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Working As A Team: Parents and Child Care Providers Collaborate on Discipline

When most people hear the word discipline, they envision some sort of punishment, but in reality, discipline simply is encouraging good behavior through teaching. In the complex realm of discipline, both at home and at the child care center, many old stereotypes prevail with a modern twist. Some parents closely align with the old adage of "wait till your father gets home" but replace the father figure with the child care teacher. The new line is "wait till I tell Ms. Kathy what you did."

There are many problems associated with this type of discipline including:

1. Discipline issues with preschoolers have to be addressed when the offense occurs. The consequence should be immediate and natural. If a four year old hits his brother because he wants the toy that the brother has, the appropriate way to ask for a toy should be taught to the child and the consequence could be that they cannot have the toy for a period of time. The consequence should fit the crime.

2. Preschool children do not have a long attention span or the ability to recall events accurately, another reason for immediate discipline. Telling a teacher of an offense that occurred the evening before or even the morning of, has little benefit for the child.

3. As a parent you are the most important teacher of your child and displacing the power of discipline to the child care teacher reduces your ability to teach right from wrong.

4. Asking teachers to be the "intimidator" is an unfair role for teachers to play and can have long term effects on the children's attitude toward teachers. Likewise, teachers should share behavioral concerns with parents but should be cautious so that children are not receiving consequences at home for a transgression at school.

Better Alternatives:

1. Parents and child care teachers should talk often and share concerns about behavior so similar offenses can be addressed at home and at school in similar ways, if possible.

2. Both teachers and parents need to let children know what the expectations are for any given circumstance. The rules at school are often different from the rules at home.

3. Behavior expectations should be discussed in positive terms rather than negative terms."We walk in our classroom" rather than "No running!"

Parents and teachers need to support each other on issues related to disciple rather that use each other for leverage. Together, parents and child care teachers can work to provide happy, healthy, well-adjusted individuals. When behavior escalates and adults need to intervene, parents and teachers should have a clear understanding of what approach is taken by the other. With modern day co-parenting, child care teachers and parents need to communicate, share concerns, and teach appropriate behavior so that kids can eventually self-monitor their behavior.


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