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Employee's own children

  • 1.  Employee's own children

    Posted 01-20-2021 05:24 PM
    Im a director and I'm new to NAEYC. I have a staff member who's two children attend as part of her benefit pkg.  Mom is in the under 2's class but our little center is small so its easy for her older son to interact with her as well.
    The children transitioned really well into the environment in the beginning.  It has been about 18 months now and both of the kids have become extremely disruptive.  By disruptive i mean disruptive to everyone in the building.  These two young boys (age almost 2, and 5) lay on the floor and kick and scream if they don't get what they want.  For example lunch yesterday included fresh vegetables and ranch dressing-the older boy apparently didn't want ranch so he threw himself on the floor kicking his chair out of his way and started crying that he hates ranch.  We've attempted to accommodate minor issues to help Mom but this is getting out of hand.
    I hate to loose her (as we all know how hard it is to find great staff) but its affecting kids as well as other staff at this point.
    We've talked about parenting styles and ideas but its only getting worse.
    I feel like my only option is to let her go. Im hoping you all may have other suggestions.

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    Darcie Newbold
    Owner / Director
    Darcie's Learning Center
    Clearfield UT
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  • 2.  RE: Employee's own children

    Posted 01-21-2021 08:16 AM
    Hello Darcie,

    This is such a tremendous struggle. Losing great staff is always a fear and having that consistent turnover. I would be cautious to let her go as terms to her children's behavior as it is about her children and not her in her role as a teacher. It's important to see her as both a teacher and a parent. I recommend meeting with her and her children's teachers just as you would for any other child in the center to make a plan consistent with how you've held meetings for children of parents outside of staff. It may end up that the center is not a good fit for the children so you may find the opportunity to help find another school for her children to attend while not letting her go. She may choose to leave if her children go elsewhere but it is not a requirement based on her children's behaviors.

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    Heather Ha
    PPPIF Facilitator
    Program Manager
    CHI St. Joseph Children's Health
    Lancaster, PA
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  • 3.  RE: Employee's own children

    Posted 01-22-2021 02:18 PM
    Yes, you need to be very careful with this. You have not indicated that your employee (mom) is doing anything wrong with her job.  You would terminate the children and then would most likely make the decision to leave as well.  I am sure she will be hurt more than anything that you do not want her children there but it does happen.  I have been in your shoes before.

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    Brandy Sroga-Coons
    Creative Kids Academy
    Elk River MN
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  • 4.  RE: Employee's own children

    Posted 01-22-2021 03:52 PM

    Hi, Darcie:

    I am sure that this is also deeply upsetting to the mother, as well. It's usually so embarrassing to see our children behave badly. I remember when my own children were small and I was teaching in the preschool where they attended, that my oldest son told me that he didn't like for me to be the teacher, he just wanted me to be the mom. The children could be struggling with having to share their mother. Do the tantrums typically occur when they see her? If so, then you may have to adjust the schedule or the environment a bit so that they don't have interaction with her. It might also be helpful to have the older child to take ownership of his behavior by talking with him at a time when he is not acting out. He is old enough to start having conversations about how his behavior affects the other people around him.

    I am sure that the example you gave at lunch time was just one example and that there are others. Usually with children who are acting out, I would do some type of reward system using a behavior chart. It is a concrete way for the child and his teacher to see his goals and to work toward an activity that is intrinsically rewarding. For example, if the goal is "Remain seated during lunch time," he could earn a star or sticker at each lunch that he accomplishes the goal. When he has earned 5 stars/stickers, he can have 10 minutes at the end of the day on Friday to play with a preferred toy. You have to be careful with this, though, because it should be a private thing and you wouldn't want to create tension with the other children. You also don't want his behavior to become dependent on rewards. Encouraging him to take pride in his own accomplishments would be the goal, eventually, but rewards are so valuable for young children because they are concrete.

    I hope that these ideas help and wish you good luck with your situation.



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    Jennifer Cottle
    Graduate Teaching Assistant
    Texas Woman's University
    The Colony TX
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  • 5.  RE: Employee's own children

    Posted 01-24-2021 11:48 AM
    My daughter was in my preschool class as a 4 year old - she is 37 now so this was some time ago. 😉 Our experience had challenges and rewards, and it led me to research this experience for my doctoral dissertation in the 1990s. The 'teachers called mommy' who I interviewed reported some common themes. First, they needed a supportive partner at home because this is a difficult experience. Next, they needed supportive colleagues both in the classroom and in the administration. And they needed help reminding everyone that they had a dual role with their children. Some teachers reported having a code system with their colleagues as to when the colleague should take over or when they wanted to handle the situation. Others had a consistent plan -such as coteacher always takes care of the classroom discipline. But these plans need to be negotiated with all the adult players involved because there definitely can be an impact. Another consideration is the reaction of other parents, but you aren't mentioning that here.

    The child also needs support - yes, teacher is your mom, but right now she needs to be teacher. With my daughter, she had first dibs at circle to sit next to me, just as any child would be able to sit with their parent who was visiting. We just explained it that way to the other children. And sometimes mom needs to be mom. There were teacher moms who said they preferred to handle their child, and others who felt someone else should do it. Most of us were harder on our own kids than others would be because we wanted them to behave, as a reflection on our parenting. As you know, most parents feel judged by others when their child acts up in public.

    Children at the ages you are talking about don't share their special toys well, so why should we expect them to share their mom, the most special thing they have? One teacher mom, working with toddlers, shared that her daughter would pull the leg of a child her mom was comforting, saying  my mommy, my mommy! The younger the child, the harder because they don't wait for gratification easily. The child has a dual role, too, child and student, and probably doesn't have the cognitive capacity to understand that fully or to determine which set of behaviors are needed. It is very confusing for them. Think about open house and who manages child mistaken behavior. Children and parents can struggle with lines of authority and expectations. Clarifying the expectations can go a long way. And patience with what is developmentally confusing.

    What would you do with these tantrums if mom wasn't in the space? This probably needs to be discussed with all the staff in a problem solving manner, not just for crisis management. Involve the older child in naming what the issues are for them. Would a hug and kiss before lunch help? Does mom feel ineffective? Would she appreciate help or does she feel that she isn't being able to deal with her child because of the situation of everyone watching?

    There is do so much more that I could say, but I will end with saying that each case is unique and while I can offer some patterns to the responses, I can't offer a one size fits all solution. I would be happy to continue the conversation if you want.
    Good luck.
    Dottie Bauer
    EC professor emerita from NH

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    Dottie Bauer
    Professor emerita
    Keene State College
    Antrim NH
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