Has a client ever asked you to do something for their child that you’re not sure you’re capable of doing?
Typically, clients are not asking you to do something to make your life harder, but rather to fulfill a need they have for their child.
Here are a few sample requests made by parents:
- My baby prefers to be rocked to sleep.
- Let my daughter run naked from the waste down from potty training.
- I was wondering if you could open 30 minutes earlier every day.
- Use this diaper cream.
- I don’t want my child to nap during the day.
- Let my baby sleep in their car seat. He has acid reflux.
- Remember to give my 10-month old her taggie blankie when she’s in her crib.
When a client asks you if you’ll do something in particular for their child, you are not obligated to say “yes”.
In some cases, you simply cannot due to licensing regulations for your program.
I was the walking definition of a “People Pleaser” and it’s something to this day I continue to work on.
I am a ‘you betcha’ kind of gal.
Anything my clients asked of me, I’d find a way to make it happen. Even if it meant it was at the expense of my family time, my family’s space, or beyond my capacity.
I finally learned that there are other ways to keep my clients happy.
I had control over how I handled each request.
Remember. This is a partnership. You aren’t working for them, and they aren’t working for you.
The parent-provider relationship should be based on open communication.
First, establish what your non-negotiables are. What are the things that you have little control over and aren’t willing to or can’t bend on?
- Wellness/Illness Policy
- Picking up on time
- Paying in full on time
Your non-negotiables might be entirely different.
Instead of giving your client an answer immediately, try saying:
“That’s a great question. Let me get back to you.”
This short phrase will save your career.
This phrase allows you to think through the question that was presented and gives you time to craft a thoughtful response that is true to yourself, your program and the needs of your family.
Your reasons for not being able to meet their requests might include:
- Licensing restrictions
- The size of your crew and the ages of the kids
- You work alone and don’t have an assistant
- Varying schedules of your clients
- The layout of your home
- Your family’s schedule
Let’s review the list of examples posted above and ways to handle the situation:
- My baby prefers to be rocked to sleep. Depending on the number of kids in your group, this may be possible and it may not be. If you can’t always rock the baby until he/she falls asleep, make sure you are snuggling the baby as much as you can.
Babies need to be snuggled and rocked and soothed. If there’s not enough time in your day to give to that baby, one raw and really difficult question to ask yourself is if you need to consider scaling back on your enrollment numbers, but charge a bit more for infant care to close the gap in income.Talk with the client about how you can help their child transition into naps and if you aren’t able to rock him/her until they fall asleep explain why.Parents feel reassured when they are part of the solution.
- Let my daughter run naked from the waist down for the sake of potty training. Some parents like to research the best methods possible for their child and share those tips with you.
I’ve actually tried the naked-from-the-waist-down technique with my own kids and surprisingly enough, for us, it worked pretty well. However, to have one child running around your home pants-less isn’t conducive to the environment that includes other children in the space at the same time.Simply explain to the parent that you want their child to be successful with using the potty.At the same time, they need to wear pants when outside of the bathroom.Come up with a plan together on what’s happening at home and what’s happening in the child care in regards to potty training. Make a timeline and if the child isn’t progressing, press pause and revisit the topic in 8 weeks and try again.
- I was wondering if you could stay open 15 minutes later each day. This is a great question to give pause to. If you reflexively say ‘yes’ to please your client, you may end up regretting your decision a few weeks down the road.
Let your client know you need time to think about your end-of-the-day schedule and if that would require an extra fee and if so, how much? If you extend your schedule by 15 minutes, will this option be available to your other clients?
If you choose to decline this request, you can do so very objectively and state the reason why you need to keep your closing time as is.
- Please use this diaper cream. Such a simple request. If it’s a diaper creme that costs twice as much as the one you offer you can let them know that you are happy to provide “x” diaper cream at no charge but will be happy to store their preferred brand if they would like to provide it and it will only be used on their child.
- I don’t want my child to nap at your home. As kids age throughout your program, they may lose the need for a nap. It’s best to cover this topic during the interview and outline the expectations you have for Quiet Time in your program.I would highly recommend the book Sleepless In America by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka.
It may help you and your clients become better aligned on your ideals about sleep needs for children.
- Let my baby sleep in their car seat because they have reflux. This would be an example of a request that isn’t attainable due to safety concerns and licensing regulations. Educate your client on the reasons behind your decision to decline their request and formulate a plan; perhaps with the help of their pediatrician regarding other ways you can bring the baby relief.
- Remember to give my 10-month old her taggie blankie. Again, another example of a request you wouldn’t be able to fulfill. Communicating the sleep rules & regulations with your client during the interview is critical. Each parent has their own approach to what is best for their child, but as a licensed provider you are limited to what you can and cannot do when it comes to providing a safe sleep environment for each child.
At the core of it all, we must remember that parents and providers usually want to offer what is best for each child.
Both parties are working towards a common goal however there are umpteen different ways to get there.
Parents must be mindful of the limitations a provider may encounter when serving a group of young children. They must ask questions and seek to understand what a provider must do to run a successful program.
Providers must be aware that each parent only wants what is best for their child and want to know their child is comfortable and safe in your program each day. Knowing your own limitations is key to success.
The good news is, families have lots of options when it comes to finding care for their child. Some options, such as hiring a private nanny as a caregiver gives them a bit more jurisdiction over the elements of their child’s day.
Outlining these expectations and desires during the interview process is critical. Check out this Interview Guide to help you answer some really important questions up front that will allow you to lay out a beautiful foundation for the partnership ahead.