more beneficial and help you salvage your client.

Over the years, I have been blessed by having some really awesome parents. You know the childcare client that shows up on time, not too early and not too late. The one that pays on-time and sometimes even a little early. The one who follows the rules and hardly ever asks for a favor.

Well, when you read this don’t think about her.

No today we are talking about that OTHER client.

The one who is hardly ever on time. Either she will drop off extra early or pick up late every day. She needs to be “reminded” about tuition every week. She hardly ever pays on time and never, ever early. The one that is always asking for an exception or challenging the rules.

Yep! That one!

What should you do about THAT client?

Even though I have had some really great childcare clients, there have been a few that, to put it mildly, have been a real challenge.

No Water for You

Childcare Client

Once I had a parent accuse me of not giving her child water in the afternoon. She surmised that I was trying to avoid changing another diaper.

YEAH! I know. Can you believe that!

This is the same client who would wait till the very last minute to pay her tuition EVERY WEEK! Back then I had a cut-off that was way too lenient. By the time she paid the tuition the upcoming week’s tuition was nearly due.

Oh, and did I mention that this same client mistakenly texts me (thinking it was her husband) that they should upgrade their vacation airline tickets to First Class since they “had the money.” TRUE STORY!

It turns out, this client had initially wanted a nanny and only when her husband put his foot down did they decide on childcare instead. Basically, she was just looking for a reason to be a problem because she really didn’t want to be here in the first place.

They Were Out of Control

Then I had another client who would routinely go rouge with the rules. They would drop off too late and pick up even later.

They would challenge the sick and illness policy and try to avoid picking up early whenever their child was ill. Once they even tried to send their child right after his diagnosis of pink eye.

Not only that, their child was out of control! Constantly hitting the other children, but crying like he had been hit.

Honestly, I don’t think there was a day that went by that there wasn’t an issue with this family. Serious RED FLAG by the way.

Mean Girls – The Childcare Edition

Yes, I’ve had some real doozies!

But to be honest, despite the fact that I tried my best to decern if a client was ideal or not during the tour, sometimes the mask didn’t come off and problems weren’t revealed until later.

The thing is it might actually be unreasonable to think that every childcare client will be that ideal client we really want. And although for most providers high school is very much in the rearview, we might actually have to deal with our own version of Mean Girls – the childcare edition.

Childcare Client

Showing THAT Childcare Client some C.A.R.E.

But do we always need to terminate THAT client? Or just maybe there’s a way to salvage that client we probably worked hard to acquire.

Turns out there is! It’s called the C.A.R.E. process. And the wonderful thing about this 4-step method is it can be used to decern the childcare client before, during and after enrollment.

Here’s how it goes –

Call-Out & Count

C – Stands for Call it Out and Count. So the first thing we need to do is to identify or “Call Out” the issues we have with a client.

If this is during pre-enrollment, say at the tour – was there anything that stood out. Did they understand your policies? Did they suggest a concern about following any of them?

If this is after enrollment, is the client following or abusing a policy? Do they seem to want it their way or no way? Call-out and recognize the issue.

C – Also stands for Count. So the second thing we need to do is count the infractions. This will help identify how big of a problem there is.

So if this is pre-enrollment, during or after the tour, how many potential problem issues did you identify?

After enrollment? The same. Count how many times the issue has come up.

TIP: Track problem issues with a client by making a note in their file

Related Reading:


Ok, so now that we have identified the issue(s) and how much of a problem they are, we need to ask why it’s a problem.

A – is for Ask

If there is a policy issue that’s the problem, ask yourself do you have a policy about that and/or is it clear? If it is, then ask yourself why does it remain a problem with this client. Finally, ask your client.

Taking the Time to Talk

Don’t underestimate the power of a good talk. Taking the time to sit down with your client and address a problem or concern can move mountains. There could be a disconnect with your client that could easily be solved by a good talk.

I personally think no one but a provider understands what it takes to run a childcare.

Maybe that childcare client doesn’t understand why you have a certain policy or how important it is. Consider being transparent with your client about why a certain policy exists.

Remind & Resolve

R – is for Remind & Resolve

I am a big fan of reminding my clients of policies and procedures at the childcare. Here I talk more about the why and how reminders can be a provider’s best friend.

But R is also for Resolve, i.e. resolving the problem. So after identifying (Call-Out, Ask) the problem(s) with the childcare client, what can be done to resolve the issue.

Resolve to handle the issue!

Let’s say it’s a client that always pays tuition late. Will reminding them when tuition is due help? Or will charging a late fee encourage them to comply with the payment policy?

Thinking of ways to resolve the issue instead of hoping and praying it will right itself is what needs to happen here. Hopefully, this will not lead to terminating the client (more on that next).

Related Reading:

Excuse & Examine

So here it is – should you terminate THAT client?

I told you we would get here.

The last letter in the C.A.R.E. process is …

E – which stands for excuse & examine.

If you have used the C.A.R.E. process, nows the time to look at all the steps you have already taken and decide if it’s time to let them go.

With the two clients I told you about earlier, I was able to apply the C.A.R.E. process and keep the childcare client. But there have been times when that just wasn’t the best course.

If you find that no matter what you do, THAT client is determined not to follow your policies, then excusing them is probably the best action to take.

Going around in circles with the client and getting the same result is not helpful for anyone. Especially not the provider. It can lead to burnout and an even more strained client relationship.

Instead, you could be putting your efforts into finding a new issue-less client. Part of that and the last step in the C.A.R.E. process is to examine the problem you had with THAT client.

  • Was there a way to see it coming?
  • Could you put in place a policy or procedure that could help you avoid the same problem in the future?

Examine what happened, how it happened and how you could avoid it from happening again.

So before you grab the nearest crayon and start scribbling out that termination letter, let’s give that client some CARE. See if there’s a way to turn it around and keep THAT childcare client.

Related Reading:
I would love to know if you’ve ever had a childcare client that you just had issues with? How did you handle it? What worked and what didn’t? Please leave your answer in a comment below.

Share Post

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Adrienne Bradley Thriving Childcare

Hey there, I'm Adrienne. I help daycare providers like you create businesses they love!

Are you ready to create a thriving childcare business?  Let me show you just how build a business that is profitable and sustainable!

childcare template subscription
Get Childcare Templates Every Month!
Run Your Business + Save Time!
New Provider's Club
Join The New Provider's Club - $7
free daycare contract
Get This FREE Daycare Contract


There are some things I only share with our subscribers – get on the list & never miss out!