From bumps and bruises to feedback on your child, manage tricky childcare issues calmly and productively
Childcare is one of the most challenging issues parents face. Not just how to afford it (although that’s definitely a biggie) but also what set up is best for your family.
So, when you’ve made your decision and are in a routine, how do you cope when a difficulty comes up? Something that suddenly makes you question your arrangement.
Don’t panic. There are ways to address the trickiest of issues, so you can move forward.
Your nanny’s not following your guidelines
Perhaps she’s giving your toddler chocolate when you’d rather she didn’t. Or maybe she shouts when that’s not your style.
‘Communication is vital, so be frank and direct – your carer may not realise there’s an issue,’ says Harriet Dean from childcare agency Tinies.
Hiring someone new? Discuss your rules at interview stage and include them in her job description. ‘Remember a childminder will often have her own guidelines and, although she should be open to your ideas, it’s better to find someone on the same page as you from the outset,’ says Harriet.
Your child has an injury
If your toddler has come home from nursery with a bump or bruise, stay calm.
Registered care such as a nursery or childminder is required by Ofsted to record details of any accident
‘Registered care such as a nursery or childminder is required by Ofsted to record details of any accident,’ explains Harriet. ‘You should also be asked to countersign the accident report form when you collect your child at the end of the day.’
If nobody’s mentioned anything, don’t be afraid to ask – keep reminding yourself that you have a right to know. ‘Find out whether the injury was treated and if steps are being taken so it doesn’t happen again,’ says Harriet. ‘Reiterate that you always want to be told about any incidents, however minor.’
If something’s happened at home with your nanny, it’s your responsibility to make the environment safe – think locks, door guards and stair gates. Check her paediatric first aid certificate is up to date, too.
Your carer just leaves your kids to it
Whether a friend from the park has mentioned your nanny being on her phone, or you’ve seen the computer is used a lot while you’re at work, the key is perspective and solutions.
‘Children don’t need adult attention all the time, but if you’re worried your nanny isn’t interacting enough, suggest games, activities and outings to see if things improve,’ says Harriet.
Ask other parents or nursery staff if they’ve noticed anything amiss, or come home early a few times to see for yourself.
‘If you’re still worried, arrange a meeting when you can go over your ground rules about television, personal calls or whatever the issue may be,’ says Harriet. And try to remain polite and calm – it’ll keep things more productive.
You want nursery feedback
If you’d like to know more about how your baby’s getting on, make time for a chat.
‘In baby and toddler nurseries, daily diaries that chart sleeps, meals, nappy changes and so on are usually the norm,’ says Harriet. ‘Nothing makes up for a conversation though, so try to leave enough time for a handover at either end of the day by arriving five or 10 minutes early.’
Schedule in a weekly meeting with your nanny so she can feed back, but remember this needs to be within her contracted hours, not her free time.
There’s an issue with your child
Your carer generally wouldn’t raise an issue lightly, so if she’s mentioned a difficulty with your child’s behaviour, listen to her.
‘Have a chat away from your child then agree on a plan of action where you both work together,’ says Harriet. ‘Consistent boundaries and praising positive behaviour while ignoring minor bad behaviour is usually a good way to start.’
Arrange follow-ups and seek an outside opinion from your GP if the problem persists.