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How could a childcare worker harm my child?

Erik Fisher
Psychology
Many of us have seen the nightmares of childcare workers abusing children, and this is a true tragedy that can have long-term impacts, but there are more subtle yet still long-term consequences that can occur when the people who care for and/or educate our children are passive-aggressively defying, manipulating, and/or disregarding rules that we have put in place.

From my years of experience I can tell you that there are many times that parents' behavior by itself can contribute to many behavioral and emotional problems of children, so I am not trying to let anyone off the hook. There are many other situations when there is a combination of parent and childcare issues, and some problems where it is only a childcare issue.

What are the types of problems am I talking about?
  1. Lack of reinforcement or inconsistent reinforcement of behaviors and limits. Whether it is not wanting to get dressed, comb their hair, take a nap, or more disruptive behaviors like aggression or disrespect, if a caregiver does not set limits and you do, this can lead to tantrums and limit-testing, resulting in your child having more consequences and frustration with you.
  2. Your caregiver yells at your kids. I, personally, am not a yeller and do not believe that one needs to yell to manage behavior. However, if your caregiver yells at your kids, and they don't feel that they can tell you, this can result in outbursts toward you and a feeling from your children that you are sending them into this threatening experience, decreasing trust and safety with you.
  3. Your caregiver competes with you for the love of your children. I love that the people who look after my child may love them dearly, but I also have seen situations where the caregiver made love a popularity contest. This can feel very confusing to your child and can be very damaging to your relationship.
  4. Sharing inappropriate information. Sometimes adults have very inappropriate boundaries with kids and they may talk about things that your kids should not hear or they talk about other people behind their back, even you. This type of indiscretion can result in your child not respecting you or other people, and can also contribute to a lack of boundaries on their part.
These are only a few of the issues that you may experience. If you feel that any or all of these issues are not significant, consider that your children may spend more time in a week with their caregivers than with you.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.