– Stephen R. Covey
A friend of mine recently enrolled her two children in child care for the first time. She’s a very private person, but chose to share with the child care provider that she was going through a divorce. What she didn’t choose to share was that her husband and the children’s father is an abusive man. Does it surprise you that she would withhold this information? I wasn’t surprised. My friend needs to learn to trust her child care provider, and that process takes time.
Building a foundation of trust is critical for all families, and for all child care providers who hope to have a positive relationship with the parents of the children in their care. What can we do to lay the foundation? We need to be patient and consistent, and most of all we need to keep a focus on good communication with families.
First we need to be sure to meet with families in a safe and comfortable environment. Give yourself enough time to exchange ideas and information, and listen with an open mind in all your communications with families. Be sure to clarify expectations and share honestly. If parents ask you a question that you don’t know the answer to, be honest. Let the family know you’ll get back to them with the information, and then do it!
It’s so important to respect the parents’ levels of knowledge, understanding or interest. When we make assumptions about a parent, however innocently, we run the risk of destroying our chances to develop a strong relationship with that parent. For example, don’t always assume a busy parent is a disinterested parent. They could be distracted that day by one of life’s many other challenges… I know some days I am!
Remember that parents are their child’s first teachers, and when they feel that we respect and trust them, they are more likely to respect and trust us.