Problems with your child’s crèche
Research into the effects of childcare on children indicates that good quality childcare does not do any damage to young children provided they have a secure relationship with one or both of their parents. This good relationship will go some way to protecting them if they are in poor quality childcare, but nevertheless poor quality childcare can be emotionally and indeed physically damaging for young children. If a child is experiencing any difficulties in his relationship with his parents, poor quality childcare can be even more damaging to the child.
For this reason, parents need to be extra vigilant when looking for a childcare placement for their young child, and even though there may be pressure on places parents should be careful not to let this pressure blind them to poor childcare set-ups or feel they have to ‘put up’ with situations that are substandard.
Assuming that you have found a good crèche and for some reason you are becoming concerned about practices there, you might find the following points useful to review.
You will hopefully have checked if the crèche your child is attending is registered with the local health services — if you have not done this it is important for you to do it now — you can simply ask the owner if it is registered or check it out with your local health centre.
It’s best to have the kind of relationship you want with the crèche from the early days — start as you mean to go on.
If there are any practices you are unsure about, ask immediately about them rather than leaving it and then finding it difficult to ask later.
It is important, particularly with younger children, that clear records be kept of their day — most crèches have a system of record keeping so they can keep parents informed of what their little ones had to eat, what kind of form they were in, nap times, incidents which occurred during the day, etc. If your crèche does not keep such records ask for them to be kept for your child. As children get older the crèche may not continue to keep records. If you feel the feedback is inadequate, ask about it and arrange a system to suit both you and the crèche.
Respect is very important in your relationship with your child’s crèche — you need to respect all the staff working in the crèche. Remember you are not the only parents and there may be times when they are too busy to talk to you. You also need to feel respected by the crèche — if you suggest some new ideas or practices for your child, and assuming these are reasonable, it is important that you feel listened to.
A clear system of accountability needs to be in place so you know whom to approach with your concerns. That person needs to be accessible and aware of what’s happening day to day in the crèche.
If a crèche is using a strategy that you are unsure about, for example, to manage behavioural problems, etc, ask others or seek out information on this strategy so that when you discuss it with the crèche you will have some information to base your discussion on. Remember any form of physical punishment should have no place in a well-run crèche.
Be honest and open — if you are at the stage of visiting unannounced at odd hours in an effort to try to catch them out, you might need to reconsider the crèche or your relationship with them.
If you do have to change your childcare situation, do it as soon as possible. Don’t let a bad situation continue. If you have discussed your concerns with the crèche and things have not improved and you are still worried about your child in this situation, take him out of it — remember it is your child who comes first, not your work schedule, etc. Sometimes we get so caught up in our efforts to juggle everything we can forget the most important thing, which is your child’s wellbeing. Leaving children in a situation that is substandard is not an option and despite the hassle and upset of moving, if this is what is required you should do it sooner rather than later.
It is important that from day one you understand that you are your child’s advocate — you are the one that knows him best and understands his needs. If you see a situation that is not good for your child, it is up to you to change it. This can be difficult but children need their parents to be the ones who will put their needs first and ensure they are being cared for properly. Be strong and be your child’s voice.
For more information visit www.RollerCoaster.ie, Ireland’s no 1 website for pregnancy and parenting.