Hello there, my team and I are currently researching strategies and ideas on what the teacher's role is when a child suddenly throws a tantrum when their parent arrives to pick them up from centre. You know the typical scenario, the child has been well behaved all today, perfectly fine, but suddenly their parent arrives and they throw a major tantrum (sometimes if their parent has warned them on what is about to happen next in their routine).
As teachers we feel placed in a difficult position, as we don't want to undermine the parents parenting skills by stepping in, yet we don't want to look like we aren't being supportive or working in partnership with them either, and we know that the parents might not be using the same strategy they would at home, as they feel they are being watched or judged by others.
So just wondering what your guys thoughts and ideas and any strategies you currently use within your team, would greatly be appreciated.
What I do is reassure the parents that this reaction is very common and it happens to many parents. I tell them that all people including adults often behave their worst with people they love the most. Intervening can be tricky once ther parents are in the mix. I think the success depends on the relationships between everyone. Children I think can sense uncertainty and use it to their advantage
Supporting parents through challenging times with their children can be tricky and there are many variables at play. It is difficult to give really solid advice with out knowing more about the scenario. For example I wonder how old the child is, how well you know the parent/whanau, is this a common reaction for the child, what else has been happening for him/her during the day or leading up to this situation? As you will understand out bursts can be bought on by many triggers and being clear about the bigger picture is vital in making decisions about next steps.
I see that there are 3 issues at the fore in this question
1. How do teachers respond in supportive and encouraging ways to the parent at the time of the incident?
2. What strategies might be best for teachers to use with the child?
3. How can we build partnership with the parent to to enhance consistency and support the child's social competence learning?
Lets consider these one at a time
Firstly, how do teachers respond in supportive and encouraging ways to the parent at the time of the incident?
As suggested in the previous response post, it can be really helpful to acknowledge with the parent that this is not uncommon behaviour, even though it can be hard to handle. You could also consider asking the parent if they would like you to help/intervene as the parent may in fact be really grateful to have you step in. If they want support apply the strategies aligned with your centre Positive Guidance policy and procedure.
Secondly, what strategies might be best for teachers to use with the child?
Again there are many factors that will impact on how you work with this child, parent and scenario. For example your centre philosophy, pedagogy and beliefs about social competence and 'behaviour management' (I prefer not to use this term myself). You will have a Positive Guidance Policy and as stated above your first advice will be based in this document. If you find it gives little practical guidance I suggest you do some added research and consideration of pedagogy together as a team (and perhaps review the guidance policy as part of a spontaneous review). I advocate considering what is at the heart of the situation and behaviour from the child's perspective and look for ways to support their social learning through experiences in the curriculum rather than specifically focusing on 'behaviour management' as such. I recommend reading Porter, L., (2008, 2003, 1999) Young children’s behaviour: Practical approaches for caregivers and teachers. (3rd ed.) Sydney: Elsevier / Baltimore, MD: Brookes. or Porter, L. (2010). A guidance approach to discipline: Practitioner Workbook. Brisbane: Small Poppies International. Both of these resources provide very suitable advice for teachers and parents and can be purchased online from http://www.louiseporter.com.au/ .
Finally, How can we build partnership with the parent to to enhance consistency and support the child's social competence learning?
To me this seems like a great chance to build on your relationship with the parent and support his or her growing confidence and insight as a parent. I don't suggest trying to engage in that conversation at the time of the 'tantrum' but perhaps consider opening a discussion the next time they are in the centre. You could start by acknowledging the challenge for them and ask if they are keen to partner with you in learning more and working together to support the child through this tough time. A shared game plan can often quickly reduce the challenge and simply being in it together can be very supportive for the parent (and for the team). This can provide opportunities to share information, develop shared strategies and approaches and the ability to meet the child's needs collaboratively. I hope this is helpful.