You probably saw this and thought you knew what I was going to be writing about today, didn’t you? Well, it is Friday and that means “Friday’s Focus on Families”. So, although I have a LOT of rules when it comes to family communication the “GOLDEN” rule is “Thou Must Never Speak About Children in Front of Children”. This is an absolute, unbreakable rule….
I can’t tell you how many times I am out in childcare homes or centers and I witness teachers telling parents what kind of day their child had, often when it was not such a good day. The teacher might say something like, “Johnny had a really hard time keeping his hands to himself today. Didn’t you Johnny?” and then they both look at mom (or dad or grandma) for a reaction of some sort. The teacher wants mom (or dad or grandma) to commiserate with her about her rough day with Johnny, and Johnny simply feels rotten and “in trouble” for something that probably happened three hours earlier.
If a child has a rough day, and it is rough enough that a conversation must take place, use your face to face time with mom (or dad or grandma) to make an appointment for a private conversation. Often, once the dust of the day has settled down, you will have a better handle on your own reactions. It will give you a moment to jot down some ideas about behavior and about a plan for working together. Speaking to parents in front of children really compromises your relationship with the child, with the parent and may even compromise the parent’s relationship with his/her child.
It goes without saying that we never talk about “somebody else’s” child with anybody.