What are harsh realities daycare and preschool providers tend to not tell parents?
My wife and I opened a Drop-In Day care in 2012 and ran it for three years. The real dirty secrets are what YOU do that we know. We know how you treat your kid(s). We know what you say and how you act when you say it. We know this because we see them imitate you with other kids. When a toddler puts his hands on his hips, wags a finger in another kid's face and says "you better straighten up or I'm'onna slap the shit outta you..." Well, we have a pretty good feeling she didn't learn that from My Little Pony. Another harsh reality is that we can see how you create the exact behavior you don't want: mom comes to pick up, "come on Junior, time to go." Then she starts chatting up the staff. A few minutes later "Junior! Let's go! Ugh! He never listens!" And continues chatting. A few minutes later "Junior.... Time to go." Junior (wisely) ignores mom, since mom has trained him to do that. It's happening right in front of our face right now, mom!For bonus points, mom gets frustrated and goes over to Junior to pick him up and carry him out. Junior runs! What a fun game! Catch me mommy! Haha! (For future reference: No. Stop. Junior come here. No? 'Ok, I'm leaving. Have fun.' Don't stop. Don't turn around. Don't wait. As soon as Junior believes that you really will leave, he will come sprinting. Now do it consistently, so Junior knows you always mean it).Man, other favorite is the "I'm going to count to one... You better do what I say Johnny....Two... Johnny...come on...Two and a half... Two and three quarters... Two and seven eighths... Johnny don't make me get to three! Two and fifteen sixteenths..." I learned this very important lesson via dog training twenty years ago: if you tell a dog to sit sit sit three times before you make him do it, you teach him that he is supposed to sit when you say it three times. Say it once, then physically demonstrate what you want. For a toddler, that means taking his hand or picking him up or redirecting him after you say it once. Also kids just don't like free play as much as you think. They can do a little, but their little brains can only invent so much fun at once. Then they can't think of anything else to do, they get bored and frustrated. Then you've got trouble. If you move onto the next activity before the current activity stops being fun (15-30 minutes) you have a much, much, much easier time than if you let them "play" until they are unhappy, then try to move them to something new (while they are upset). It sounds harder, but you are lying to yourself. It it not harder than dealing with a tantrum-throwing toddler. It's easy - little Susie is having a great time playing with dolls. "In five minutes, it will be snack time, Susie!" Give them a two minute and one minute reminder and then be really excited that Snack Time has FINALLY ARRIVED! Oh Yeah! Woot Woot! Sna-ack Time!!Ooh I'm on a roll! Another harsh reality: rules don't do a DAY-AMN thing, until they have been tested and enforced. "New rule everybody! No running!" That rule won't actually be in effect until somebody tries running (AND THEY WILL). And gets in trouble for it. "Cause who knows, probably they don't mean it, really." If you make a rule you must defend it in order for it to be a rule. Don't make a rule you can't (or won't) enforce 75 times a day (but seriously, 2 or 3 will do it).The last harsh reality: we can get kids to listen the first time. No really. It would downright make you feel unfit to be a parent. Why? two reasons:As a matter of survival, we can't tolerate any haggling. This will be established within five minutes as your Precious Gift from Heaven want to show right away that she does what she wants, when she wants. We have peer pressure on our side. "Get in a line! Who wants to be the line leader? Everybody?!? Oh my!" To be fair, we struggled with our own kids way more than anyone else's. Those little double agents know your buttons and they know them well. I swear there's extensive toddler double agent recruiting, assessment, and training centers throughout the world. Plan ahead for them to test you, recognize it as a clarification process (not as disrespect towards you) and move on to the laughing and the singing. Oh and we were never happier in our lives than when we closed our daycare and said goodbye to the last whiney, ungrateful, disrespectful parents who had somehow discerned they should just scream at us whenever they didn't understand something. Or walk out without paying. You, know because we were obviously beneath them, being babysitters and all, (never-mind our college degrees from internationally renowned institutions, or our multiple, previous global businesses, or our personal investment of $200,000 to do something good for them and their children). We had no idea people still got treated this way in America. Especially the people assuming health, safety, and wellbeing of Their Little Everything. We had days that filled us with joy to tears, but mostly we experienced that child care providers are treated like the most worthless people in our society. This is just not right. It's a hard eff'ing job. A room full of toddlers can be like doing calculus in your head in a room full of snapping alligators. Be kind.