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#1 of 33 Old 09-17-2010, 10:44 PM - Thread Starter
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This is about a Montessori center but I posted here because it's a more general question---especially for other DCPs or former DCPs.

Recently I went from being a SAHM to a WOHM full time. I put my now 20-month old son in a big chain center that turned out to be very bad for him. Speaking to kids harshly, not supervising children properly, lots of state regulation violations, never saw teachers actually playing with the kids, and my son never adjusted properly, and in fact started pinching himself and scratching himself there after 2.5 weeks so I yanked him out. My mom watched him for a week until I could get him into another center. (read: lots of transitions)

New center is supposedly amazing, best daycare in town, etc. His lead teacher is clearly wonderful, she's warm, nurturing, plays with the kids, my son likes her enough to give her hugs and kisses, the space is very inviting, etc.

Problem: On the morning of his 8th full day there, his director called me up to say we need to meet to have a discussion about his crying. Interestingly, his lead teacher is out of town for several days at this time, and she's never brought this up with me, and his daily reports almost always come back saying he had a good day. Apparently according to the director he still cries a fair amount. So she says she thinks it's not separation anxiety, that he's just crying because he can't have his way all the time (which is wrong, he's clearly missing me and clingy all night when we get home, but even if it WAS right I still don't like her solution). I think sometimes his crying might be set off by being told that he can't do something like go outside, but that the separation anxiety and adjustments are exacerbating the crying, since he doesn't do that at home. I also think he's crankier than normal because he's got a bad cold and is not eating much at daycare.

Her solution to crying is to make him sit on the stair leading into the classroom until he stops crying, and don't let him get up until he stops. So basically, giving my kid a time out for crying--although she refuses to call it a time out. He apparently got several of these time outs this morning over the first hour that he was there. She also says that when he cries and the teachers pick him up to comfort him, he doesn't stop crying, so she's told the teachers they're no longer allowed to hold him when he's crying and not stopping. She also says that when he cries he tends to carry around any random toy for a long time but not play with it--just wander around crying and holding the toy. She's decided that since the toy is not helping, he's not allowed to carry anything around when crying. So the drill is--remove toy from child's hand, sit him on the steps and tell him: "Put your yuckies (tears, I guess?) away. Happy boy! Happy!" and walk away. They don't do this for any other child in the school.

I have a meeting to discuss this on Monday. I have already planned what I'm going to say. What I do need feedback on is whether I'm overreacting to this. Is this a common technique to get kids to stop crying? Is this as unacceptable as I feel it is? If everything else about the center was wonderful, and I cannot convince them to change their mind about doing this, is it reasonable to pull him out of this center, too? Am I that freakish parent that thinks no daycare is good enough for her child?

On the other hand, is she right that he should be adjusted already? Is there something wrong with my kid? Is my kid just not cut out for daycare and I have to find another solution?

Finally, any tips to help a 20 month old adjust that I can suggest at the meeting? Either tips for me at home or tips for the teachers?
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#2 of 33 Old 09-17-2010, 11:28 PM
 
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I would start by clarifying something. Is he just crying, or is he doing something else more unacceptable while crying?

If he is just crying, then the isolation of the stairs combined with the punishment of having any comfort items taken away seems pretty counter productive. The telling him to be happy seems really icky to me.

I do think it is ok to remove the crying child from the presence of the other children, I understand that his crying would be distressing to other children, but I would expect that removal to be done in a kind and helpful manner. There are all kinds of possibilities, they could take him for a walk, let him lie down on a cot in the nap room maybe with soothing music, let him sit on a lap of one of the people who work in the office. There are many possible ways to help him through this, I would expect different ones to work for different students.

Whether or not one agrees with the use of time out in principle, it isn't really age appropriate, and children really should be allowed to express their feelings.

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#3 of 33 Old 09-17-2010, 11:29 PM
 
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Even though it's not in the Montessori board, let me reply as a Montessori teacher and just say no....NOT appropriate.

I cannot imagine anything the teacher is doing that would be considered OK. She says it's not a time out, but she's saying to stop crying? She calls the tears yuckies!?!?!?

If the teacher tried comforting and that didn't work, they should have a quiet area the child can be in to calm down. That's not just a Montessori concept. That has been said at every basic level ECE training class I have had to attend.

It seems like the teacher's attitude is one where crying is not OK. If I could say what I think about it, you would think I am not nice....so I won't.
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#4 of 33 Old 09-17-2010, 11:51 PM
 
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Originally Posted by MattBronsil View Post
.

It seems like the teacher's attitude is one where crying is not OK. If I could say what I think about it, you would think I am not nice....so I won't.

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#5 of 33 Old 09-17-2010, 11:54 PM
 
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That is not an appropriate thing to do with a crying child of any age. When a child is crying they need empathy and either a cuddle or a safe place and comfortable place to cry. A stair with no comfort item isn't a safe place. Montessori is a curricullum that is very popular in many areas in America and it may be that the reputation as good comes from that rather than from it actually being a good place for kids. There are probably good Montessori programs with caring teachers who understand the way children develop, but there are many bad ones out there that you have to weed through because it is such a fad and people just tag on the label to get kids in.

When my dd was in preschool she was crying a lot, some of it started because she is sensitive but it was made worse by the teacher telling her to stop and not offering any comfort because she thought it was a behavior problem. The teacher asked to have her observed in the classroom and I agreed to it because they look at the environment when they do that and recommend changes if it is a problem being caused by the teacher. It turned out that it was the teacher who was the problem and the behavior analyst who did the observations recommended changes to the classroom that included being empathetic and giving my dd a safe place to cry. We were lucky to have supervisors there that worked closely with the teacher to make sure she changed what she was doing and my dd was much happier and cried much less. If they aren't willing to make a change I suggest looking for a different setting.
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#6 of 33 Old 09-17-2010, 11:58 PM
 
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Yes, it's just as unacceptable as you think it is. And the "yuckies" thing is awful. I really hate it when adults tell children their emotions are wrong or unacceptable in some way.
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#7 of 33 Old 09-18-2010, 12:06 AM
 
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OMG, that's awful. Totally unacceptable.

I agree with eepster that sometimes separating an upset child from the class until he can calm down is the right thing to do. It can really upset the rest of the class, and everyone being upset feeds off eachother and soon there are 15 completely out of sorts kids, and the original kid is still crying.

But, no. Taking away a comfort object? OMG! Telling him he MUST be happy? No! I mean, gently saying "Okay, we're going to sit here until we're calm" is one thing... but telling someone that they have to be happy is completely unacceptable. And there should be enough coverage in the classroom that a teacher can sit with him and help calm him down.

When is the teacher coming back? Can you talk to her? Is there any way your mom can watch him again while you wait to talk to the teacher? Maybe she can talk some sense into the director. If not, I think this place is not going to work out.

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#8 of 33 Old 09-18-2010, 12:52 AM
 
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No, it is not appropriate.

I worked in a daycare in a 3-5 year old room (well before I had my own). I never saw this type of 'discipline' even with the older children in my group. I definitely sat with children who were upset and never saw a child given a
'time-out' for crying.

So his lead teacher has been out of the class room within the first two weeks of his being in the room? The first time you're hearing about this problem is from the director? Not from the caregivers that see your son all day?

The only time I remember involving the director in any situation when I worked in the daycare was for a child with severe tantrums/behavioral problems that were also being addressed professionally outside of the center.

Sorry for your situation, I hope you work this out and find a solution you are happy with.

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#9 of 33 Old 09-18-2010, 06:27 AM
 
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No, not okay. Yuckies?? What??

I find it hard you have been through two bad experiences. I might suggest that the two are related - maybe he learned daycare is a scary place. I don't think the stair solution is going to change that. And frankly I find it appalling at that age. (Or any age.)

The problem is not your child. Maybe it's your area in that it seems like you have a lot of dud centres. Maybe it's the local childrearing culture. I don't know. But it's not unusual for a 20 month old to have trouble separating. It's also entirely possible he misses his regular teacher.

Our Montessori's teachers dispense - hugs and comfort. I don't see what the issue is.

I am so sorry.

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#10 of 33 Old 09-18-2010, 06:39 AM
 
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I'm sorry I don't have any advice but I just wanted to say that I don't think you're overreacting. What you described sounds awful and I would be devastated if anyone treated my baby that way.

ETA - and how does she know that carrying the toy isn't helping? Maybe it makes him feel better even if it doesn't stop the crying, or maybe the crying would be worse if he didn't have the toy.

It sounds to me like he misses you and that lowers his resiliance so that he is more easily triggered ie being told that he can't do something causes him to cry at daycare but not at home. I was like that as a child. I didn't like being away from my parents and would cry much more easily as a result.

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#11 of 33 Old 09-18-2010, 09:12 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you all for your support, and I'm glad everyone agrees with my gut reaction.

To clarify, his lead teacher has only been out of town two days, and the morning of her first day gone this was brought to my attention, so I certainly think missing her might have played in to this--and I'm suspicious that she might not know what the director is doing in her absence. His classroom is right next to the director's office so she can hear him crying (I'm guessing it disturbs her work) and so she goes in his room to see what's up. His lead teacher has never mentioned any concern about his crying to me, although she's mentioned that he does have a rough 30 minutes or so after drop-off. His lead also seems to be very nurturing. During the transition week where we did a couple hours per day and I would stay part of the time with him, she would carry him around for up to an hour at a time just to comfort him and bond with him. When I do pick-up I often see her sitting on the floor playing with him or reading him books. So other than this current mess with the director, I'd love to stay at the center. I'm going to put on my best persuasive diplomatic face on Monday and explain what I think would be helpful to him. We'll see what happens.

In our last conversation, the director also suggested that maybe the problem was that at home whenever he cried I'd give in to him. When I denied that, she said maybe still nursing him was the problem, since he was used to getting that comfort all day. When I told her we usually only nurse before and after bedtimes and naptimes, she said maybe the fact that I haven't taught him sign language is the problem, so he's not able to express his needs. Clearly, she thinks I'm the problem.
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#12 of 33 Old 09-18-2010, 01:22 PM
 
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In our last conversation, the director also suggested that maybe the problem was that at home whenever he cried I'd give in to him. When I denied that, she said maybe still nursing him was the problem, since he was used to getting that comfort all day. When I told her we usually only nurse before and after bedtimes and naptimes, she said maybe the fact that I haven't taught him sign language is the problem, so he's not able to express his needs.

I am mad on your behalf. So, a 20 month old, who has only been in care for a brief time, had his primary leave for a few days, and he has had to make two transitions and the adults are not bending to help him? This director is not appropriate at all. She has put all the "problems" on you and hasn't used an ounce of empathy.

I don't see this situation going well, as the director isn't willing to meet your sons needs and I can see her making him the problem kid, thus, you would become the problem family. Are there any NAEYC accredited centers in your area?

This is really a Montessori program? *ugh* I can't believe how unwilling they are to work with you.

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#13 of 33 Old 09-18-2010, 02:51 PM
 
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Oh. Hell. No.

The director has lost her mind if she thinks her approach is kind or even effective.

I would be livid. I AM livid on your behalf.

She's teaching your son that emotions are bad and deserve isolation. Teaching him that no one will help him when he is sad.

Horrific.

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#14 of 33 Old 09-18-2010, 03:21 PM
 
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How long is the lead teacher going to be gone? Is it possible to find alternative care until she's back?

That director sounds like a complete UVA. Even if I loved the teacher, I might consider finding another place b/c having someone in charge that thinks that way could continue to be a major problem.

The whole thing sucks.
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#15 of 33 Old 09-19-2010, 11:32 AM
 
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I am mad on your behalf. So, a 20 month old, who has only been in care for a brief time, had his primary leave for a few days, and he has had to make two transitions and the adults are not bending to help him? This director is not appropriate at all. She has put all the "problems" on you and hasn't used an ounce of empathy.
This.

Quote:
Yuckies?? What??
And this!

Standard practice here is to allow a month for a toddler to transition into daycare. And yes, to hold. And allow comfort objects. Can you get ahold of the lead teacher and find out whether she has the situation under control so the directress won't interfere with your DS again or is there a chance that he will be subjected to this "discipline" - ie neglect! - again and again? Because no matter how awful it must feel to have to pull him again, there is probably no way around it.

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#16 of 33 Old 09-20-2010, 10:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Update:

Meeting went relatively well. They agreed to change some of the important things, like changing their language to remove the invalidation and acknowledge his sadness, stop commanding him to stop crying, and agreed to allow me to bring a comfort object for him to hold when he’s taken out of the room (they still don’t want him holding a toy from the classroom *insert eyerolling here*). I don’t have a problem with him being taken out of the room as long as it’s done in a respectful, comforting, and helpful way rather than a punitive way. He does tend to get irritated when the room is very chaotic and busy, because he’s used to being at home with just me in a very quiet, open apartment, so I think it probably does help him calm down to be taken out one-on-one with his teacher. His teachers seemed very reasonable and amenable to working with me, and acknowledged that his separation anxiety was playing a big role, and his lead offered her cell phone # to call her directly if I ever had any more concerns about how they were treating him. The director continued to be very pushy and condescending, and conveyed that she believes that his behavior was willful tantrums.
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#17 of 33 Old 09-21-2010, 02:37 PM
 
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OP: This has already been addressed, but I just wanted to say that I consider that behaviour emotionally abusive. Your son has been through a lot of transitions in a very short time, and it's really just mean to treat him like that. This was on his 8th day?? Eight days isn't very long to adjust, especially after a negative first experience and another transitional phase (the week with your mom) in between!

I'm glad things sound on track to an improvement. The director sounds like a nightmare, and I wouldn't want her working with my kids in any capacity.

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#18 of 33 Old 09-21-2010, 02:44 PM
 
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I think I can peg her type: she got to where she is largely through luck and basic competence, but she's scared to death that someone will figure out that she's not even remotely qualified to be in her role. That's the type of person who puts down someone else's education and experience: someone who feels inadequate about her own and is trying to mask it. She obviously doesn't know what she's doing, and her behavior towards you pretty much proves that she is well aware of that.

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#19 of 33 Old 09-21-2010, 05:18 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Eligracey View Post
THer solution to crying is to make him sit on the stair leading into the classroom until he stops crying, and don't let him get up until he stops. So basically, giving my kid a time out for crying--although she refuses to call it a time out. He apparently got several of these time outs this morning over the first hour that he was there. She also says that when he cries and the teachers pick him up to comfort him, he doesn't stop crying, so she's told the teachers they're no longer allowed to hold him when he's crying and not stopping. She also says that when he cries he tends to carry around any random toy for a long time but not play with it--just wander around crying and holding the toy. She's decided that since the toy is not helping, he's not allowed to carry anything around when crying. So the drill is--remove toy from child's hand, sit him on the steps and tell him: "Put your yuckies (tears, I guess?) away. Happy boy! Happy!" and walk away. They don't do this for any other child in the school.
ABSOLUTELY NOT NOT NOT OK; in any way, shape or form. I'll read the other replies in a minute. But this is a clear message to your DS to bury his feelings, suck them all deep inside and put on a face, false face emulating happiness. And on top of that, deprive him of human contact when he needs it (other teachers to comfort him), AND deprive him of an object to hold on to, since he isn't allowed to hold on to a human being. UGH! Disgusting. Rant over. .... and btw, I am a firm pro-daycare mom. Both DS and then DD started daycare at 11 months, and the transition was tough, especially for DD, who clinged to me for dear life every day when I came to pick her up as if she had been tourtured tooth and nail, when I knew she had been in loving hands. And there were some problems (regarding me still BF her, and I went in and made a stink twice, once verbally and once in writing and got it resolved and my wishes respected.) But forcing an upset child into CIO time-out (even if this is not what she calls it) only tells that child he has no right to be upset, he has no right to his feelings. He has EVERY RIGHT to his feelings. So not ok, imo. I'd tell her this is totally unacceptable, specifically because it denies him his feelings instead of allowing him to work through them. And it should stop now, or sooner.
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#20 of 33 Old 09-21-2010, 10:19 PM
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I think I can peg her type: she got to where she is largely through luck and basic competence, but she's scared to death that someone will figure out that she's not even remotely qualified to be in her role. That's the type of person who puts down someone else's education and experience: someone who feels inadequate about her own and is trying to mask it. She obviously doesn't know what she's doing, and her behavior towards you pretty much proves that she is well aware of that.
SCORE!!!!
this is so on point.

i work with kids of the same age (18-22 months right now) and i would probably be close to fired for doing any of those things.
we don't do time-outs let alone time-outs outside of the room.
if a kid has a comfort toy from anywhere (there's even one kid in my room right now who borrows another kid's lovey...the other kid doesn't care, sometimes she brings it to him...) more power to them. even on cots, if they can fall asleep with a toy from the room in their hand...great!
and IMO, even if a kid is crying and isn't going to stop...if you have the ability and the time and if the kid wants it, a crying kid in arms is better than a crying kid not in arms.
i do even at this age allow and facilitate involvement of the other kids of the room for comforting (which is another reason we would never remove....unless it was to take a walk or get a breather). even as toddlers they are very competent and it is amazing how one child can calm another better than a teacher. i've seen kids hug, give toys, make silly faces.....

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#21 of 33 Old 09-21-2010, 10:44 PM
 
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I live in Kentucky, which is not far from southwestern Virginia...

The director's ideas about discipline sets off a huge red flag for me.

I used to work in a daycare, one that was in a church. The director had the EXACT same discipline method for anxious, crying toddlers. I worked in the 2 year old room and we had a little girl who was hysterical when first came. The director wouldn't let us pick her up, wouldn't let her carry a comfort object, etc. The little girl would cry until she vomited multiple times a day and we weren't allowed to hold her. It was horrible.

The teachers at the center were very, very loving but the director was above everything. She got to set the rules and she enforced them. Lots of bad things went on that parents had absolutely no idea about, like children not being allowed to have anything to drink between meals. At meals they were allowed half of a tiny kid sized glass of kool aid, milk, or water, and no more because otherwise they would pee too much...

Anyway, OP, be very very watchful of other things going on at your child's daycare center.

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#22 of 33 Old 09-30-2010, 05:18 PM
 
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Oh. Hell. No.

The director has lost her mind if she thinks her approach is kind or even effective.

I would be livid. I AM livid on your behalf.

She's teaching your son that emotions are bad and deserve isolation. Teaching him that no one will help him when he is sad.

Horrific.

V
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#23 of 33 Old 09-30-2010, 06:19 PM
 
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Yikes, pull him out! There are so many red flags in this posting. I wouldn't hesitate to withdraw him from this place.
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#24 of 33 Old 09-30-2010, 06:25 PM
 
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Lord, it was painful to read your post so I didn't get through the first two paragraphs. Just scanned them again, and want to say that I'm HORRIFIED. This woman should not be working with children. This is emotional abuse, it's damaging. I would inform the other parents of her methods, and report her. And when you meet her, tell her your honest feelings/perspective about the whole thing so that she knows how crippling this approach can be for a small kid -- maybe she'll stop, or develop some awareness, or think twice, even if just temporarily while you file a complaint.

Your child's behavior is appropriate and normal, and kids adjust in their own time. But they need nurturing every step of the way, and not be subjected to isolation and shame.
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#25 of 33 Old 09-30-2010, 06:31 PM
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the only person having 'willful tantrums' is the director.

honestly, i would keep a *very* close watch on what is going on, and tell them director that i will not tolerate accusations against my child's normal behaviors. sounds to me like typical separation anxiety. first from you, then from the teacher with whom he connected. *duh*

the right course of action is a comfort object and holding. that seems obvious to me. a quiet place might also be helpful; my very cheery son gets overwhelmed in the indoor part of playgroup--and i'm usually right there next to him. he'll come over and want 'yums' (comfort nursing).

so, yeah, if you're going to keep him there, then i would keep a very close eye on everything.
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#26 of 33 Old 10-03-2010, 12:46 AM
 
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My son was in a Montessori program all last school year, from 12 months to 22 months. We were off together for the summer, then he went back this August (right after he turned 2). And it still took about 3 weeks for him to adjust! Even though he had been at the program for a year!

At his school they would never handle a crying child like you describe. They cuddle and redirect. For example, with my son, they give him a job to do in the mornings (turn on the lights, take down the chairs, and help prepare snack.) He loves to help, so they plugged into his needs. He also loves animals, so sometimes they will walk with him outside and see the rabbit or the goats.

If a child is really losing it they will move him away from the group, but not in a punishing, isolating sense. Just so his tears don't become contagious.

And the removing of a comfort object? No way. My kid has dragged his sweatshirt around for an hour when he needed to.

But it does take time for a child to adjust, even under the best of circumstances. And your son has NOT had the best of circumstances due to all of his recent transitions. The way the director is handling this situation makes me so sad.

Sleepy mama to Colin Theodore 8-12-08 and Trevor Arthur 7-17-12.

 

 

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#27 of 33 Old 10-03-2010, 02:17 AM
 
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I noticed your update and I would be even more worried about a place where the director and the teacher agree that the child needs to be removed from the room for being sad. I just witnessed the one on one with a teacher that the teacher in the 2-3 year old room uses for barely 2 year old girl who just moved into that room and has a lot of seperation anxiety where I work and it was not the loving situation the one on one phrasing implies. She was against the wall crying and the teacher was standing over her telling her over and over again to be all done. I really think that if the director support is that bad from day one you should find somewhere else. I also really doubt that the director will give this method a lot of trying if it doesn't work quickly so I suggest a backup plan. One on one, especially outside of the classroom, means that the children get less of the teacher than they already get, the other teacher is left with almost twice the workload and may not be able to give the amount of supervision toddlers really need, and it may violate the regulations for ratios so the kids that need a lot of one on one are often made to either cry it out or leave the program. It is good to have a backup plan in case that happens if this is care you rely on.
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#28 of 33 Old 10-03-2010, 08:30 AM
 
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Moving to Working and Student Parents which focuses much more on day care/child care.

But cannot resist saying first, that the interventions the center is using are completely ungrounded in child development and attachment theory and are likely making the adjustment worse for your little one. It may be time to find a new arrangement.

 
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#29 of 33 Old 10-05-2010, 12:47 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Violet2 View Post
Oh. Hell. No.

The director has lost her mind if she thinks her approach is kind or even effective.

I would be livid. I AM livid on your behalf.

She's teaching your son that emotions are bad and deserve isolation. Teaching him that no one will help him when he is sad.

Horrific.

V
:
Exactly what I was thinking.
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#30 of 33 Old 10-05-2010, 11:39 PM
 
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oh my gosh....I am crying

lets review. He is 20 months old. A BABY!!! He has been in several daycare situations in the last 30 days. He had been at this one for 8. He liked his teacher but she left? He sounds lost and confused and now they are being cruel.

And I am a suck it up and stop crying kind of girl. but this is breaking my heart. he is just a little guy in a strange new world.

At least they told you what was up rather than just doing it.

I think removing him from the classroom seems appropriate so long as it is done with love and with someone there to help him (rather than scold and intimidate him). peace quiet and a little love could be exactly what he needs. and Crying is contagious in a classroom full of little ones. not to mention disruptive. Give the poor kid some privacy to work through his feelings. and a little calmness to adjust.

The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it.  We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.

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