Discipline At Day Care
When you first though of starting your own day care, the images of being with children, loving them, and having fun with them is one of the big attractions to making that kind of day care become a reality. But it doesnt take long to realize that in any social setting and especially one where children are involved, there must be a system of discipline.
The tricky part of putting into place and then enforcing discipline in a day care setting is that you are put on the spot when you must discipline a child or several children. After all, these are the children in your care and they are your customers as well. Moreover, you must find ways to discipline a child then return him or her to the society of children without harm to their social standing and without damaging the relationship with the day care worker or the day care itself. If you do not find that balance, every time there is an incident that calls for discipline, it could be a situation that could cause you to lose a child as part of your community. .
However, everybody, even children know that children need discipline. Children come to expect it of the adults who are in charge and they expect that discipline to be administered fairly but without fail each time. A child or a group of children have a much worse experience in a setting where there are no rules or where there are rules but they re either not enforced or they are enforced inconsistently.
The most important thing to a young person is consistency. So the way to introduce the concept of discipline to a group of kids in your day care is to take a moment to go through the rules with them and explain to them that these rules are not to be broken and there will be zero tolerance if they are broken. This is actually comforting to children because they feel there are boundaries and that they should be respected. And when children know the boundaries are there and will work every time without fail, they feel safe in your day care.
Much of the success of the disciplinary system of the day care will depend on how the rules are written. They should be absolutely clear and with as little interpretation called for as possible. But they should also put a great deal of trust in the authority of the day care worker who either witnessed the infraction or was in charge of the group at the time. In that way, as long as the day care workers show no favoritism so the children to not feel the rules are being selectively enforced, they will accept the rulings of the day care workers as acceptable and fair.
No disciplinary system is of any value without punishment. This again is a tricky area for a day care because you walk a line between what you are allowed to use as punishment while trying to maintain and preserve your relationship with the child and with the parents. Physical punishment is almost universally out of the question. In most cases, loss of a privilege or a time out is a workable punishment that is sufficiently unpleasant to discourage the unacceptable behavior but not so harsh as to ruin a child’s day or cause a big disruptions with the parents.
However, it is important that on a family by family basis, you review with the parents both the rules of the day care and the disciplinary policy and secure a sign off from the parents that the rules are understood and that there will be no complaint if it is their child that is subjected to discipline. Most parents want to see their child treated like everybody else and under a system of laws that the child must learn to live with. But you will in the course of any day care year face a parent who was outraged that their child was disciplined. So having this conversation early and taking any questions can cut down on how often that happens.
Put some thought into the discipline policy at your day care. But be encouraged that if you create a strong and fair discipline policy, you wont have to use it very often and it will lead to a happier and more peaceful day care for everyone.