Giving My Child The Skills To Grow

5 Things to Check When Assessing Daycare Discipline Policies

by Albert Davidson

Children are not born with social skills; these are developed over time, usually by observation and deduction from the child's environment. As a result, you can expect that your pre-schooler will make quite a few mistakes before they learn what's acceptable and what isn't.

Consistency is the biggest tool at parents' disposal when instilling good behaviour, which means that you must take care to ensure lessons learnt at home are reinforced when the child is in daycare and vice versa.

Assessing your would-be care option should include follow-up on their discipline policies to ensure they fit your child's and family's dynamic. Every daycare facility – even informal ones – will have some guidelines they follow when disciplining children under their care. Ideally, every facility should have a written discipline policy guideline –in their website, parents' handbook, contract form or other specific written material. Take time to read through all portions and follow with evaluation of all the features. Ask questions where the poilcy isn't clear enough.

1. Consequences and expectations

Prevention should be the focus of a good care facility. How do they handle a cranky or disruptive charge? What do they do to prevent escalation? Anything expected of the parent should be clearly stated in writing, as well as the consequences for bad behaviour. Most important, find out what behaviour can lead to dismissal from the centre. Delve into action taken with specific misdemeanours like biting, hitting, throwing tantrums etc.

2. Punishment

Licensed daycares will not use physical or mental punishment against your child, even if you do this at home. It helps to know how punishment is doled out, e.g. for timeouts, where do they go and for how long? How are they reintroduced into the group setting?

3. Redirection

The younger the child, the less effective pain-inflicting punishment will be. Instead, you want caregivers who focus on redirection – taking a child from unacceptable/harmful behaviour by capturing their interest with a safer activity. For instance, if a child is struggling with some activity, finding another age-appropriate activity can be enough to avert crisis. Ensure the care centre is well-informed about your child's abilities and likes from where they can base redirection efforts.

For redirection to succeed, the caregiver should be able to assess the child's abilities: some children can handle being given materials and deciding what they want for themselves, while others need these choices to be made for them.

4. Developmental considerations

Day programs should include age-appropriate activities, as frustration is often at the root of disruptive behaviour. In addition, there should be a balance between active and quiet time to allow children to rest and unwind.

5. Communication policies

Finally, extreme or repeated misbehaviour will usually earn your child expulsion from a facility, whether for a day or permanently. You should find out at what point a parent is called to step in once the child becomes uncontrollable. In addition, caregivers should provide detailed accounts of daily/weekly misbehaviour and action taken against them.