Building Positive Relationships through Communication
A strong connection between families and child care providers is essential for building a positive
environment for young children. But too often, parents and program staff do not effectively
communicate with each other, thereby limiting opportunities for developing open, respectful, and
trusting relationships. Miscommunication, or limited communication between adults, can lead to
situations that adversely affect all of the parties involved. Following are some tips for families and
child care professionals on how to build win/win relationships.
The Familyís Role
- Talk with the people who care for your child on a daily basis about eating habits, behavior,
activities, learning of new skills, friends, or other "happenings" in your childís day.
- Develop good two-way communication about your goals for your child, your childrearing practices,
and family preferences in order to minimize conflicts and confusion for children.
- If you are troubled by something that may have occurred at the program, discuss it with your
childís teacher or caregiver at an appropriate time and setting. Open, respectful communication
often clarifies a situation before it becomes a problem.
- Families of young children should view themselves as promoters of quality child care. If you
feel the quality has changed, or is being compromised, talk with the provider or center director.
- If possible, actively participate in your childís program. For example, you can volunteer to
make toys, games or food; attend parentsí meetings; visit for lunch; go along on field trips; help
in the classroom; or serve on the Board of Directors or Parents Advisory Committee.
- Strengthen the bond between your child and her caregiver by helping to establish an attitude
of trust. Mention the caregiverís name in conversation at home, and show interest in your childís
interactions with her/him.
- Let your child care provider know you appreciate his/her efforts.
The Child Care Professionalís Role
- Itís important for child care providers to gain knowledge about each individual child in
their program. One way to learn about the individual personalities of young children is by
observing the interactions between children and their families. For example, what are the
good-bye rituals, or what do the parents do to comfort their child? The younger the child,
the more necessary it is for professionals to acquire this knowledge through relationships
with her family.
- Be attentive and open to negotiation if a parent brings a concern or complaint to your
attention. Keep in mind that assertive communication--when you tell the truth and care about the
listener--is the most effective form of communication.
- Be sensitive to each childís cultural and family experience. Reflect the diversity of these
experiences in the toys, books, decorations, and activities you choose in creating your learning
- Some families may be new to the area or unaware of resources in the community. Early
childhood programs can be a community link by acquiring, and making available, information on
a range of community resources, including hospital, health clinic, and local library programs,
school and community education offerings, and family support services.
- Make time for communication. Pick-up and drop-off times are often hurried occasions, however
valuable information can be exchanged through these daily informal meetings. By simply asking
how the family is doing in a non-intrusive way, adults can share information that may help the
child care professional better understand a childís behavior on any given day. For example, a
child may be sad if a family member is on a business trip or if someone is ill. What may seem
trivial to adults can be very important to young children.
- Make your program a caring community of learners and include childrenís families in that
community. Ask for their input on ways to build a better "community."
Children benefit most from healthy, reciprocal relationships between teachers and families.
Like most relationships, these require time to nurture mutual respect, cooperation, and comfortable