For parents, teachers, and childcare providers alike, we always have to be careful with how we discipline children. There are so many variables to consider, and while it’s true that parenting is different than teaching, and teaching is different than running a daycare, there are still some truths about disciplining children that are pretty much universal. In fact, there are three that stick out to me right off the bat that are total discipline no-no’s when caring for children.
If we are honest, most of us have used this tactic before. Whether it was years ago when we were babysitting for our neighbors, more recently in our childcare business, or even with our own children, we’ve pretty much all done it. Most of us also know that our kids are smarter than that.
Our kids catch on pretty quickly when we don’t follow through with our promises and threats. And with that in mind, when they start to see that we are full of it, they will not only stop listening to our commands, but they will also not see us as trustworthy.
Children need to feel that they can trust us. It’s up to us to show them that they can by avoiding fake threats.
It’s true that sometimes it’s impossible to get a child’s attention without raising our voices. That happens sometimes. But- and this is a big but- there’s a difference between raising our voices and screaming at a child.
To raise our voice to get a child’s attention may be necessary at times. They may have been hitting you (such a lovely phase…), about to run out in front of a car, or ignoring you when you were only three feet away. Sometimes raising our voice makes sense.
But what doesn’t make sense? Yelling or screaming at a child hysterically until you are blue in the face. Not only does it not work, and not only do you take a chance on losing the child’s respect, but the yelling might cut them much deeper than you know.
You never know what a child goes home to when they leave your care. School/daycare/etc. may be the only place they feel safe. So make sure that when a child is in your care they don’t feel needlessly criticized and yelled at.
I feel like this one is a no-brainer, but since it is so important I’ll say it anyway. If you are a childcare provider, you should never spank the kids! It’s one thing if you spank your own kids. It’s another thing entirely to spank someone else’s kid. Not only is it disrespectful to the parents who haven’t given you permission for that, but it also opens the door to lawsuits out the wazoo!
Unless the parents specifically asks you to spank a child (even then, be VERY careful, have them put it in writing, and have it notarized) don’t lay a hand on the child. In fact, even if a parent asks you to spank their kid, it’s probably better to refuse. That is a huge can of worms that no one really needs to open.
No matter how bad a child is being, no matter how bad he/she might “need” a spanking, just don’t do it. There are other ways to discipline that won’t lead to you getting fired or sued.
I can’t speak for every single childcare provider out there. Maybe you are a caregiver for your 5 nieces and nephews and you’ve been instructed to spank and yell. That doesn’t seem like a likely scenario, but if that’s the case and it works for your situation, then this post isn’t aimed towards you. But I do caution you to be careful no matter how much “permission” you’ve been given.
And for the other 99% of caregivers out there, just avoid these tactics entirely. There are all sorts of punishments, disciplines, etc. that don’t require you to lie to the kids, yell at them, or lay a hand on them. Be wise and just don’t go there.