Monthly Archives: January 2014

S 316… The forced unionization of child care providers

Hot topic right now for all of us in Vermont and across the country. There is a group that thinks we (child care providers) need a voice at the government level. They say their goal is to increase wages. They just can’t do that. In fact, if we are required to pay dues, many of us will be forced to shut down. We are not in this for the money, and we work long hours. Please don’t try to force a union.

The other issue, in my opinion anyway, is the fact that the “voice” we are being promised has no clue what to say. Lobbyists and politicians have no idea what we do and how we do it. They do not know what to ask for. We don’t want you to increase the subsidy rate for our sake, yes it helps families, but not us. We want our profession to be recognized as just that, a profession. We want folks to know why we need vacation days and mental health days. We want to communicate to folks why we need so much training and what kind we need. We want you all to know why children playing in the dirt is a good thing. We want you to know that we are taking the very best care of your children, and while it is not a lucrative business, it is the most important and rewarding career possible.

There are many issues pertaining to this union argument, but the bottom line is that we don’t need a union forced upon us. Let us speak for ourselves. More to the point, ask us what we think.

www.vtchildcareindependence.com

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Twins

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So I’m a twin and I must say that it has been quite a journey. I have a fraternal sister who is four minutes older than me. We look like sisters, not necessarily just alike. And yet all through school, especially the early years, we were treated in a way that I found stifling. We were compared to each other by teachers, relatives, and peers. It appeared that my sister was the confident and outspoken one, while I presented myself as more of a people pleaser. I tried not to rock the boat, and just go with the flow.

Now I’m sure, in fact I know, that my sister perceived this experience differently. Of course she did, but the one thing we can agree on was how good it felt to go to college and start fresh. It wasn’t so bad having a twin, it just felt like I couldn’t be myself, I was always half of a pair. All of my actions were interpreted through the lens of being a twin. “Your sister is playing band, why aren’t you?” Or “I see you changed your hair, is that so you won’t look so much like your sister?”

So parents and family members, encourage your children, twins especially, to be their own person. My sister and I have a complicated relationship despite the notion that twins are supposed to “have a connection”. Just because we are supposed to, doesn’t mean it will happen. I feel like I know who I am, and I feel good about that. I hope that my sister knows that I am a safe place for her, I think she does, and that I know that we share something no one else can understand. I am grateful that she is in my life. I’d like to think that we could’ve been closer had I not felt the push from all around.

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Pacifiers…

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A pacifier serves a purpose, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a consensus among parents as to what that could be. Let me help you, infants are born with a natural need to suck. It’s how they learn to self-soothe, and it’s what allows them to nurse right away. A pacifier helps to meet this need.

A pacifier is a useful item in the beginning when infants are still learning to calm themselves. As they get a little older, 6 months or so, they begin to self-soothe in other ways. Guess what? The infant won’t need the pacifier as much. Take advantage of the opportunity to step back from pacifier reliance.

Slowly limit use to difficult transition times only, like bedtime. Also, stop bringing pacifiers out and about with you anymore. Tell your child it’s just for bedtime, and if they forget about it, that’s ok.

Depending on your child’s temperament, I would recommend removing all pacifiers from your child’s life by 18 months. At this point, they just don’t need it.

I know this sounds harsh, but the sooner the better in my experience. Speech, teeth, and self-regulation are all affected by the use (and overuse) of a pacifier at this point. Infants and toddlers also learn social cues by mimicking expressions of others. They can’t do that if they’re “plugged in”.

So prepare for a couple of grumpy nights, maybe more depending on your child, and toss out those pacifiers. You’ll be surprised how quickly your toddler gets over it, and you’ll be grateful not to be the parent of the 5 year old who is still using one!

*please keep in mind there are exceptions to every “rule”*

Developmental age and chronological age are not always in sync, and some children are under more stress than others. Use your judgement and help meet the needs (not necessarily wants) of your child in your own way.

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Toilet Learning, aka Potty Training

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This is a hot topic for so many of you, and there’s so much advice out there…I don’t want to overwhelm anyone so I’ll keep it simple: Toilet learning is a natural process in which young children need to take the lead.

I’ve spent the majority of my career (15 years or so), working with two and three year olds. That’s a lot of diaper to pull-up to underwear transitions. I’ve learned that it is a child-driven process, that is only successful when children are truly ready.

Children who are “trained” (I really don’t like this word when talking about toilet use) early, 18 months or so, will regress and have frequent accidents. How do I know this? Seen it. Consistently. Toddlers will learn to hold their urine, and it will appear that they are potty trained. But after a few months, there will be frequent accidents. The walls of the bladder thicken, just like a bicep that’s been doing lots of curls . When it comes to your bladder, thicker is not better. Holding bowel movements is an issue too, leading to constipation and extra pressure on the bladder, among other problems.

So then there are the well-meaning parents who tell care providers that if they put little Johnny on the potty every 30 minutes, he won’t wet his underwear. First of all, does little Johnny want to spend his whole day in the bathroom? No, and logistically, a care provider just can’t do it. And then there’s the pressure he puts himself under, leading to anxiety and insecurity, and the disappointment he’ll feel when he wets his pants. Trust me, he will. No thank you.

The children I’ve seen have a positive and self-driven toilet learning experience have shown basic signs first. When they are ready, you’ll know. It won’t be a battle or power struggle. It’ll be a positive experience for everyone ultimately, leading to feelings of competence and success.

Signs:
The child shows an interest, either by modeling your behavior or talking about it.

Your child tells you when diaper is soiled, or recognizes when he/she is going.

Dry diapers over a 2 hour period or after nap.

A child has skills that will support toilet learning such as walk, talk, and pull up pants(try anyway).

Suggestions:
Encourage the use of a real toilet when interested…it’ll be so much easier when you are at the grocery store with a child who has to pee.

When you begin to see signs, ask if your child would like to use the toilet.

Expect interest to ebb and flow for a bit…it’s scary to learn a new skill. Also be aware that transitions in a child’s life (new baby, different routines, moving to new house) will affect this process greatly, often resulting in regression or holding. Just be patient.

Use the actual words for body parts (this will be important later on)

Avoid anger at accidents, use a matter of fact tone and let it go. Also avoid treats and rewards-no one gives me candy for using the toilet. Your child needs to internalize the feelings associated with accomplishment, which is less likely when a reward is used.

There may be the rare exceptions out there, but trust me, rare is the exception. Good luck! I hope this is helpful, especially since I said I’d keep it simple, and I really didn’t!

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