It’s obviously in your best interest to make sure your kid’s daycare teachers like you. After all, these are the people who take care of your child every day.
But you know this already. So you try your hardest never to be late for pick-up, and you buy the teachers a Christmas gift every year. And every so often, you thank them for everything they do.
We appreciate that. But speaking as an early childhood educator (ECE) who’s been taking care of kids for 20 years, I hate to say it, but despite your best efforts, a lot of you are killing us with your bad behaviour. I think it’s often a case of ignorance as opposed to outright disrespect. So with that mind, I’d like to share with you the eight way you may be pissing off your kid’s daycare teacher.
1. You pick up your kid at 5:58 p.m. and ask multiple important questions that take 15 minutes. Listen, I get it: There’s some important stuff you need to ask me, and you’ve finally got me alone, with no other kids to distract us. It probably seems like an ideal time. But think about how you feel two minutes before the work day is over. Desperate to get out of there, right? I feel the same way. I’m ready to go home and see my own family—I may even have a family member waiting outside for me to drive me home. So instead of peppering me with questions, please use the time to ask me when would be a convenient time for us to chat. Or just try to arrive a bit earlier.
5 daycare problems solved 2. Your kid poops in your presence and you expect the daycare teacher to deal with it. It happens a lot: A parent arrives to pick up their kid, and BAM! They decide to poop in their diaper right then. In case you weren’t sure what the etiquette is in this situation, let me fill you in: It’s your job to change the diaper. Don’t even glance at me—this one’s yours. Feel free to use our change table, and we’ll happily show you where we keep your kid’s supplies, but the actual diaper change is on you. The moment you arrive to pick up your kid at daycare, you become responsible for them, and that includes diaper changes.
3. You don’t take behavioural observations seriously. It’s not easy for us to tell you the hard truths about your child, but we do. We let you know if we think your child is being overly aggressive, or having trouble getting dressed independently, or ready for potty training. But once we tell you, we expect you to work on those issues. If you ignore them, or pretend to take them seriously but don’t follow up, then you’re not helping us, and you’re not helping your kid.
4. You dress your kids in high-end clothes and get upset when they get dirty. I get that you want your kid to look cute, and that those higher-end outfits need to get worn before your kid grows out of them. But at daycare, we play to learn, and learning is messy. I’m focused on keeping your kid safe, happy and engaged—I simply can’t worry about a smear of paint on a size 3T Polo shirt.
5. You don’t talk to the teacher at drop off or pick up. ECEs don’t have time for long conversations when they’re taking care of a group of kids. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t acknowledge us at drop off and pick up. I know you’re busy and multitasking and your mind is probably elsewhere. But please take the two seconds it requires to say hello to your kid’s teachers. Most parents do, but not all of them. Honestly, it’s just good manners.
6. You expect one-on-one care in a large group context. I’ve been asked many times to hand-feed a toddler in my care to ensure she eats enough. I’ve even been asked to make sure a toddler doesn’t ever trip, fall or get hurt in any way (this request is usually made by first-time parents). I understand these requests—I’m a parent, too! I’m not saying they’re outrageous, and I’ll definitely do my best. But the child-to-teacher ratio often simply doesn’t allow for me to make them happen, and I’d appreciate your understanding.
7. You don’t pick your kid up quickly when we call to say they’re sick, and then you challenge our decision to call you in the first place.
We know you need to be working—that’s why your kid is in daycare in the first place! And we hate informing parents that their kid is sick—we’re acutely aware that the call is about as welcome as a note from the dentist saying it’s time for a checkup. But if we do call you, please try to come immediately. Sick kids require one-on-one care that we just can’t provide (see #6, above). And don’t challenge our decision to call. Caregivers are looking out for the best interest of the child. Don’t take the frustration of the situation out on us.
8. You don’t provide supplies after being asked more than once. Whether it’s diapering supplies, winter gloves, sunscreen or extra underwear during potty training, we aren’t asking for those items for the fun of it. We’re trying to make sure your kid is comfy, clean and safe. Please help us do that by providing those items immediately when asked.
The author of this article is a registered early childhood educator in Toronto and requested anonymity.