|Licensing Compliance in Discipline
The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice. ~ Peggy O’Mara
Getting to know a new group of children can sometimes be overwhelming-for them and for you. For many children, this transition brings about a wide array of emotions that can result in behaviors that are challenging to address. Identifying what a child is trying to communicate and how to meet their needs requires your patience and understanding. Regardless of your upbringing, your views on handling misbehaviors-or the parents’ techniques- or your past experiences, there are clear guidelines on what the expectations are of you when you or your colleagues deal with any child in the center.
Following are some line items from the CCLC Rules and Regulations, with tips or reminders in bold italics:
(1) Disciplinary actions used to correct a child's behavior, guidance techniques and any activities in which the children participate or observe at the Center shall not be detrimental to the physical or mental health of any child. “Detrimental to the physical or mental health” includes instilling fear, causing pain or discomfort either physically or emotionally, shaming, or belittling-just to name a few. Ultimately, if you are unable to show a child respect for his/her physical safety and mental well-being while you are handling them, you need to remove yourself from the situation. Letting another staff member handle the child appropriately and discussing acceptable methods to resolve a situation for the future will be necessary. Recognizing your own limitations and obtaining training in positive guidance helps you help your children while staying in compliance.
(2) Personnel shall not: physically or sexually abuse a child or engage or permit others to engage in sexually overt conduct in the presence of any child enrolled in the Center; inflict corporal/physical punishment upon a child; shake, jerk, pinch or handle a child roughly; verbally abuse or humiliate a child which includes, but is not limited to, the use of threats, profanity or belittling remarks about a child or his family; isolate a child in a dark room, closet or unsupervised area; use mechanical or physical restraints or devices to discipline children; use medication to discipline or control children's behavior without written medical authorization issued by a licensed professional and given with the parent's written consent; restrict unreasonably a child from going to the bathroom; punish toileting accidents; force-feed a child or withhold feeding a child regularly scheduled meals and/or snacks; force or withhold naps; allow children to discipline or humiliate other children; and confine a child for disciplinary purposes to a swing, highchair, infant carrier, walker or jumpseat. While the examples above might sound extreme to you, understand that unfortunately, they have happened (and may very well be happening somewhere even today) to a child who is entrusted to a teacher’s care; if they do not sound extreme to you, working with children may not be your calling. Parents may ask you to extend a punishment from home or use their technique in your classroom that may violate this rule; work with your administrators to handle (decline) such requests. Children will go through phases that will test your ability to handle a behavior - treat each child and their actions with respect, for your example to them will teach them how to treat themselves and others.
Ultimately, you and your co-teachers have a responsibility to keep children free from negative experiences while in your care. Remember that these guidelines apply to any adult interacting with a child in the center, even its parents. Work with your administration to understand how to handle a potential situation with a parent, and how to report incidents that may arise with any adult. Communicate with your co-teachers to step in for each other if one of you becomes overwhelmed with a situation, and help each other do what is right for each child!