Friday, August 30, 2013

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Tantrum - Dr. Toughlove

Crying because the cat didn't notice her hat and beads

I work with toddlers so I've seen all kinds of temper tantrums, or "meltdowns" as parents so affectionately call them.  There is an infinite number of reasons why a child might be flying into a rage: They were denied a cookie, they saw a bug, somebody touched their arm with their finger, their sock felt wrong, etc.  I'm sure you can think of fifty off the top of your head, and if you have a two-year-old, they might be just from today. And there are a lot of resources which will tell you how to handle each case.

But while reading about human development and child psychology,  I have learned some things that suggest there are not really a million kinds of tantrums. They follow a pattern. I'm going to break them down into three categories here: Fatigue, Fear and Frustration, and Extinction Burst. There is some overlap between them but in my experience, understanding which one my child is experiencing can either help me remain calm throughout it, or at the very least make it more interesting to witness.


All parents are familiar with fatigue, so I won't go into detail about that, other than to say when a child is tired, the thing their temper is flaring over isn't really the thing. When kids fly into a rage because they were not permitted to eat glue or lick light bulbs, most parents know that it's time for a nap, not time for a detailed rational summary of all the potential hazards of glue and light bulbs. Knowing that the content of the tantrum isn't the same as the reason for it can help you save your breath if you can identify a fatigue tantrum. And if you still want to talk about the dangers of light bulbs, just make a note and bring it up later when your child is well rested and attentive.

Fear and Frustration

The second category refers to situations where children are at a loss for how to handle a social situation which they are not in command of (frustration), or they are experiencing emotions that are too big for their level of control (fear, or in some cases, anger). For example: another child takes their toy so they become aggressive. Or you take them to visit a relative they've never met and they are so afraid you have to pry their hands off the door jamb with a crowbar.  So what's going on here?  I like to call this an "emotional puzzle" and here's why.

When Early Childhood Educators want to make sure that their curriculum is balanced, they look each of the categories of development with the acronym SPLICE: Social/ Physical/ Linguistic/ Intellectual/ Cognitive/ Emotional.  Each category has modes of facilitating learning. For physical learning adults provide children with sports equipment, or fine motor activities like markers.  For cognitive learning, adults provide children with things like puzzles. For linguistic and intellectual learning, we give children books and we talk to them, among other things.  What happens in each category is that children encounter obstacles.  They miss the ball, they colour outside the lines, they put a puzzle piece in upside down, they try to speak but they say things like "I swimmed" or "pasgetti." Adults generally understand that all these errors are part of the learning process, and in many cases we find their little mistakes adorable.

Oops, forgot the torso.
So what happens in the social and emotional categories?  It isn't any different in terms of facilitating learning; adults provide group games (tag, I spy, etc) and toys that require cooperation (teeter-totters, soccer ball) in order to give children an opportunity to develop social and emotional skills. But the obstacles that children encounter in these categories are notably less pleasant in nature than obstacles in the others.  A child screaming "I had it first! It's mine it's mine!" is not as endearing as a child drawing a person with no torso.  And humans have a natural inclination to react emotionally when another human is doing the same, even if it's irrational.  That's why you hear exasperated parents shouting things like "Don't grab!" or "You're being selfish!"  or "Calm down! It's just a bug!"

Sooo... close. Here, just let me do it!
Psychologists are now telling us that a certain level frustration is healthy for children.  While it's normal to share their feelings, a better way to handle this kind of tantrum is to think of it as a learning opportunity. In the same manner you would say to a child "that puzzle piece is upside down. Try turning it,"  you can offer an emotional child an alternative behaviour to help them handle it next time. Either before the tantrum erupts, or if it's too late for that, after the tantrum has subsided and you have already dealt any necessary consequences, just tell the child, "next time try saying to your friend 'you can have this toy when I'm done'. And if they don't listen you walk away and tell a grown up." (If you have a very young or less verbal child you might have to whittle it down to "tell him 'no, not done'.")

Blue at a party.
Also keep in mind that there might be some experiences that are out of your child's range of emotional ability. For some kids, sitting on Santa's lap might be like giving them a 1000 piece puzzle.  You might need to accept that they are not ready for some things yet, and throw that activity into the "try again later" pile.  And that's okay. Alternatively, you can reduce the situation to something manageable, and assist your child one step at a time, the same way you would provide a puzzle they can do with assistance.  For example, at a birthday party one day my very shy daughter was getting overwhelmed and a tantrum was looming. So I had to talk her through it.  "We'll do three things.  First we'll put the present on the table, then go sit in the chair and eat some cake, then we'll get a balloon. And if it's still scary we'll go home." 

Children do not develop at the same rate in all categories, so don't compare your child to another one.  While another child may appear to be even tempered and empathetic, he might not be able to kick a ball or hold a pencil.  But he will one day.  And a child who is reading by age three might fly into a rage when somebody looks at her funny. But her temper will improve one day.  There is no "right" order when it comes to categories of development.
All kids are have redeeming qualities, if not a high emotional quotient. Except maybe Caillou.

Extinction Burst

This is a topic my husband brought up one night as we listened to our two-year-old bawling and screaming from her bedroom because we were weaning her off co-sleeping.  "This is just an extinction burst," he said, all academically.  He reminded me that this was the often forgotten-about part of Operant conditioning.  So what the heck does this mean?

B.F. Skinner
For the uninitiated, I'll give a brief Behaviorism for Dummies:  Psychologists like Pavlov and Skinner dealt with human behaviour as a series of conditioned responses, i.e. we do things because we're rewarded and we don't do things when we're penalized for them.  We eat because it makes us feel good and we wear shoes because rocks hurt. The system of cue–response–reward is what's commonly known as a habit, and it forms the basis for most of the things we do, not including the deliberate and rational actions we take.  Since young children don't usually think rationally, almost everything they do is the result of either a reflex or a habit. So for example if you give your child a cookie every time he cries, you will teach him to cry.  If you refuse to give him a cookie, he will eventually not cry for one anymore. This is mostly common sense. 

But does it happen instantly?  Of course not! The first time you say, "we're out of cookies..."  Tantrum! The first few times you leave him at daycare? Tantrum!  The first time you tell her "no soother?" Tantrum!  Maybe even the second and third time? Tantrum!  So what's going on? This is what's knows as an extinction burst. Literally, a burst of a behaviour that is about to become extinct because the reward is removed. When a habit is broken, the part of the brain that connects the cue with the response and reward (the basal ganglia, if you care), will fire off one extreme last-ditch effort to keep the old habit going. This is what makes you cheat on your diet, start smoking again, or click your mouse like crazy after your computer has frozen up.  The craving becomes overwhelming because your brain is sending the signal over and over that the cue demands a response now. In the case of my daughter wanting me to sleep in her bed, her little brain is telling her "yell, and she'll come back. If not, yell like a banshee! Ask to go potty! Ask for a hug! Ask for hot chocolate! Panic!"

The good news is that once the reward is removed, and once the extinction burst is over, the tantrums will stop.  Your child's brain will delete the programming that tells them they must follow hunger with sugar or loneliness with "mommy only", or distress with a soother.  They will find something else to replace it, for example healthy food, a caregiver, or a different method of self-soothing.

The controversy between the "crying-it-out" sleep training method and other "gentle" methods may stem from the fact that a child's frantic plea may be an extinction burst or it may actually be a genuine need for human contact. It's different from child to child. If you, as a parent, feel that your child is legitimately terrified of being left alone in a helpless state, crying-it-out may not be for you. You may feel that your child is confused and may be emotionally damaged if left to cry to early. But in other cases, your child may be crying simply because last night they cried and it earned them a snuggle. In this case it is not fear or an emotional need that fuels the outburst, so much as a want and a habit

In my personal opinion, if your child is so young that you don't know whether they are experiencing an actual need or just an extinction burst, I would err on the side of indulging them.  Experts say you can't spoil a child under 12 months. And once you know your child is ready to break a habit, armed with this information you can help them break it and endure the extinction burst at a time when you're both ready for it.  

Now it sounds like I'm claiming to be all rational about tantrums all the time. You might picture me watching my child, all dispassionate, while she throws herself on the ground and I take out a notebook or my camera while nodding and saying "hmm... this is all very interesting."  Sometimes I do that, just as sometimes a lot of moms laugh at the absurdity of the tantrum.  But just to be clear, once in a while, in the heat of the moment I can get very exasperated as a parent and sometimes I make mistakes, or raise my voice out of frustration.  

But I forgive myself.  And so should you.  

The facts about tantrums I have passed onto you are helpful in those times, later on, when you're reflecting on the day and wondering, "Am I being a good parent?"  You'll find that most of the time the answer is yes.  Because there is being informed about psychology and then there's being human. And in the times when you are being very human with your child, that's just another emotional puzzle for your child to master.  How do you help them solve it? You say, "I'm Sorry. Mommy got frustrated. Will you forgive me?"

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cole Harbour Salt Marsh Trail

Cole Harbour Salt Marsh Trail:  Bissett Road to Canada Goose Bridge

First a downer: I find most of the trails in HRM to be disappointing (sad trombone, wah wahhh). The reason for that is because I'm from New Brunswick, the picture province. In New Brunswick if there's a trail it generally goes somewhere wonderful. To a waterfall, a cave, a lake, a tall forest, a Dairy Queen, etc. In HRM the trails tend to be more about quantity (length) than quality (scenery). While this can be great for marathon trainers and people who need the long distance, people with young kids know that "long distance," as in "long distance from food, bathroom, television set," might not be a good thing. Long distance also means there will be long stretches of trail that your kids will find BOOOR–ING unless they enjoy rocks, short, dead underbrush and in some cases the backs of industrial buildings.

So when hiking with little ones, unless you just want them to nap in a stroller, you need to find a section of trail that has some interesting features. Enter the exciting bit of the Cole Harbour Salt Marsh Trail, which looks like this:

Now I'll admit I haven't been all the way across the salt marsh on this trail. Partly because it's a longer hike than I care to try with toddlers (they're satisfied to go to the bridge and back), and partly because I think one would need an all-terrain stroller to get past Canada Goose Bridge. (If you've gone beyond, I'd appreciate comments on this!)

The section between the big red star (Trail Head) and the Canada Goose Bridge is the part we like best.

Here's what I love about the Salt Marsh, in a pleasing bullet format:

• It's a wonderful sensory experience. There's the smell of the salty air, the evergreens, and wild roses, among other things. Then there's the varied terrain: smooth road, bumpy road, rough road. My kid likes to go "aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh" as we go over the crushed gravel. Up to the Canada goose bridge it's not prohibitively rough, but just enough produce vibrations that will soothe almost any kid to sleep.
Rough road, smooth bridge.

• The scenery is varied. First there is dense forest, then marsh, then open water and islands; a little bit of everything in one short walk.

• There's plenty of wildlife, including sea birds, but in the morning sometimes it's so quiet all you will hear is your own thighs rubbing together. I'm not sure if that's a good thing.
Quiet enough to hear a squirrel fart.

• The people who use this trail are very friendly. I don't know if it's the neighbourhood or if the salt marsh just puts people in a good mood, but EVERYONE I meet on this trail says hello.  Once I lost my keys on the bridge without noticing, and a kind person biked them back to me.  On another occasion I lost my phone here (I know, I know, careless. But it was two years in between and the bumpy road makes things fall out of my pockets.) Anyway, a gentleman found it and tracked me down at home that night.
Blue and her friends kicking one another under the gold leaves of autumn.

• There is a bathroom near the bridge end of this section of trail. Well, it's an outhouse. But it's clean, and quite necessary for the recently potty trained, or pregnant or nursing moms who need to pee a lot. 

• I'm told that this trail is great for bikes if you have a bike trailer, although I haven't tried it myself. 

• There are not as many dogs as other trails, which could be either a plus or a minus depending on how much you like dogs. Either way, there's less chance of stepping in poo, and the dog owners I have met are curteous and generally clean up after their pets.

• There are plenty of places to stop and enjoy the view, including little semi-private areas which are great for picnics. 

• Little kids LOVE the arched bridges. I have noticed that toddlers just love to run up the side of one thing and down the other side. Just be careful that they stay out of the way of cyclists (which are few and far between most days), and that they aren't small or quick enough to slip between the boards into the water. The current is quite strong! 
Up, then down. Then up, then down. Great exercise!

• I find that the construction of the trail, which is mostly raised or densely treed on the sides, allows me to let toddlers loose to walk beside the stroller without fear of them wandering into the woods. It's not steep enough that I'm worried they'll fall, but it's clearly defined enough that they have an understanding of which way they are supposed to walk. This is good because the signs indicate poison ivy, although I've never seen any.
Blue and her friend stay on track

• This walk can be done in under an hour, so if you're making a day of Cole Harbour, you can pair the trail with a visit to Rainbow Haven Beach, or Cole Harbour Heritage Farm, or the PACT centre. Sometimes I like to take this trail to get the kids to nap for a while before doing one of the other activities. Other times I just do it to kill time while waiting for the farm or PACT to open.
So pretty I can even forgive Nova Scotia for its scrawny little trees.

Directions: If you've been to Rainbow Haven Beach via Bissett Road but you haven't been to the Salt March, you have driven right by it! When you go down Bissett Road, you will see three places on your left for hikers to park. The first one is at an open space with rolling hills, the second a large squarish parking lot, and the third a small lot with enough room for one line of vehicles. All are marked with signs for the trail, but this third one is where you want to enter for the most best scenery. If you get to the log yard you've gone too far.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Your Kids Will Be Okay (A Mantra for First-World Moms)

Your babies can grow up to be a happy, healthy, successful people, even if they weren't born in a pool, or with a doula, or in a "natural" manner.
Natural Childbirth

Your babies will still have good hygiene if they wear disposable diapers.
Is it disposable? It is now.

Your  babies will learn to eat food, even if it comes from a jar and not from home grown organic food made in a special blender you bought off an infomercial.

Your toddlers will learn to speak even without sign language flash cards.
Oh, so that's what you're asking for  ...No.

Your toddlers will learn to walk even if their shoes don’t require batteries.
When your kid bangs them together at nap time, it will be a treat for the daycare teacher's eyes and ears!

Your kids will still love you if you stink at Pinterest.

Your kids will learn their names even if you don’t put them on their walls in hand-painted wooden letters.
"No, that's Konner with a K. No, a K.  K-O-N-... let me just get my plaque and show you."
Your kids can learn to read books, even if you don't get them a reading nook or an indoor hammock.
Are you kidding me?

They will learn to enjoy meals even if they never have a sandwich shaped like a grand piano.
What, only one carrot?

Your kids will develop self awareness, even if they grow up never knowing what the shape of their foot used to look like.
Um.. salt dough disintegrates outside, right? 
They will still be beautiful, even if you don't make your own hair accessories.
Why are there bees following me, Mom?

Your kids will learn to colour, even if you don't melt your crayons into pumpkin shapes.
Phew, problem solved! Now what was the problem, again?
They will be naturally creative, even if your house isn’t brimming with craft supplies.
Sorted by colour no less. I'm guessing this is the "before" picture.
They can still learn about the great outdoors, even if you don’t build a papier-mâché tree in the house.
Why wood someone do this? I'm stumped.
They will enjoy their first birthday, even if you only give them one cake, and even if you buy it. And even if you're having so much fun you forget to take a photo.

Your kids will survive without this thing...
Happy Mother's day! Here's a coaster.

...or this thing
Just don't let them see this. Or they'll want a concussion, too.

And your kids will know them you love them, even without notes on their lunch.
This is only a-peeling to pear-ents
But if your kids still don't appreciate you, there's always this affirmation-dispensing baby doll head who thinks you're fantastic.

Your kids will love you,  unconditionally, even if you're not crafty, trendy, or rich.

Remember, nobody's perfect.

A little down time. It's a good thing.

Your kids will love what you do for them, even if it's not what other moms are doing.

And if you do everything on this list anyway, your kids will be okay, too.  

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

11 Things Your Daycare Centre Teachers Won't Tell You

I spend a lot of time talking to other childcare providers. Or, more honestly, eavesdropping on other childcare providers while at childcare workshops. And yes, they complain about parents. This shouldn't come as a shock. Parents pay the fees, so they are technically the employers.  And what hardworking citizens don't complain about their bosses from time to time?  Here's what they're saying to you in their re-imagined conversations with you when they actually have the girl-balls to say it.

1. Your kid needs a nap.

This is how it starts: one parent asks if their kid can skip naps. That kid goes to bed earlier, and the parent tells another parent. Pretty soon all the parents are asking if their kid can skip nap.
We totally understand how fantastic it is when your kid is so spent at the end of the day they hit the hay at 6pm and Mommy gets to have her wine. But there are a few things a parent should consider.

Napping is good for the brain. Most young children require a nap, and the younger they are, the more they require it. Napping is important for storing memories and  new information, for optimizing cognitive function, and minimizing emotional problems. Kids who don't nap and need to are less likely to retain what they learned in the morning. Kids who are suffering from sleep deprivation for a portion of each day are more likely to be misdiagnosed with a learning or behavioral problem.
A second consideration  is the daycare may be required to enforce naps, due to licensing restrictions and employee break restrictions. Not all centres have the facilities to separate nappers from non-nappers. If this doesn't work for you, it's possible that centre may not be the right place for your child.

If napping in the day is really causing an issue for you and your centre won't, or can't comply with your no-nap wishes,  there are things you can do. You can ask for "quiet time," which most centres allow. Which means that your child must lay quietly as if they were going to sleep, and once the sleepers have nodded off, they are permitted to look at books or do other quiet activities on their beds.You can also ask that your child be awakened after a certain amount of time, which most centers are happy to comply with.

Alternatively, if your concern is that your child is having difficulty sleeping at night, you can ask the daycare providers to encourage your child to be more physically active during the day, especially in the afternoon.  Teachers can play tag with them, dance, or provide equipment for their favorite game or sport. Your child will love this, and your daycare teacher will have to do their job and engage with the kids instead of just chatting with other teachers about Grey's Anatomy.

2. Your kid isn't special.

Without arguing the semantics of  "if everybody's special then nobody is," I'll just clarify that what I mean is that your very precious child must, unfortunately, submit to the totalitarian collectivism that is group daycare. Teachers are required by law to maintain their teacher to child ratios with no exceptions. So if little Maximus (all my hypothetical kids have hipster parents) doesn't want to play in the snow because he's feeling under the weather, he needs to stay home, lest he ruin the fun of seven other kids who would also have to stay inside with him. Same goes for parents who ask if little Anchovy can go without a hat or sunscreen, or if Leelou can sneak peanut butter sandwiches in despite the allergy bans because "that's all she'll eat." They can't even stay up and play with toys if if they're not sleepy, in case they wake up the nappers in the room by pushing bottons on a musical firetruck. Nope, your daycare policies are there for the good of the collective whole. For more information on daycare policy, read something by Ayn Rand.

Circle Time

3. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. 

"Whenever I look at my child on the webcam, he's just sitting there all alone. Where's the teacher?" In a large group setting, a teacher will spend nearly every second of free-play mediating fights, enforcing discipline, wiping bottoms, kissing boo-boos, and giving assistance to children who are lacking self-help skills.  If you have a child who is self-sufficient and playing quietly by himself, you may see your child in solitary play while another child appears to have a lot of teacher interaction. This is unfortunate. But the reality of group care is that teachers' primary concern is to keep kids healthy, safe, and developing normally. So if your child is already okay in those three categories, they might not have much one-on-one time. This might be okay if they are able to benefit from independent play, and in other cases it might be undesirable.  If you feel your child needs more, you might want to look into a centre with smaller ratios.

4. PLEASE Bring appropriate gear!

 Those single-layer magic gloves from the Dollar Store are crap when it's snowing out. The second they get wet, which is right away if your child is a thumb sucker, they are doing more harm than good. Those mittens with the impossibly tiny thumb-hole?  Too-big gloves that actually were meant for the teenage brother?  Snow gloves or tie-up shoes for a toddler?  How much time to you think we have?!!  Picture 24 three-year olds who can't tie their shoes or get their fingers into glove holes. That's 48 feet and 240 fingers. And when you fly into a rage because little Atticus came to daycare with two mitts and now he only has one, remember that between hats, mitts, boots, socks, neck warmers, and 24 children, teachers have 192 articles of clothing to keep track of daily, and approximately 196,578 occasions daily to remind children to put their mitts back on. We might miss one. Sorry. 

Where's my mitten?


5. Daycare teachers are no substitute for parents.

We love having a bond with your child, but you will always be her primary caregiver, and the most important person influence in her life. So when you drop her off at 6 am and don't pick her up until 5:30, we feel sad. If you need to work two jobs to get by, that's understandable, commendable even. But if you get off work at 3pm and spend every afternoon at the casino, your relationship with your child will suffer, and daycare teachers will talk about you "hypothetically", behind your back.

Sure, you need some personal time once in a while. But most of the time, daycare is for when you can't be with your child, not for when you don't want to be.
C'mon, baby needs a new pair of mittens


6. Save the Sunday Best for Sunday.

Notwithstanding the fact that showcasing your daughter like a pageant queen can damaging to her self image, it is also extremely impractical to bring her to daycare in puffed sleeves and crinoline. I'm not talking about picture day or the Christmas party, or the "She-chose-her-own-clothes-and-we're-encouraging-the-autonomy" phase. I'm talking about people who dress their child up like a Las Vegas showgirl so that her little friends can see how pretty she looks, make them spin around and show it off, and then instruct the teacher that clean clothes are in the bag and that she should get changed before starting anything messy.
What do they mean by anything messy?  Daycare is messy. Within ten minutes of opening, everything at daycare is covered in a thin layer  paint, mud and mucus. So what was the point of dressing up?
Having a pretty princess in class helps nobody. It makes the playing field uneven among the jealous and sensibly dressed girls, and the little princess either gets fought over or ostracized. While parents may think showboating a girls' beauty is good for her self esteem, it can also teach her that appearance is an attribute that should be prioritized over her achievements. We don't need to teach girls this, Disney already does that for us.
Who's ready to finger-paint?

7. Please be on time at the end of the day!  

It's heartbreaking to tell a child that mommy will arrive soon and then she doesn't.  You don't have to come early if that's not possible for you, just inform the centre if you're going to be much later than the usual routine so your child doesn't end up sitting there at the end of the day, sweating in their snowsuit in a room full of mentally checked-out teachers who are chatting to each other about what happened on Big Brother last night. Teachers understand that things happen- traffic on the bridge, flat tires, etc. But if you give them a quick call they will be able plan some more activities to keep your child distracted while they wait for you.

8. We know what goes on at home.

Your language, mannerisms, and ideologies are all reflected in your child's behavior. For example, if your toddler enjoys using ride-on toys with his friends but continuously shouts things like, "learn to drive, numb nuts!" we can all assume that mom or dad might have a little trouble with road rage. Most teachers won't say anything to challenge your parenting skills; they are meant to be supportive. But that doesn't mean they aren't secretly wishing you would be a better role model in some areas.
Just remember, your kids are watching you closely, and we're watching them closely. So always try to be the same person around your kids as you are around your daycare provider.

9. We can't guarantee other children won't bite your child.

I hear this frequently: teachers complaining about irate parents who threaten to sue, or verbally attack another parent because their child got bitten. Lots of toddlers bite for lots of reasons, and it is indeed frustrating for everyone.  The trouble is, when you have a child who is a biter there is no quick solution.  They could be a perfectly normal, well adjusted child otherwise, but they just do not have the cognitive function to understand what they are doing, and even with discipline it may take a number of trials and many bites and crying friends before the child learns not to bite. Keeping the child in isolation won't help them learn, either. Usually when a bite occurs, there is no warning, and even a well supervised child can suddenly chomp down on another child just as easily as some kids put play-dough or rocks into their mouths.  Many centers can't exclude biters from their facility because they have an inclusive policy and they have accepted the challenge to help all children work through their developmental obstacles.
When a child hurts another child, Daycare teachers are not permitted to give you any personal information on the child who did it or their motives- that information is protected under confidentiality policy. So they are in a frustrating position where they can't tell you why it happened or what they are doing about it, because those matters concern the other child. Moving your child to a different room might not even be the best option for a child who has been bitten because A: there are likely many children getting bitten by that one child and they can't move them all or put that child in isolation and B: removing them from the room interrupts the bond between your child and their primary caregiver, which may be more damaging than a bite.
If your child gets bitten, don't panic. While your first instinct might be one of anger and accusation, try to take a moment and remember that these are children. They're not rational, or even necessarily spiteful or malicious. So stay calm and help your daycare provider troubleshoot the problem. Ask, "what are we going to do about this?" You might suggest that the teacher obtain "Teeth are not for Biting" by Elizabeth Verdick for circle time. And read it to your own child as well. Use this as an opportunity to teach your child social problem solving skills. Suggest to your child things they can do if they get bitten (Telling the friend, "no" and walking away, telling a teacher, choosing a different friend to play with, etc.)  And remember: Getting irate in front of your child will do more damage to your child than the bite itself.

Todders: So adorable, yet so deadly.

10. We love your child.

While the relationship with a parent and a daycare provider is a business relationship, the one that grows between the teacher and child is a very real and often emotional bond. It is very good for your child to have this kind of loving, nurturing relationship with a primary caregiver. Of course Mom and Dad will always be number 1, but severing the bonds between your child and caregiver can be a difficult transition, so pulling them out of daycare abruptly, changing centers often, or even having your child in a center with a lot of turnover is not good for their emotional well being.
Early Childhood Educators put a lot of work into nurturing child's formative years to build a foundation for them to grow upon, but then the children go off to school.Teachers don't get to reap any of the rewards that come from watching them grow and  blossom. Even worse, the child often forgets all about the daycare teacher in time, although the teacher will never forget the child.  So please, talk about us with your child, take a photo of us together before your child's last day, and most of all, come back to visit! 

11. You're doing a great job!

You might not hear this from your daycare provider, but you should. So often caregivers focus on the areas that  need improvement, they fail to mention the things you have done right.  Your child may have, for example, a bad temper but a lot of compassion, and that soft side is something they learned from Mom and Dad. If your child seems to be a holy terror and all you get is bad reports, there could be a number of reasons for that behaviour. The daycare provider isn't telling you about the behaviour to criticize your parenting, just to keep you informed. What they should be doing is congratulating you for making it through the difficult preschool years one day at a time, and letting you know that it takes a strong parent to make it, so good job!
Even if your child is well behaved and all you ever get is a bland "she had a good day," know that your child is very special indeed!  The kids that don't give the teachers any trouble are a huge source of relief for us!  We LOVE them. And we appreciate you for raising such a great child! 

First and Last two Images courtesy of Jeanne Claire Maarbes, David Castillo Dominici, and arztsamui, respectively/
Other images blatantly stolen from google images with no apologies.