Just went to check on my blog and saw that people who searched on “scary day care” had found my website. Not the greatest news I’ve had. If they want to find me, they should be searching on “awesome day care” or “super fun happy day care.” But it got me wondering, what else would you find if you search on that phrase?
Well, you would find lots of great stuff about how horrible we are, that we’re evil, we’re destroying people’s children, etc. etc. Scientific studies that show the negative effects on kids in day care. Horror stories of things that could happen — to anyone, anywhere, because life is life and there really are no guarantees — but all leading to the conclusion that DAY CARE IS EVIL.
To which I say, in the words of my dear old dad, horse puckey.
The kids in my care are learning to share, be kind to each other, care about each other, and help each other out. Yeah, they fight and get cranky sometimes, but that’s life. My biggest priorities are teaching respect and empathy, and I daresay the kids in my program are better off for what they learn from me (even if that’s not how to write their name before they get to preschool).
So what is the correlation between these studies and, um, reality? If I had the time I’d go through them all to find out who exactly is defining “bad behavior” and “negative effects.” I’m guessing that some (but not all) of the reporting is done by parents. And sometimes, occasionally, every once in a while, you may have noticed, kids behave much worse for their parents than they do for their care providers.
Would you like to know why?
First of all, transitions. My twins, who are the epitome of delightful beings, become insane screaming demons the moment their mother tries to get them in the car. She knows it’s just in the moment of heading home, and we want to chat and the girls want to get outta here, and she’s OK with it.
Second, a lot of parents carry some guilt over putting their kids in day care (I know I did). In a perfect world, we’d all be able to spend more time with our children and families. It’s a fine balance between appreciating your child care, and feeling like it’s not where your kids should be because they should be with you. Then you naturally blame their bad behaviors on said child care and blame yourself for leaving them there.
Don’t feel guilty, parents, and don’t blame anybody. Kids need socialization and they need to learn from somebody else, and that’s all OK. And they would be cranky no matter who they were with during the day.
For instance, the mom of the screamin-demon twins knows that her daughters love me and I love them, and she’s not threatened by it. This is the ideal situation in child care. You WANT your child to love their provider. Don’t fall into the trap of feeling like “you love her more than you love me.” I’m not mom and never will be. No child will ever love me more than they love their own mother. No one will ever replace Mom. Am I making myself clear? So stop worrying!!
Third, by the end of a long day when we get home from work and day care, we’re all exhausted. Parents want to cook dinner, children want love from their parents, everyone has low blood sugar because they haven’t had dinner, but they can’t get to it because children are acting crazy and parents are trying to figure out why….do you get it?
So in those hours when a parent just wants to relax after a hard day, their child who has been missing them is all over them. And maybe the parent really missed their child too, and it sucks to come home to this because you’re spent, and you wanted to have happy time, but instead you have this squalling puddle of a child to deal with. What happened to that sweet baby who cuddled and cooed? It’s not exactly the quality time we were promised in the commercials.
And my final observation is, our children save their worst for us. I often say this to the parents I work with, especially when I’ve just reported on their child’s lovely behavior all day and they are slightly stunned because they know what’s about to happen when they get said child home for the evening.
Would you like to know why?
Parents are safety. Parents are home. And parents will love you unconditionally no matter what you do. So when you’re at mom and dad’s house, even as an adult — admit it — you act like a jerk sometimes. If your child is tantruming just let it go. Walk away, and when they’re done, give them a hug.
I tell people all the time I’m honored if a child loses it in my presence. That means they’re comfortable enough with me to let me see their true, ugly self. Not that I want them doing it all day, but still. It’s a sign of trust, and I need that to work with these little beings.
So my conclusion, after no research and just a whole lot of personal opinion, is as follows: if your children are acting crazy and you’re reporting it for some study on the negative effects of child care, please consider that your kids might be acting crazy because occasionally, kids act crazy. Not because they just spent the day with another person.
Now. Where are the research dollars lining up for me? I’m ready to start some serious de-bunking.