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Stress and abuse in childcare facilities

Stress and abuse in childcare facilities - blog image

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time for the country to focus on doing everything possible to keep children safe. While a vast majority of children who attend childcare facilities are thriving, unfortunately, there are news stories that come up regularly about children being abused by a childcare provider. Most often this abuse happens when a provider is overwhelmed or very stressed.

No childcare provider wakes up and decides that this is the day they're going to hurt a child. And no child deserves being hurt by his or her caregiver no matter how much they misbehave. So why does this continue to happen?

Let’s face it, working in childcare is exceptionally stressful. Being a childcare provider is a tough job that requires an unimaginable amount of patience. Childcare providers are human and have bad days just like everyone else. Unfortunately, their bad days sometimes have bigger consequences. One impatient moment can leave a child with an injury and a teacher without a job.

So, what can a childcare administrator do to keep kids safe? And what can parents look for? While centers must have a rigorous hiring process that includes background checks and references, this won’t catch someone who’s perfectly qualified and just has a stressful day.

Creating a supportive culture in childcare

What does a supportive culture look like at a childcare center?

Teachers are trained on how to handle their stress and how to manage a classroom.

It doesn’t do any good to pretend that only bad teachers get frustrated. Very good and experienced teachers aren’t immune to stress. Administrators acknowledge this and give teachers the skills to cope. Teachers learn techniques to manage their classroom in a positive way.

Teachers get regular breaks throughout the day.

Breaks away from the kids and not in the classroom are important. Naptime isn’t usually a break for teachers, especially if some of the kids don’t sleep. Getting out of the classroom to breathe and regroup is essential.

Teachers are encouraged to ask for help.

Sometimes the only way to calm down is to leave the situation, but a teacher often can’t leave the room without a replacement. Administrators are available to give a teacher an unscheduled break if they need it and don’t make the teacher feel bad about it.

Teachers are looking out for each other.

If a teacher notices a coworker getting frustrated, they aren’t afraid to step in and help or call someone to give that coworker a break. This is done to keep the kids and coworker safe, not to get anyone in trouble.

Administrators or extra staff are available during stressful situations in the classroom.

Often, transitions (e.g., getting ready to go outside, transitioning from lunch to nap, etc.) are the most challenging times. In addition to providing teachers with training on how to make transitions smoother, just having an extra set of hands can make a huge difference.

These are all things parents can look for at their child’s center. Are teachers getting breaks? Do administrators spend time in the classrooms? Do classrooms seem to run smoothly with a good routine? Childcare centers with a supportive culture will be a place where teachers like coming to work because they feel confident in their abilities. This in turn will allow them to help children grow and learn safely.

Topics: Childcare



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