Monday, April 4, 2011

Childcare rules

I discovered an article this morning about new laws to further restrict how children can be disciplined in a childcare centre.

Having worked in a childcare centre for six years before having my own children, and with a further 11 years experience as a mother, I find myself wondering who comes up with these rules.  I understand and agree that staff in childcare should not be allowed to smack children.  I'm not going into my opinion about smacking now.  

When I worked in childcare (yes, it was 11 years ago, so maybe children have miraculously become perfect since then) the only form of discipline available or encouraged was 'time out'.  When a child was behaving in a manner that was innaproppriate (generally where I worked that meant they were likely to be endangering another child or causing massive and continued disruption to an activity the rest of the group where enjoying) they would be either moved to a different place within the group, removed from the group, or briefly put into 'time out' (generally a chair at the back of the group), depending on what was appropriate for the situation.  We did not remove them from the room unless the behaviour had been continuing for a long period of time and upsetting other children, or if the staff member felt they were emotionally unable to handle it and needed a few minutes break from the child.  In that situation the child was sent to one of the other rooms in the childcare centre (briefly) and played there for awhile (many children actually considered this to be a treat, so it was avoided where possible).

I recall some ridiculous laws being passed or discussed when I worked in childcare.  One such law/recommendation was that you should never say 'no' or 'don't' to a child as it is too negative.  Everything had to be rephrased in a positive manner.  At the time I worked in a room with babies aged 6 months - 2 years and often I was alone with 4-5 children.  This was ridiculous in my situation.  We had one child who frequently tried to play with the switches on a power point (yes it had child safe caps on it).  For me to say "uh, uh" or "No ______" would  cause the child to stop long enough for me to walk across the room and pick them up and distract them with a different activity, but if I was forced to rephrase it to a 'positive' statement it would have been beyond the understanding of such a small child and defeated the purpose of causing a distraction and a mental association that this behaviour was not good.

If new laws are passed which ban carers from using time out or separation, which have been the approved methods for years, I am hoping that those who make the laws will personally go to each centre and demonstrate to the staff how to deal with a child who is kicking/punching/pinching/biting without separating them from the other children and how a staff member who is alone with 5-15 children (depending on ages and staff/child ratios) is expected to give the majority of children the care their parents are paying for and expecting them to receive without occassionally removing a child who refuses to co-operate. 

These kids are actually pretty smart and if a child learns there are no consequences they can easily hijack every group activity and ruin them for every other child in the room.  I would not be willing to pay for my child to attend a centre where this could happen.  Whether my child was the innocent victim of another childs 'bad day' or whether they are the perpetrator of the trouble, I would expect the carer to have the authority to do 'something' to encourage more appropriate behaviour.

As to the other issue in the article, about religious activities, I am wondering how this applies to childcare run by a religious organisation.  Is the christian preschool/long day care centre my second son attended still allowed to acknowledge religious festivals?  Every parent attending knows it is run by christians, with a christian perspective.  I find it interesting that the only 'religious' activities mentioned are those commonly associated with Christian celebrations, so would a Jewish or Muslim children's centre be allowed to celebrate their holy festivals, or is it only christian activities that are to be banned?

I wonder what other people think of these suggested laws.  Do you have an opinion on the suggested new laws?  If you think I am wrong or misguided or old-fashioned I would love to hear your perspective also.


Alrischa said...

My kids have a bit of childcare once a fortnight. But they don't dare to mess with Grandma... ;)

kelgell said...

That's ludicrous. Even adults need timeouts at times--though we give them to ourselves because we know we need to calm down and such. And generally, timeouts are for the good of the child and the group. Sometimes I think these people who make these rules think too much and over dramatise things.
I do like nannying because I don't have to deal with those kind of politics. Just in agreeance with the parents.

Interesting point about the religious/cultural festival things.

Tab said...

From what I understand time out/separation is often used inappropriately. So when I say I use timeout some people think I'm a monster, until we actually discuss what we mean by it and it turns out I'm not so mean after all. I can understand them not wanting TO used in an inappropriate way where a child is left alone and constantly excluded, but a blanket rule is pretty harsh. I think wherever possible positive reinforcement should be used, but the NO word is needed at times and its going to be pretty hard without it.

Santhiya said...

Good Post! Very informative, glad that you are going to continue writing things like this!

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