10 things childcare providers won't tell you

By Mother Nature Network
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You leave your child with them day in and day out, and you trust them completely. But there are some things even your childcare provider won't tell you - about your child, your peers, and maybe even yourself.

The following are 10 things your baby-sitter, nanny, and day-care operator won't tell you. (To protect their anonymity, some of the childcare providers interviewed asked that we identify them only by first name.)

1. The way you treat your childcare provider matters

You might be in a rush to drop off your child at daycare or pick them up on your way home, but that's no reason to not take a moment to be kind to your childcare provider. "The parent should speak to the childcare provider in the way they want their child to act: Courteous, use pleases and thank-you's," said Mathilda Williams, who runs an in-home childcare facility in New Jersey. "Yes, the childcare provider works for you, but that doesn't mean they can be treated without respect. If the child sees his mom or dad speaking to the provider without respect, this is what he will learn."

2. Timing is important

Being on time to pick up your child matters not only to your daycare provider, but also to your children. "The child may think that he doesn't matter, because his mom or dad makes no effort to pick him up on time," says Williams. "Children learn very soon that their friends are picked up early or on time, and they are only picked up after everyone else has gone home already. They will resent that. "

3. Nannies are not maids

Lisa, a nanny in Greenville, S.C., said she was fired when she refused do housework. "Because I didn't feel like cleaning the bathroom, they decided to put [the child] in daycare," she said. Nonetheless, families can confuse the role of a nanny. For her part, Tina Carey, a full-time nanny in the Boston area, once quit a job because she didn't want to polish the family's silver. "I said, 'No, ma'am. If you're looking for a housekeeper, that's not me.'"

"Nannies don't mind cleaning up the house," said Candi Wingate, president of Nannies4Hire, "But it's discouraging when another mess is waiting for them when they report to work the next morning. It is reasonable to expect a nanny to clean up after the children, but it is not customary to expect nannies to be responsible for all housecleaning tasks."

4. They see other nannies yelling at - or ignoring - other children

For every childcare provider who engages her charges at the park, there are countless others chatting on their cell phones or talking with friends. Carey said she once witnessed a little boy nearly get hit by a car while his nanny napped on a blanket at the park. "There used to be a caregiver I would see at the school ... who would constantly scream at and berate the child she looked after," said a nanny named Jennifer. "I wondered how the child's parents could have hired a woman like that."

5. A little thanks goes a long way

Don't skimp on the person who ties your children's shoelaces, fixes them a snack, and wipes their tears. "I spend five to seven days a week helping her raise her kids and for Christmas, I got a re-gifted mud mask," said Lisa. "I totally cried," she said. "I didn't even write a thank-you note."

Speaking of thank-you notes, you might want to send one from time to time. "When the nanny goes above and beyond, a thank-you note or little perk is a nice touch," said Wingate. "Nannies, like everyone else, need to feel that their good work does not go unnoticed."

6. You need to discipline your children

"Some parents don't believe in discipline," said Carey. But giving in to temper tantrums essentially tells kids that yelling and screaming will get them what they want. "Kids are smart," Carey said.

Of course, your kids might be better behaved when you're not around. "Why does your kid listen to me and not to you? Because I set firm rules and stick by them," said certified preschool teacher Dionne Obeso. "You're a softie, and your kids know it."

7. Your child might be a bully

"If your children are getting into fights regularly, they are probably starting them," said Obeso. If you see bites or bruises on your child, ask your childcare provider who is actually hitting whom. They might be afraid to tell you on their own.

8. Your kids need more attention … from you

Lisa works for a family where both parents travel often. "The kids do miss them," she said. But parents also need to be present when they are home. The 10-year-old boy she babysits was trying to read his father a story he wrote recently. "The dad had his face in his Blackberry and was like, 'Uh huh, uh huh.'" Lisa said the boy acts out when he's missing his parents. "He wakes up every night, at least twice in the night and asks for his mom. He starts to cry," she said.

9. Your kid has a developmental problem

No parent wants to hear that something is wrong with her kid, but caring for Little Johnny for 10 hours a day makes a babysitter pretty observant. "Being a parent myself, it's a sensitive subject," said Carey. "You want the best for your child, but you don't want to hear that."

10. You get what you pay for, and what you seek

Childcare providers might not be willing to market themselves based on price alone, but "you most certainly get what you pay for in terms of childcare," says Melody Rubie, owner and president of Smart Start Sitters and Nannies in New York City. "I recommend parents cut back on less crucial items, such as pricey enhancement classes, rather than paying less for a less qualified caregiver who could significantly impact your child's budding self-esteem and restrict their experiential learning for many hours each week."

If you're expecting someone who will teach your young child, make sure they're qualified, or that they're actually going to provide the services you assume they are going to provide. Children's book author Jennifer Lynn Pereyra found that out when she put her oldest daughter into childcare. "We were expecting that when she was three that they would start to teach her letters and numbers. Well, we came to find out that this particular center believed strictly in learning through play and not doing any type of structured learning."

With her second daughter, Pereyra observed two things about the center they had chosen: The employees had all been there more than 10 years, which showed her they were happy in their jobs. "I chalk this up to solid management practices," she said. "I firmly believe that good management equals happy, tenured teachers, and happy teachers produce happy children."

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