DEAR ABBY: As a child-care provider for many years, I would like to offer some advice to "Child-Care Pro in New Jersey," who is stumped about what to do when Mom (or Dad) comes to pick up the children and they start acting up.
Sometimes children are confused about how to act when their parent arrives. The day-care provider can help by beginning to discuss ahead of time what will be said the minute Mom or Dad arrives. "Let's tell Mom about that neat picture you made today," or, "Tell Mom how you used good words to tell Jeff how you felt instead of hitting him."
When Mom walks in the door, be ready with positive things to say. She is probably mentally and physically tired at that point and needs all the help she can get to make it a good transition.
I agree with you, Abby, the child-care provider should step in if the children begin acting up -- and the children should be warned that you'll use discipline if you need to. If the moment Mom walks in, the adults begin talking among themselves, that's the time kids act up. Mom should be told you'll call her later with any news. This is a kid's time to talk to Mom. -- LOVES KIDS IN OREGON
DEAR LOVES KIDS: Those are good suggestions, and thank you for them. Now let's hear it from some other child-care professionals:
DEAR ABBY: Having worked in child care more than 20 years, the best advice I can offer is this: When the misbehaving starts, ask the parent, "Would you like to handle this or do you want me to?" That way, you acknowledge the misbehavior and the fact that it must be dealt with, without undermining the parent.
Waiting until the next day to discipline the child would serve no useful purpose. -- ANOTHER PRO IN HENDERSON, TENN.
DEAR A.P.: I agree.
DEAR ABBY: It is not unusual for children to act up when the parents arrive. Here's how I handle it:
I talk to the children about their behavior before their parents get here. I have them ready to go so there's no chance for them to misbehave. And I offer them a reward -- like a healthy snack -- to take with them if they get ready to go without a fuss. -- BEEN THERE IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR BEEN THERE: Way to go! I see nothing wrong with providing an incentive for good behavior.