Rapidly Responding To Children In Your Care
The relationship between teachers and parents can become complex and emotional. On the one hand, the parents trust that the teacher will be the immediate supervisor of their child in school, outdoors, during naps, and so on. On the other hand, unintentional behaviors of children can be unpredictable and can get out of hand if not consistently responded to in a timely, calm, and empathetic manner - If not adequately controlled, a child's dissatisfaction can provoke adverse reactions from the caregiver and parent. Caregivers must respond rapidly to children in their care to avoid such potential conflict. Here, we discuss how to react quickly and effectively.
Quickly comfort infants in distress.
Outbursts of an infant can be sudden and unpredictable. Infants need comfort and reassurance. Such outbursts demand immediate attention and rapid response from the caregiver. First and foremost, two triggers may cause crying in infants: Sensory Overload and Behavioral Triggers. A sensory meltdown often results from having heightened senses of something, perhaps too much light or a hot environment.
On the other hand, behavioral triggers result from the child not wanting to comply with a particular action, environment, or verbal command. Perhaps there's a change in routine, or something has occurred that they never expected. Once the trigger is identified, the caregiver should be able to adapt and quickly comfort the infant. Sensory meltdown can be reduced by comforting the child, assuring them that they are safe, and changing their environment to support their needs. Behavioral triggers can be managed through empathizing with a child, understanding what they are going through, and acknowledging their feelings. The primary point here is to try to find out what upset the child and comfort them.
Listen to children with attention and respect.
It is essential to remember the value of any child's self-expression. They may be telling you something important or confidential about themselves, which an adult may take for granted. This is a crucial component to observe before redirecting the child's behavior or solving the child's problem. Maintain eye contact with the child and listen attentively. What is the child saying? Are they trying to tell you something? How are they feeling while saying it? Their body language? The school director can be a backup, but you can make the child feel heard and understood. How do you make them feel understood? Respond to children when they call your name; pay attention to their questions and requests.
Awareness of the entire group's activities, even when dealing with a smaller group.
Keeping awareness of the activities of the entire group is a critical priority. We recommend consistently observing and checking on all the children in your care. This routine aims to understand how the group dynamic affects each child. Perhaps a child is acting out due to feeling left out or overwhelmed by the group's energy. By being aware of these dynamics, you can respond quickly and effectively to help manage any potential behavioral triggers.
Singer, E., & Miltenburg, R. (1994). Quality in Child Day Care Centres: How to Promote It? A Study of Six Day-Care Centres. Early Child Development and Care, 102, 1-16. https://doi.org/10.1080/0300443941020101.
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