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Children sit next to each other on a classroom carpet. One child has her hand extended, thumb raised.


Paulette Maggiacomo

Paulette Maggiacomo

August 27, 2020

Relationships, Connections, School Family, and Community are the common threads that weave throughout the Transform Challenging Behavior Virtual Conference 2020. A successful childcare site needs to be built on these foundations in order to flourish. Having a positive relationship with a child’s family was the basis of Luis Hernandez’s presentation How to Collaborate with Families When There’s Challenging Behavior.

What can we do to build successful relationships with families?

  • This relationship begins before we even meet the family. When they call to inquire about our site, how do we speak with them? Are we upbeat, positive, and make it clear that we are happy they called? Or are we in a hurry and just give them the standard line?

  • When we meet them for the first time, do we greet them with a smile and does our body language reflect that smile? Are we truly present as we take them on a tour and listen to their questions and concerns?

  • At the beginning of the school year, do we state our expectations and ground rules clearly? Research has shown that adults need to hear the information presented to them seven times in order to fully integrate – here is where hard copy, email, text, phone call, and face to face conversations come into play. I have heard from more than one director/teacher that texts seem to work best due to the fact that parents check their phone frequently.

  • At the beginning of the year, do we discuss Developmentally Appropriate Behavior and how it is incorporated into our classrooms, observations, and social/emotional learning?

Building any relationship takes trust which takes time to develop. Families are entrusting us to value their child. Luis said that when he asked parents what they wanted for their child, the overwhelming response was “I want my child to be safe, happy, and to make friends”. It is up to us to make that a reality.

So what happens when we have to have those difficult conversations with parents? If a relationship is there it can be so much easier. Luis talked about the “Sandwich Approach”. When using this approach you:

  • Start with a positive comment

  • Move on to the behavior that needs to be acknowledged

  • End with a positive comment

I have seen so many of you do this, now we know the professional name for it.

Luis hones in on the fact that as Early Childhood Educators, it is our professional duty to be lifelong learners, we must keep up with new information in the field if we are to advocate for our children. Think of it this way – would you bring your car to a mechanic that was not up to date with the latest technological advances in the automotive field?

As we have learned in the past few months, there is so much virtual learning being presented, so many leaders in our profession are offering free materials, and insights on their websites. Think of FLAEYC and NAEYC when looking for professional journals. If we are to support our children and their families, we must know the latest information in issues such as trauma, sensory integration, implicit biases, gender equity, and much more.

If you have taken the time to build a relationship with your families and if you continue to be a lifelong learner, it will be so beneficial when you have to have those difficult conversations with parents about their child needing special services. If you have documented observations and used the “Sandwich Approach” it will be so much easier for parents to believe and trust that you truly are a collaborative team and that you are there to support them.

Be that person who builds a relationship on trust, honesty, communication, and connection.

Be that person who makes the parent feel as if they and their child are welcomed and loved.

Be that person.

A family with young children sit in front of a desk.
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