Even Daycare Teachers Have Bad Days, So Expect Them To Snap At Your Kids
There were a lot of things that bothered me about working in childcare that led me to eventually swear that I would never step foot in a preschool classroom again, but I was reminded of one of the biggest ones last night as I plumbed the depths of the internet: the expectation that a day care or child care worker will be an endlessly patient Mary Poppins no matter what your kid is up to. Take for instance, this complaint, on Reddit:
So I dropped my kid (17 months) off at daycare today and was outside the room looking over their notice board when I heard the main daycare working ask her to stop throwing pieces of a puzzle that it wasn’t acceptable (fair enough). But then I heard her snap (loudly) “stop doing that now!!!”. I’ve never had an issue with them before. I’m thinking of pulling her aside at drop off tomorrow to discuss it.
Has anyone dealt with a similar issue before – how did you handle it?
Ugh. Listen. I get that you’re paying butt loads to keep your kid in daycare. I get that you expect a certain level of care for your money. That’s fair enough, and since I didn’t work with kids quite this young, I can’t weigh in on how I would have handled a situation like this one. I can’t imagine snapping at a child that young but that’s because redirection is so much more effective at that age. But I’ll admit, I had moments of impatience with some of my, er, more high-spirited kids.
Your daycare teacher will not treat your child the way you treat your child. For one thing, the ratio, as I recall, in my state for twos and threes is about six to one. Do you have two-year-old sextuplets? No? Then you don’t know how you would handle six simultaneous tantrums. Add in the fact that these aren’t even your kids and you’re getting about six bucks an hour after taxes? As someone that works with kids, it’s their job to take this all in stride, and usually that’s not a problem. But other times? Well, we all have bad days, okay?
Also, this is a hard truth but you might have the challenging kid. You might have the one kid that throws puzzle pieces at some other kid’s face four times a day, every day. Your kids’ teacher might have to deal with the equally pissed parent who is annoyed that their child has a puzzle piece shaped bruise on their head at the end of every day.
I lost my temper one really significant time when I worked in child care. I was recovering from about my fourth bout of strep throat, and one of my previously potty trained kids had a massive blow-out. As I was changing her, one of the other five kids I was supposed to be watching snuck out of the bathroom and crawled up on a table, preparing to launch herself into the play kitchen. The one with all of the corners. Terrified that she might hurt herself, I three-named her. You know what I’m saying; first, middle, and last name, all stern-like. Probably louder than I should have. Honestly, it was instinctual; it is exactly what I would have done if it were my own kid at that age if I thought she was getting ready to tear her face open on a fake refrigerator.
And oh, yeah, her mom was there. Just out of the line of sight near the cubbies. And yes, she told on me, and yes, I got in a lot of trouble.
Nothing else mattered. Not the time I had put into getting that kid to not be terrified of the toilet flushing, not the days I had rubbed her kid’s back when the little tyke was barfing her guts up and her mom wouldn’t answer her work, cell, or home phone, not even the special “feelings” cards I stayed up until midnight making to get her previously non-verbal kid to communicate.
Did I fuck up? Yeah, I don’t mind admitting that. Our center promised a no-yelling, positive reinforcement environment. I didn’t deliver on that promise that day. Did the teacher in the above scenario fuck up? I don’t know her life but yeah, she probably did too. I can’t imagine a center that endorses snapping at kids.
If you have a problem, say so. It’s your kid, after all. I wish that mother had spoken to me instead of going straight to the director, but she was well within her rights to do that. You should never ignore something that gives you a bad feeling when it comes to your kids. But for the love of all things sweet and holy, get a little perspective.
It’s not hard to find child care workers being yelly or shouty or snappy. Hang out around your kid’s classroom incognito and you’ll probably see it firsthand. But I could hang out at your house and see you being yelly, shouty, and snappy too. That’s because you aren’t a superhuman perfect caretaker at home, so it stands to reason that your kid’s teacher won’t be one at school. Most of these workers love the kids they care for, and yes, shock of all shocks, have a crappy day from time to time.