Recently, my daughter was seriously ill in the hospital with her husband and 3-month-old daughter at home. What could I do? I was ready to help, but didn’t know how. Should I buy diapers for the baby, flowers for my daughter, cook dinners for my son-in-law, something else? I felt so helpless, but after a short conversation on the phone, my daughter told me exactly what she needed: me. I had forgotten the most important thing, which was my connection with her, and her need to feel connected. Now this was something I could do! I could hold my daughter’s hand, I could talk and listen to my son-in-law. And my grand daughter? Well, no one needed to twist my arm to get me to comfort, rock and sing to her.
The connections you make with families and the children in your care are just as critical, and you reinforce those connections everyday that you interact with them! As child care providers we provide responsive care giving simply by talking and listening to children talk about what they did with mom or dad this weekend, engaging parents when they drop off and pick up about what their children have been doing in our program that day.
Though I’d worried about all of the things my daughter might need from me when she was sick, simply hearing her and being with her was the most important thing. It’s the same with parents and the children in our care! Meaningful interactions like sharing a special book with a child, acknowledging when they are upset and giving them a hug have the power to impact their intellectual, emotional and physical development. And when we respect parents’ needs and values and recognize their relationship with their child, it strengthens the relationship they can have with us!