Last Friday, I had the opportunity to share a conversation with two women who have worked in infant and preschool child care for years and are currently doing a different kind of work. It was enlightening to hear the difficulties that they have dealt with: parents who can’t believe their precious toddler would bite a classmate. Preschoolers who lie and accuse their caregiver of hitting them and the truth is discovered only after the investigation, when the child does the same thing with another teacher a week later. Parents that sell their LINK card (Food Stamps) and then the child has meals only at the day care, none at home.
I told them that I have always been impressed with the day care workers where my kids have been. Except one. She used to make a list of my son’s transgressions and each day when I went to pick him up she would pass them on to me like prettily wrapped packages of poo. I knew he was struggling in a classroom setting. He was cognitively ahead of his classmates and emotionally behind them, which made him frustrated. I knew he would have done better if I had homeschooled him. But it wasn’t an option financially.
I came up with my own system for deciding when to discipline him at home for school infractions. Mouthiness, defiance of authority, creative interpretation of the rules were not grounds for punishment at home. The day care was punishment enough for those infractions. Only if he physically hurt or threatened someone: kicking, biting, spitting, was he disciplined at home. And we came up with a sticker chart for positive days–5 in a row and there was a small reward.
I am happy to report that things have turned around for this beloved son, and his detentions this year have been because he forgot to wear his belt.