Day Care: Is your child going home to an encouraging zone?

By JUDY LYDEN, Scripps Howard News Service

Going home after a full day of care is an important part if often an overlooked one of a youngster's child-care day. Most children look forward to going home; they have played with everything and everyone and now it's time for Mommy and Daddy.

For most children, going home presents no problem. A parent routinely comes at a time a child can set his body watch by, most often with a smile and a happy word for the child. The children tend to be well-behaved, good-natured and disappear out the door with little fanfare.

There are, however, the problem parents who show up at the last minute with a face that reflects stress and strain. They often grab the child without so much as a hello and literally pull the poor thing out the door. These children often yell, scream, complain and slam doors on their way out.

For those children and their parents, the home part of the day seems to be a nightmare each has come to dread. This is evident when children remain longer and longer hours; both the child and their parent are having trouble "transitioning."

When work offers more good words than home, the transition from the busy workplace to the quiet home place becomes a real downer. When the home fails to be a compliment zone, a help zone, a productive and joyful place, it becomes the zero zone. If encouraging words and special demonstrations of appreciation lacked on the job site, you can bet a thinking adult would find a new job. Finding a new family is not an option. Neither is dragging a child out of a happy place into a depressing one.

If that sort of daily nightmare has become a reality, it's time to make some changes.

Teaching is the primary job of good parents. Teaching means careful and thoughtful communication among adults. Pick your time. Choose your words.

Set the family table rather than have a meal served on the fly before a television set. Before dinner is served, while plates are still empty, sit down and discuss how changes can be made. The ideas for improvements should include the child and his best interests.

Perhaps change includes a regular family night out, a redistribution of chores or an earlier bedtime for the children. Whatever it takes, keep negative words such as "can't" and "won't" out of the conversation. Put frowns, pointed fingers and accusations away, too.

Remember, it's a possibility this is a night when changes make the difference between going home to the encouraging zone or the zero zone.

(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 to jlyden@evansville.net.

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