6 TIPS TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN GIVING PARENTS BAD NEWS ABOUT THEIR CHILDREN'S DAY There are many types of bad news you may have to share with a parent at the end of the day.  Their child may have been injured, may have injured another child, had an accident, lost something he or she brought to daycare, not gotten his or her medication on time, or may have had behavioral problems.  Some of these issues may be one time events or you may be dealing with ongoing problems.  In any case, it is important that you are very careful as to how you discuss any bad news with parents. 

1.  Follow all procedures that are required by your employer and the state that licenses your program. 

If you are required to write up an accident report, inform the director, or follow some other procedure, make sure you do this first.  Then, when you inform the parent of what happened, you can assure them that you followed all required procedures and took appropriate actions.

2.  Don't leave a note for the parent. 

The last thing a parent wants at the end of the day when they come to pick up their child is a note detailing their child's bad behavior or some other negative news.  A written note often seems more negative than the writer intended.  In addition, the parent may be confused or upset and have questions regarding what happened.  If some kind of written report is required by the state or daycare, make sure you give the parent the written description, but also tell them verbally what occurred.  If you are not going to be present when the parent arrives, you have two options.  You can call the parent ahead of time or you can designate another staff member to talk to the parent.

3.  Share something positive with the parent. 

If you first share something positive with the parents, they may not respond as negatively to the bad news.  For example you could say, "William had a good morning.  He was a big help in picking up toys before lunch, but he did bite one of his friends this afternoon."  This approach will reassure the parents that you aren't focusing on all the negative things their child does, but you see their positive actions as well.

4.  Be willing to listen to the parent, but have a solution in mind. 

Listen to the parents' concerns and answer any questions they have regarding the issue.  After you have given the parents a chance to talk, share any solutions you have for the problem.  If you can arrive at a solution before the parents leave, they will likely feel better about bringing their child back the next day.  For example, if their child was bitten, you could say "we have talked with the parent of the child who bit Sarah and have come up with a plan to stop him from biting.  We've also decided to have one more staff member present during lunch time (the time of day when this child bites most often) to make sure Sarah is not bit again."

5.  If you have a difficult time communicating with the parent, involve the director or another staff member. 

Some parents will not be helpful in solving a problem or will be upset regardless of your efforts to find a solution.  If needed, involve the director or some other objective staff member and have them facilitate a discussion to move you toward a solution.

6.  Don't share negative news with staff members not involved in the situation or with parents of other children. 

If you share a child's negative behavior with all the staff at the child care center, the child may be labeled as a "bad kid."  You don't want staff dreading the day the child moves into their classroom or having a negative view of the child before he or she even comes in contact with other staff members.  In addition, this news could be overheard by parents, the child you are talking about, or other children.  Also, you should never share information about one child with the parents of other children.