Child-Care Provider Needs Patience

 JUDY LYDEN  Scripps Howard News Service  

Patience and understanding are the most distinctive attributes associated with good child-care providers.

Patience is a virtue; it is linked to an even greater virtue, temperance. Understanding is part of justice, which is also a virtue. These are the integrities which engineer the bridge between peoples called love.

Virtues don't materialize with a license to operate a day-care home or center. Nor are they part of a diploma necessary to teach. They can't be bought, be given away or even be assumed out of inordinate pride. Virtues such as patience and understanding are learned by practice, and that takes time.

When the selfishness of youth begins to disappear, patience and understanding ‹ like twin mustard seeds, insignificant at first ‹ begin to sprout. And, if nurtured, they will mature into magnificent trees with many branches which include justice,  temperance, prudence, fortitude, faith, hope, charity, wisdom and perseverance.

All of these are applicable to doing anything worthwhile, especially the care of children.

In a child-care setting, patience is a provider's profile; his most valuable tool is understanding. As a trait of personality, patience is not flighty, mean-spirited or liable to moments of provider hysteria. Instead, patience is the steady, even-keeled response to the children's constant needs.

Patience feeds off understanding of what and why children do what they do.

Understanding children means entering their world patiently. It means seeing the child's point of view with an adult mind. It means tempering the adult need to speed everything up or cast everything off. It means watching and letting the child "do" or listening to him "say" without becoming either awash in sentimentality or torqued with impatience.

 Without understanding, patience is half a virtue; it becomes  weak and indecisive. And patience does not doubt because doubting corrodes mature understanding wavering between truth and fiction and confusing illusion and reality. "I don't know" in a provider's mouth must become either "Yes, that's good" or "No, you may not ever do that; it's wrong."

And patience must never lend itself to permissive chaos; then she would have to change her name to Patsy. Rather, patience, in its finest form, is "steadfast," which means lovingly constant and consistent.

 Patience is always strong and resilient. It has to be when working with children, because patience ultimately means employing sense over non-sense:

 "I'm not going to let you do something wrong, Mary Jane. If every other child tried to tell me something untrue about his friend, I would still not let you. We don't tell tales."

Patience often belongs to heroes and not to cowards, because the cultivation of patience must sometimes cut into the rock stubbornness of children in chaos. Patience must sometimes stand against every prevailing wind of children's selfish whims. "You can cry if you like, but you will have to apologize to Ellen sooner or later."

Patience is a living thing. It grows and develops. It's achievable to anyone who has the interest and the love to understand children. But you won't find it on the bookshelf, in the mall on TV or on the radio. You will find patience in the heart.  

 (Judy Lyden is a licensed day-care provider. Write to her c/o The Evansville Courier, P.O. Box 268, Evansville, IN 47702, or e-mail her at jlyden@evansville.net.)

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