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Dealing With Older Children in the Daycare Environment
by Gene Ballou
08/22/06
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Older children can be a great asset to your Child Daycare. They are smart and vivacious, and they love to help, play games and joke with adult care-givers. However, they are also bigger and smarter than your preschool children. They have comparatively twice the life experience of the younger children, and know more about how to manipulate people. So as a Child Care Provider, chances are you will eventually have to deal with older children who are aggressive, dishonest, or even violent. Here is a short list of tips that can help you face even the worst of situations!

1: Keep a Close Watch On Your Older Children
It's a fact that so much of safety, sanitation, and peace at Daycare can be accomplished by prevention through awareness. If we are constantly alert, watching carefully and staying close to potential problems, then much of what can happen, won’t happen. Children can be devious and perceptive, though, and even when we’re staying alert and watching closely, they will sometimes get away with things they shouldn’t. However, keeping a close watch will keep “mishaps” down to a minimum.

2: Be Fair and Consistent With Your Older Children
Children of any age or background will be more likely to respect and listen to someone who shows no favoritism in discipline or rewards. I personally have disciplined my school-age own son in front of the other children, just so they know that I don’t play favorites. I also believe in consistency in three areas: discipline, rewards, and honesty. I don’t change the rules without a very good reason. The children know when I walk in exactly what I expect of them. They also know what makes me happy, because I tell them every single day, “That makes me happy!” when they do something good or right. Last of all, but most important in my mind, they know without a doubt that I will do what I say I’ll do. If I say they are going in time-out if they do “that” again, then I will make sure they go in time-out; even if it interferes with something else I planned or needed to do. On the other hand, if I promise them a reward (such as a piece of candy for helping to clean up) then I will make sure, one way or another, that they get that reward. So they know they can trust me to keep my promises, both negative and positive.

3: Practice the “Golden Rule” With Your Older Children
This, to me, is the most important guideline of all when dealing with older children. Older children have a very strong sense of self, and a clear idea of what they like or don’t like as well as what they feel is appropriate. In this sense, they’re very much like most adults. So if you want them to respond positively, you should treat them as you’d like to be treated. Don’t talk down to them or treat them with contempt, and take time and effort to explain the rules to them, as far as what purpose they serve. “Because I said so” may work with the younger children, but not with the older ones. Actually, it never was good enough for me – and it won’t be good enough for them, either! Treat your older children with common courtesy, and expect the same from them. Mutual respect will go far in resolving difficulties before they occur.

It’s likely that anyone who follows these three rules will find older children much easier to deal with. If your older children know what to expect from you, if they can expect fairness and consistency, and if they get courtesy and consideration from you on a regular basis, then you will probably be their favorite Daycare Teacher, even when they get in trouble!


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