Here we are at another edition of answering the questions that you guys asked!
Brenda said: Tell us some lessons you have learned by doing child care for so long, I'm sure you have a lot of interesting stories related to that.
Whoo Nellie. There are plenty. If you are new here, I have been a child care provider for 20 years now. So lessons there have been aplenty. Now if I could just recall some of them because I have to relate them. LOL. It's such a vast topic I'll try to narrow it down to a few that are really standing out at the moment.
~Preschoolers thrive on routine. Knowing in general what will happen through out the day takes away a lot of anxiety. Surprises are fun and nice, but if they can't count on anything throughout the day, it produces stress that manifests in behavior. I'm not talking about being so regimented you can't at all be flexible or change things up, but I do some flexibility within a schedule. My kids thrived on it and so do my dayhome children over the years.
~Not every preschooler is ready to roll with unbounded energy the moment they arrive. Just like us adults, some are not morning people. I make allowances for those who need that extra hour to get with it.
~Use timeouts wisely and for definite bad behavior and/or breaking of rules. And be consistent with it. Using it willy nilly nullifies it's effectiveness.
~I'm still learning this one after all these years but realize food issues will happen. For years and years I used to majorly stress about this one. I came from a household that belonged to the clean your plate club. I couldn't stand when kids were picky and I was throwing all this food out. Being on a budget, that made me crazy. But kids are developing their taste buds and what one loves, another will hate. Put that together with 6 preschoolers in the house and it could major stressville.
~ That being said I also do not run a short order kitchen. Snack and lunch are at specific times. (Again, that is part of the routine they can count on.) I give a couple of options on their plates. For example: I never just put a sandwich down in front of them and demand they eat every bite because that is all they will get. I also put veggies or maybe serve a soup with it, so that if they absolutely can't stand one they at least can still eat the other. If I do serve sandwiches I try to give them options within the sandwich. For example: If it's ham that day, I let them choose with cheese or butter or mayo. Lettuce or not. It gives them a sense of control and they are more likely to eat it. If they absolutely refuse, I try to stay calm and encourage them to just take a taste in case they've changed their minds from the last time and then I try to encourage them to at least have as many bites as how old they are. A biggie I have learned is serve small, (sometimes what seems to me like teeny portions to the more picky child) and then let them have seconds if they want. So much better than stressing about throwing out food. And they feel proud because they were able to taste and eat their portion rather than being overwhelmed by what seems to them an insurmountable amount set in front of them.
~Again, along those lines, they may not help themselves all day long to food and drinks. Snack is at snack and lunch is at lunch. Juice is for snack time, milk at lunch and if they are thirsty water is available whenever their little hearts desire. They soon learn if they refuse food, it's a ways away until the next eating time. And I always remind them of that fact if they are refusing what the meal of the time is.
~But along that road is common sense. I do not do this with babies or toddlers who don't understand. This is for the preschooler who is starting to have understanding of consequences that come with their choices. No child ever leaves my house starving but I do have parents tell me all the time that they can't believe their child will eat certain things at my house while at home they won't. I know it's because at my house they know the routine and they learn the consequence of not eating their lunches or snacks. They know they are not allowed to help themselves into my fridge or cupboards anytime they want and so that makes what they are served just a little more appealing. :v)
~I have also learned all sorts of underlying causes will manifest themselves in outward behavior. When consistent bad behavior is being displayed, I try my best to stay as calm as I can and maybe try and discern if something else is going on. A preschooler does not always have the skill and capability to voice what is really going on. Not feeling well, lack of sleep, out of routine, even watching something on tv that upset them but they can't put words to, affect behavior.
~ But the biggest thing I have have learned and still remind myself about constantly is Don't sweat the small stuff. And most of it is small stuff in the bigger picture!
Whew, that was a few. If you are still with me after all of that, bless you. You deserve a reward! :v)