Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Lose the Phone, Parents!

I was outside thinking, watching the children play, and contemplating how much time they spend with me and how little they spend with their parents. I take great joy in their presence and learning, and find it difficult when their parents don't. 

Let me preface this post by saying that due to the nature of my childcare/school and my own personality and beliefs, the parents of my students almost universally have an intense interest in everything regarding their children. Rarely do I see the behaviors I am going to discuss. 

However, since they are so rare, it is glaring when they happen. 

[Stepping up onto my soap box.]

No one is more important to a child than their parents. They spend the majority of their waking hours during the week with me. They get up, run through the morning routine, possibly play a little, and are brought here to school. The anticipation and joy at the end of the day, upon seeing their parent, is breathtaking in its complexity and happiness. Upon hearing her parent's voice, an infant will eagerly search for the face, the touch, the scent of the one she loves. 

When that parent, that god-like figure of their child, walks through the door, talking on their phone, not looking at their child, snapping orders, "Come ON we have to GO!" stuffing an infant into their seat without a cuddle, let alone a smile, steering their child through the door, acknowledging the teacher with an absent wave and, "Thanks! See you tomorrow!" I watch the joy and anticipation slowly fade from their being, the stress begin. 

It makes me very VERY sad. 

Because I know. I know that the precedent is set for the evening. The parent is rushed and frustrated. Not even realizing it, they may be subconsciously blaming the child for having to leave work and deal with things on the run. Subconsciously they may be taking out that frustration upon their child and labeling it something else, possibly that their child is "being bad," when it is the PARENT who needs to have an attitude adjustment. 

In response to the neglect, the feelings of abandonment and loneliness, the child will act on their feelings or purposefully try to get the attention they crave. Most likely this will end in some form of escalation of the frustration on both sides and lead to a very unpleasant situation. 

The next morning, like clockwork, I hear, "She just WOULDN'T mind last night." 

The number one advice I can give parents is to be PRESENT. 
Especially during transitions. 
Especially after separations. 

Let your child know that you missed them, 
that you are SO glad to see them, 
that you love them more than your life. 
Be patient. 
Be kind.


They are little for such a short period. They will be off with their friends soon enough and you will have all the time in the world for your work and hobbies and cleaning. While you are doing all those things, while your children are off on their own, you do NOT want to say, "I wish I would have ditched the phone. How often did they question my love for them? How often did I make them feel less than what they were to me? How often did I make them feel a lower priority in my life than so many inconsequential things? Did I truly act like they were an inconvenience?"

When you pick up from childcare, or grandma's, etc., get down on their level, greet your child with a smile bigger than you feel you can possibly smile, a hug so tight they complain, and an avid interest in their work and their world. 

Whose death would shatter your world instantly? Not that person on your conference call. It's the small person in front of you. Live like it.
Tags: childcare, daycare, preschool, pre-k, prek, parenting, transitions, pick-up, drop-off, infant, toddler, child, kid

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