Learning to Share - Conflict Resolution for Parents and Child Care Providers

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By Melissa Newby

If your child is in child care, it's likely that you'll eventually disagree with something your child care provider does or says. Recognizing when to say something, and how to approach the subject with your provider, will help maintain a positive relationship between you and your child care provider and a healthy environment for your child.

The best way to resolve a conflict is to never let it happen in the first place. Make sure you communicate with your child care provider, letting them know your expectations about the care you want your child to receive. If there are things that you absolutely want a certain way, like your child not watching any television or eating sweets, make sure you discuss them in the initial interview. It's also important to understand that parents and providers can have different views regarding appropriate ways to raise a child. Understanding that your provider may not do things exactly as you would, but that your child is still receiving quality care, is vital in preventing conflict.

Despite the best communication, you still may disagree with something your child care provider does while caring for your child. Try to say something as soon as you notice an issue. The longer you let an issue go, the more chance there is for it to grow into something bigger. Also, the sooner you address the issue, the sooner you can resolve it and clear the air in your relationship. Not addressing the problem right away could create enough stress with your provider that you are not able to repair the relationship and may need to find a new provider.

Ask your provider for a time to discuss the issue. If possible, choose a time when you and your provider can talk without distractions. Don't talk in the doorway with your child tugging at your leg or when your provider is trying to manage 6 toddlers. Allowing you both to focus on the conversation will help you hear what each other is saying and really understand each other.

Explain your concern in simple terms, but do not accuse or blame your provider. Use statements like, "I have a concern about how much television Mike is watching", instead of, "You are letting Mike watch too much television". Both statements give the same message, but the delivery style of the first one is less accusing and will help foster a better discussion. You are both invested in the care of your child, and being able to discuss any issues rationally and openly will help your child receive quality care. Discuss the behavior that concerned you, why it concerned you, and what you would like done to correct the situation. Listen carefully to your provider so she can explain her thoughts on the situation. There may be safety or logistics reasons why your provider is doing something a certain way.

Once you have discussed the issue, restate the solution that you both agreed on. That way, you can make sure you both understand what the next steps are and how the issue is going to be resolved. A question like, "Do you feel comfortable with the solution we decided on", is a good way to make sure you both are on the same page, and gives your provider the chance to say if something is still bothering her.

Melissa Newby, MSW, has worked as a therapist and in marketing. She also co- founded http://www.daycarematch.com with her husband.

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