You wouldn’t think it needed to be said, but it’s clear that it does. If you’re planning to become a daycare provider, you should actually like children. With all the opportunities available for earning a living, this is not one that you should enter just because you can. The same way you wouldn’t expect a nurse to be bothered by sick people is the same way we’d expect a daycare provider to not be bothered around children. Kids are sensitive and are aware when people don’t like them. As a parent, I don’t want you to watch my children if you actually don’t want to care for them. Do us all a favor and find something that you’d rather do. If you want to be a caretaker but prefer adults, go into that field. If you prefer animals over people, go into that field. Don’t punish children by having them in your facility when the idea grates your nerves. Children don’t need to be exposed to that kind of animosity.
By nature, people want to be loved and accepted. Children need to be in an environment in which they are comfortable, nurtured, and wanted. Personalities, identities, actions, and so much are shaped and developed in these early years. Children are exploring and learning how they fit in the world. Think about how you feel when you look in someone’s direction, and that person looks at you with contempt or disgust. It feels pretty horrible! Now think about how a child feels when he looks up at someone at least three feet taller than he is that is continually frowning, complaining, or shooing him away when he needs a hug. Who does that child turn to while in care if his caretaker doesn’t even want to be bothered with him? By not interacting with him or displaying your irritation at his presence, you send him messages that he’s unwanted, unloved, and in your way. Now think about what happens when people believe no one wants them around, that their absence will be appreciated more than their presence, or that they’re good for nothing. Now think about what happens when people decide that since no one cares about them, they don’t have to care about other people including what they take, what they destroy, or who they hurt in the process.
Nobody’s asking you to turn your life upside-down, but we do expect you to put forth a good faith effort to “care” when you open your home to other people. Understand that parents are entrusting the children for which they would do anything in your care because we must work or must go somewhere that would not be suitable for children (ex. a 9-hour conference). This is dayCARE. By definition, you should have concern for and desire to protect and keep watch over the children in your home. People are counting on you to do what you said you’d do. Imagine how you’d feel if your child was in this environment. Imagine how you’d feel if you were subjected to this attitude.
You should want to do more than “just keep them alive until the parents return.” If you’re unsure that this is your calling, it’s okay to step back and delay opening. Ask another provider if you can sit with her during a day or so to get an inside view of what an actually day is like. If you’re burned out, take time off and return when you’re refreshed. Step back to evaluate why you are experiencing these feelings. Are you upset with the parent and projecting that anger onto the child? Are you upset about something in your personal life and lashing out? Getting to the root of the problem will help you in both your personal and professional life. Just be mindful that you don’t accidentally penalize a child in the process of working out personal problems. Children don’t understand and take things personally. We must be careful to help guard their emotions the same way we guard them physically. We child-proof our homes to minimize injuries, and we should want to have the same consideration for their feelings.