Parenting advice from the experts

As an owner, director and lead teacher of a child care center several years ago, I can truly relate to the following advice that anonymous professionals shared with Many times I would not say what I was thinking so as not to offend a parent but now looking back, I did them an injustice for sure. Many would ask for advice about their child; and when asked I would offer some suggestions but here are a few that often are not shared with parents:

From a Child Care Director: 1. This director calls it Rule-Bending Acrobatics. You (the parent) have 66 reasons why your kid shouldn’t have to eat what everyone else does, nap when everyone else does, and should be allowed to wear her princess costume every day. But it’s really not good for her to feel like she’s special in the group. Everyone has to follow the rules. Also, I ain’t Grandma. Pick your child up on time. I love her, but I’m overworked and underpaid, and I want to get home too. And at pickup, get off the cell phone, make eye contact, and say hello nicely. It’s a long day for a little kid, and he misses you. Give him all your attention. Say, “Hi, I’m glad to see you. I’ve missed you today. How are you? What have you been doing?” You’ll be rewarded with a kid who’s less clingy and whiny all evening. On a personal note from me: I saw this all too often. An eager, happy face is waiting for mom or dad, and all they may get is “go get your coat, let’s go, I’m in a hurry”. Use your manners; take the time to greet your child as you would anyone else:)

From a Doctor/Pediatrician: What is the most annoying things parents do?

Overreact to the little ills of childhood. American kids are the healthiest humans who have ever lived. But their parents often fear they’re one sniffle away from certain doom. So, please, have confidence that you can handle most of the little throat itches, earaches, goopy eyes, and low fevers your child has. They don’t need me; they just need a little chicken soup and love. As for medicine: As much as you want a prescription to fix everything, your kid probably doesn’t need antibiotics. For example, 80 percent of ear infections go away without them. Doctors are nice, and sometimes we write prescriptions because we want to feel like we’re doing something to help, even though you’ll be fine without it. Also, there’s a syndrome called “Sick enough to see the doctor, but well enough for baseball.” The kid absolutely must see me on Sunday, but just not until after his game. If your child is well enough for school or practice, he’s really not sick enough to see me. On the other hand, if your kid is sick enough to see me, he’s probably sick enough to have an adult stay home with him. I can’t magically make him well enough to get back to school or daycare.

From a Preschool Teacher: If a parent doesn’t follow my directions, I’ll assume her child won’t either. I give parents specific instructions – fill out these forms by this date, e-mail instead of calling, don’t put candy in your kid’s lunch. When you don’t follow rules, how can you expect your child too. Also, the six most lethal words to a teacher at the end of class: “Hi! Do you have a minute?” Please make an appointment. Likewise, don’t pretend you’re in my classroom to volunteer and then try to use that time to chat about your child’s progress. I would be happy to schedule a time when we can talk one on one:) Personal note: I won’t take up any of your time unless I feel it’s truly necessary so if I need a few minutes of your time to discuss your child, please arrange a time with me to talk. Most teachers only want the best for your child.

From a babysitters (though I prefer to use the word caregiver, this is what was used in the article) “I hate it when the mom hangs around. For example, when we’re having fun and laughing, and you come in to see what we’re doing, it spoils the momentum of our play. And if your kid’s having a tantrum or being disciplined, don’t come in either! It undermines my authority. I know it’s hard to hear someone else discipline your child. If my kids were acting up with my sitter, I’d want to go see what the problem was. But trust me, or hire someone you do trust:)”

As parents, we all do the best we can but it never hurts to get some constructive advice on how we can make life a little easier for those who care for our children. Except for the doctor’s advice, I have played all of the above roles and I loved all the children in my care. Open communication between you (parents) and those who care for your children is always key to your child’s happiness and success.

Sue Junge is an Early Childhood Support Specialist for the Iowa River Valley Early Childhood Area and is a Thursday columnist for the Times-Republican. The views expressed in this column are personal views of the writer and don’t necessarily reflect the views of the T-R. For more information, please visit