Date of this Version
Kostlelnik, M., Schroeder, D., Durden, T., Warner, M., Purcell, S., Krumbach, E., Hanna, J., Nelson, M., & DeFrain, J. (2010, May). Communicating with Families: Communicating with Families of Infants. NebGuide G2005. University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Families have many issues when it comes to child care and what's best for their child. Learning to communicate effectively with the families of infants in child care benefits the provider, the family and the child.
Families have many adjustments to make as they transition to parenthood. Parenting is a lonely endeavor sometimes. Often families rely more on outside child care, and with that comes the need, particularly for families of infants, to keep the communication lines open between themselves and their child care providers. A variety of techniques can be used to help families and child care providers communicate effectively.
Families of infants naturally are very anxious for their child and often express concerns about what may seem to the provider to be trivial issues, such as schedules and food. The demands actually reflect a deeper concern: that their child be safe, loved and attached to them, the family.
One danger in a child care setting is that a child care provider’s strong attachment to individual infants may interfere with his or her relationship with the child’s family. It is easy for the care provider to feel “I am better for this child than her family” or even “I care more than the family.” These are difficult feelings with which to deal. Still, child care providers must never forget that the relationship between family and child is crucial to the child’s welfare and development. A child care provider has a child for a very brief time compared with the family, who has the child forever. Also, the child has a life beyond child care; that’s a fact that infant child care providers must keep in mind.
Many families bringing their infants into child care settings are under some stress. For example, the mother who would prefer to stay home with her child but cannot or who has mixed feelings about whether to work or stay home will feel more relaxed as she becomes assured her child is in a good, safe place. Therefore, the provider should become not only her child’s friend but also her friend who cares about her as a person. Families who do not feel the caregiver is competing with them will not be afraid that their children will love the child care provider more than them. They will be more effective and better families because of their supportive child care arrangements.
Infants change so dramatically during the first three years. They go from actively observing the world around them as newborns to actively interacting in it as toddlers. This is a dramatic, rapid process. Families, particularly first-time families, need opportunities to understand and support this rapid developmental growth.
Because infants develop so quickly, share it as it happens. Families of infants benefit from seeing and sharing the little changes that indicate growth, not just the easily observable milestones like the child pulling itself up to stand or starting to walk. Informal written and verbal communication can fill this role.