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  #1  
Old 05-28-2013, 07:26 AM
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Default Please Help Me Understand Difference Between Backbone And Passive Aggressive

Happy Tuesday!!

I have been trying to decipher the difference between "backbone" and "passive aggressive". I know it sounds silly, but every time I use my "backbone" I get accused of being "passive aggressive".

In the last year or so I have lost a couple of DCF's because I used my backbone. One of the DCF's kept arriving earlier than contracted time and I kept telling them that I didn't mind opening early for them- they just needed to let me know ahead of time. At that time I didn't even mind if they sent me a text when they were on their way. They pulled their kid and accused me of being passive aggressive and belittled my entire business. What? I simply put my foot down and enforced policy and look where it got me. Funny thing is I opened the door to them and was willing to keep their child but DCD threw a tantrum and pulled his kid immediately.

Recently, I had a young DCM that accused me of being passive aggressive because I stopped holding her hand through the daycare process. I would have to remind her via text that payment was due every Monday along with many other issues. I stayed open for her until midnight and cared for her child for over 3 years. She just terminated care and gave me no reason. I asked and she told me what a horrible person I am. What? Because I stopped holding your hand?

Ok so in order for me to heal and move on I need fix any possible "issues" I may have. I have always thought I run a great business but as I reflect on the past I need to know what I could be doing wrong.

I love to read the stories of how other providers have used their backbone and said no to requests or turned away DCF's at the door because of sickness or non-payment. I think its awesome, but I can't help but think that if I would do some of these things that I wouldn't have any DCFs.

So many times I would love to throw away the graham cracker breakfast the child brings in with him. Hand the toy back to the parent that the the DCK brings in. Tell the DCM no I cannot keep Junior past closing time bc my family has plans. But I know the DCP will think geeze what a bleep- its only a cracker, toy, or an extra 30 minutes. So I just suck it up and let it happen (I guess that's where the PA kicks in) and then when something does happen and I have to address it- all heck breaks loose.

Sorry for the long post. I am just trying to make myself a better provider and I am reaching out to all of you seasoned providers to help me.
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Old 05-28-2013, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by wahmof3 View Post
So many times I would love to throw away the graham cracker breakfast the child brings in with him. Hand the toy back to the parent that the the DCK brings in. Tell the DCM no I cannot keep Junior past closing time bc my family has plans. But I know the DCP will think geeze what a bleep- its only a cracker, toy, or an extra 30 minutes. So I just suck it up and let it happen (I guess that's where the PA kicks in) and then when something does happen and I have to address it- all heck breaks loose.

Sorry for the long post. I am just trying to make myself a better provider and I am reaching out to all of you seasoned providers to help me.
This is not being passive aggressive-this is enforcing policy and there is nothing wrong with being consistent with what you ask for in your contract.

Passive aggressive is locking your door when a family is running late for drop-off and pretending not to be home.

Backbone is realizing it is OK not to accept someone's child late-the way to do that is to meet them at the door and remind them that your contract states that kids can't be dropped off more than XXX minutes after the contracted time, and telling them to their face that you won't be accepting their child.

We DO need to be flexible where possible. When it is something important to us or our business, then we need to be very clear about it. At my interviews, I walk through my contract step by step with a parent. For the things that parents fight about, I have bolded "I understand that I will be paying the same rate weekly whether my child attends or not and that price will not change for ANY reason" and make them sign it. There are 10 spots on my contract where they have to sign to agree with my policy (and they also address outside food and outside toys).

Last edited by Blackcat31; 05-28-2013 at 07:52 AM.
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Old 05-28-2013, 07:45 AM
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Originally Posted by wahmof3 View Post
I love to read the stories of how other providers have used their backbone and said no to requests or turned away DCF's at the door because of sickness or non-payment. I think its awesome, but I can't help but think that if I would do some of these things that I wouldn't have any DCFs.
I think your biggest issue is allowing someone to do something until it bothers you and then you put a stop to it. I personally would set the mood for your rules and policies IMMEDIATELY upon the interview so they know up front that the "little cracker" IS a big deal. (and why)

THAT is what sets you up for being called passive aggressive

Explain to families during the interview that you don't allow certain behaviors and then don't allow them. Don't waive them, don't over look them and certainly don't give anyone a "Well just this one time" kind of pass....

Cover your issues or problem areas (food brought in, late payments etc) during the interview and explain why you have the rules/policies you do BEFORE the issue happens.

When you do clean up AFTER an issue happens, it seems parents get the most upset.

I know you think that if you are a hard a$$ from the get-go that you won't have any families but I will tell you a little secret;

People WANT rules, guidelines and boundaries.....just like kids need and want them. Human nature pre-programs us to have free will but I still think the general population wants to have some sort of rules or guildlines to live by.

Just like kids it makes us feel safer and helps us know our behavior is acceptable.

Honestly, if I hadn't seen it myself with my own two eyes, (and business) I would not believe it either, but the more professional you are and the more clear cut your rules are, the more families WILL respect you.

It's kind of like being a teen. You want to do all these things you can't do and can't wait to be an adult. Then you get to be an adult and being able to be in charge and make the rules doesn't seem so much fun anymore.

When you take charge and be a strong leader, people follow. They just do. I have parents ask me if they can get a free pass on my rules/policies periodically because life does happen. Sometimes I let them but it is VERY rare and I make darn sure that they know it is a ONE TIME thing and not something I will allow on a regular basis.


I am not sure I explained that well but hopefully it makes sense.
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Old 05-28-2013, 07:48 AM
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Backbone to me is being firm on your rules. You write them down and enforce them. No if ands or butts. Done.

Passive aggressive is more something like ...
“Typically, the people at my son’s day care just tell me when he’s running low on diapers or they write a note on his daily progress report. Sometimes I forget and they have to keep sending notes. Last time I forgot, and he had to use a few of another childs and they wrote NEEDS DIAPERS on the front of one he came home in. I guess this was his teacher’s passive-aggressive way of ensuring that I’d remember this time.” (quote taken from the net LOL which just fit perfectly)

Backbone would have been to call the mom and tell her to bring the diapers and that was the third notice. Next time she will be charged for a pack of diapers. Passive aggressive was to write the note on the diaper and say nothing.

Quote:
When you do clean up AFTER an issue happens, it seems parents get the most upset.
I agree.

I am also one to let things slips sometimes and then it bites me in the butt later so ...........yeah.....enforce now and don't pay later for it
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Old 05-28-2013, 08:03 AM
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Both posts make sense- thanks to both of you!

I do go over policy at my interviews- but I will be fine tuning the process to make sure the DCP understand that my policy's are set for a reason.

So tell me in the example of the DCD and early drop-off:

I had specifically gone over the early drop off policy with them during the interview. I said I am very flexible and all I ask if you need an early drop-off to call/text me ahead of time so I am prepared. The DCD had dropped off early before this date and did not call/text. I simply reminded him that they need to let me know if they were bringing DCK early, even if they called/text when they were on their way. This last time I once again reminded that they really needed to let me know if they were dropping off early and he blew up at me and then told me he was late to work because I didn't answer the door sooner (he had to wait because I had just got out of the shower and wasn't dressed ).


So in this case: was I passive aggressive for only reminding them every time they dropped off early? Or was DCD just trying to put it back on me? Are parents really like this? As long as everything is going their way all is good and as soon as you put your foot down its a different story?
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Old 05-28-2013, 08:04 AM
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I think your biggest issue is allowing someone to do something until it bothers you and then you put a stop to it.
Totally agree! Stick to the contract from the very beginning.
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Old 05-28-2013, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by wahmof3 View Post
Both posts make sense- thanks to both of you!

I do go over policy at my interviews- but I will be fine tuning the process to make sure the DCP understand that my policy's are set for a reason.

So tell me in the example of the DCD and early drop-off:

I had specifically gone over the early drop off policy with them during the interview. I said I am very flexible and all I ask if you need an early drop-off to call/text me ahead of time so I am prepared. The DCD had dropped off early before this date and did not call/text. I simply reminded him that they need to let me know if they were bringing DCK early, even if they called/text when they were on their way. This last time I once again reminded that they really needed to let me know if they were dropping off early and he blew up at me and then told me he was late to work because I didn't answer the door sooner (he had to wait because I had just got out of the shower and wasn't dressed ).


So in this case: was I passive aggressive for only reminding them every time they dropped off early? Or was DCD just trying to put it back on me? Are parents really like this? As long as everything is going their way all is good and as soon as you put your foot down its a different story?

You were NOT passive aggressive for reminding them of your policy. PASSIVE aggression is just that: Passive. It's doing little things to cause discomfort to the recipient without direct confrontation. Like when my husband goes out golfing after I ask him to stay home and I "forget" to make dinner for him that night. THAT is being passive aggressive.
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Old 05-28-2013, 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by wahmof3 View Post

I said I am very flexible and all I ask if you need an early drop-off to call/text me ahead of time so I am prepared
I would have said. "I can be flexible if needed but ONLY if you call/text me 24 hours in advance. If you do NOT contact me a minimum of 24 hours in advance, I will NOT be able to accommodate you. "

See the difference? Your sentence is really nice. It's also kind of wishy-washy. You will be flexible but only if you ASK me in advance.

The parent needs to know EXACTLY how far in advance and that if asked in advance you MAY be able to accommodate and you may not.

Then when the parent didn't do as asked, you still accepted them with only a warning. I would have said "Sorry DCD, you did not schedule in advance like policy says so I cannot accept DCK into care until your normal scheduled time. "

Quote:
Originally Posted by wahmof3 View Post
I had specifically gone over the early drop off policy with them during the interview. I said I am very flexible and all I ask if you need an early drop-off to call/text me ahead of time so I am prepared. The DCD had dropped off early before this date and did not call/text. I simply reminded him that they need to let me know if they were bringing DCK early, even if they called/text when they were on their way. This last time I once again reminded that they really needed to let me know if they were dropping off early and he blew up at me and then told me he was late to work because I didn't answer the door sooner (he had to wait because I had just got out of the shower and wasn't dressed ).
I don't know the exact words used between you both but it does seem that you are just using words to remind them of your policies and not actually acting on your own policies...this is setting the stage for lots of conversation and no actions...kind of like nagging....so I am sure that is why DCD blew up. You kept reminding him but not doing anything about it.

Passive-aggressive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wahmof3 View Post
So in this case: was I passive aggressive for only reminding them every time they dropped off early? Or was DCD just trying to put it back on me? Are parents really like this? As long as everything is going their way all is good and as soon as you put your foot down its a different story?
YES!!! Parents are really like this. Happy when it works for them and mad when it doesn't. NOT mad when it can't work out but mad when it doesn't work out AFTER it did for so long....kwim?

You should have nipped it in the bud the first time it happened. I would have accepted the child into care but I would have charged them an early drop off fee AND I would have made it clear to DCD that it won't happen again without following policies.

Does that all make sense?
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Old 05-28-2013, 08:28 AM
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You were not being passive aggressive if it happened as you said. To avoid it in the future have a clear reasonable written policy hand book. If you will allow them to break policies sometimes like keeping the child until midnight have a charge set up in advance an stick to it.....

practice these two phrases...... I am sorry that won't work for me


Let me think about it and get back to you.


If someone wants an extra service say yes or no and tell them there is an extra charge for that of ------.
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Old 05-28-2013, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by crazydaycarelady View Post
Totally agree! Stick to the contract from the very beginning.
One thing to remember here is to set the precedent here from the beginning. Once you start veering off of what your policies say and give the client "special" then "special" becomes "normal" to them and it's expected. Then if you put your foot down later and go back to your "normal" then clients see it as if you are now changing the "normal" arrangement and become irritated or feel cheated etc.

If you don't mind doing certain things, put them in writing and have it in their contract then don't do anything other than what your agreement says. Enforce your policies always and be consistent. Be up front and firm with them.

I don't see anything in what you describe that can be misconstrued as passive aggressive unless it's not what you are saying but how you are saying it. For example:

"Oh, hi John. It's 7 a.m. and I wasn't expecting you this early today. I'm not prepared for the day yet. I have you schedules for 7:45 a.m. and you'll either need to come back at that time or pay the extra Unannounced Early Drop-Off fee of $15 for the extra 45 minutes. Also in the future if you need an earlier drop-off time I will need notice and and you will need approval on my end. So, will you be dropping off later or will you be paying the $15 now?"
-Firm and confident: Using backbone.

"Um ... uh ... good morning. Aren't we a little early this morning? Come in, come in. How are you doing today John? Um ... I don't think I remember getting a call saying that you'll be early today, did I? Uh ... well ok then. You know I would really appreciate it if you could, you know, give me a heads up or something next time so that, you know, I'll know that you'll be here early.
DCD: Oh yeah, I didn't have time OR DCD: Yeah, I forgot.
"Oh, ok."
-Wishy washy and weak: Can be interpreted as if you're not really serious about it so could be seen as passive.

Not saying that this is what happened here, just saying that this could be a possibility.
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Old 05-28-2013, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Blackcat31 View Post
I think your biggest issue is allowing someone to do something until it bothers you and then you put a stop to it. I personally would set the mood for your rules and policies IMMEDIATELY upon the interview so they know up front that the "little cracker" IS a big deal. (and why)

THAT is what sets you up for being called passive aggressive
This is it... this is why I'm considered passive aggressive as well. I'm a conflict avoider and a people pleaser. I needed to learn to be more direct. There's an art to being direct without being harsh or witchy, that I haven't mastered yet. I always feel bad when I'm being direct. I feel like I over-explain to get my point across and it feels 'naggy'. I also have found a 'backbone' on this website, and sometimes I need to step back and look to be sure I'm really feeling 'walked on' or is it just flexible.

I have built a pretty good daycare here, and I believe my personality, excellent care and some flexibility is what brought me great clients/dc families. Most of my clients were found by word of mouth. They pay my bills, and they are my customers and I need to try to keep them happy, in turn they will be more willing to play by my rules and want to keep ME happy. At least that's how it has been... I started reading the posts and got a negative/need to be stronger attitude and I think that's hurt me because I just went on a rampage instead of stepping back and realizing a soggy cracker upon arrival just wasn't worth the fight. I wasn't looking at the whole picture, just jumped on the bandwagon and though, yea - I shouldn't have to put up with THAT... but really? Is it worth the fight sometimes?

I think I can re-establish my 'rules' from time to time with reminders for the things I am unwilling to be flexible on (hours as my family time is really important to me), timely supplies & paying me on time.
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Old 05-28-2013, 09:39 AM
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everyone has shared good insight, especially BlackCat and Marina. You need to be clear on each policy and then enforce them. You being "flexible" is actually coming across as you being on-call for the parents and available any times. I think the main issue is that you are not even being that clear in the original policy. Like BC, set boundaries on when that heads up on a drop off change is communicated and what will happen if it is not. Parents really are like kids a lot of time.....you give them a lollipop 10 times and then withhold it the 11th time, you bet they are going to throw a tantrum. I think they are seeing you allowing something over and over and then (to them) suddenly not allowing it as passive aggressive....just randomly saying no when you have always said yes before. For now, do not allow any special treatment. If that makes you look witchy, so be it. IF you do allow anything special in the future, make sure you clearly state that. "Jeff, I will allow this early dropoff this morning but if it happens again, I wont allow Aiden to come in until your regular drop off time of 730am. I need you to understand that this is not to happen again without a text as outlined in my contract"
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Old 05-28-2013, 09:59 AM
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Thanks everyone for your thoughts on this. I can see where I am often wishy-washy and how by not enforcing policy one time can open doors that I don't want opened.

I will be working on all of this. I think I will also be going over my current policy book and revising it so there is nothing wishy washy in it.

Thanks again!
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Old 05-28-2013, 11:41 AM
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Backbone is "down to business, take no crap".

Passive agressive is "I'll play for a while, this could be fun, but I'll eventually win".
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Old 05-28-2013, 12:02 PM
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I do the same- say Oh it's just a little this or that no big deal, but in reality I want to be able to do what other providers on here do too! I still have an infant that I swore that I was going to term because he cries all day unless you hold him, but I haven't been able to get up the guts to term him. I have a lot to work on too! PP's have given great advice, thanks for posting this, I have learned a lot!
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Old 05-28-2013, 12:10 PM
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Good read.
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Old 05-28-2013, 01:12 PM
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This thread has some great advice! I'm finding the more I use my backbone the easier it gets. I would have been lost without this forum.
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Old 05-28-2013, 02:06 PM
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There's an art to being direct without being harsh or witchy, that I haven't mastered yet.
This is very true!

A lot of people seem to equate having a backbone with being a bitch.

That is so not necessary or true at all.

There IS a fine line to being firm and still friendly and approachable.

I don't have a secret formula for that, but it is important to be able to be firm and enforce your policies so you aren't getting trampled on but still doing it in a nice way.

The comment/feedback I hear most often when I ask people to be a reference for me is that I am always smiling and happy.....

I enforce my policies with a smile on my face. Firm does NOT mean mad, angry or upset.

To me, being firm means, empathizing with a family but NOT feeling the need to act due to those feelings.

Just because DCM's car broke down, her oldest DD needs $1,000's of dollars worth of dental work and she got her hours cut at work doesn't mean I am obligated to do anything other than what I normally do.

I feel bad for her. I really really do but at the end of the day, MY family still has needs too and I cannot put another family's needs before my own so instead I look that DCM in the face and tell her I feel awful for her.

I say I really hope she is able to find a way to make ends meet and that if she needs to discontinue child care, I will miss her and her kids but completely understand.

NO WHERE in that scenario though do I offer her a discount or a break in policies.

That's the difference for me PERSONALLY. I DO feel bad....I just don't act on those feelings.

Last edited by Blackcat31; 05-28-2013 at 02:28 PM.
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Old 05-28-2013, 02:25 PM
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This is very true!

A lot of people seem to equate having a backbone with being a bitch.

That is so not necessary or true at all.

There IS a fine line to being firm and still friendly and approachable.

I don't have a secret formula for that, but it is important to be able to be firm and enforce your policies so you aren't getting trampled on but still doing it in a nice way.

The comment/feedback I hear most often when I ask people to be a reference for me is that I am always smiling and happy.....

I enforce my policies with a smile on my face. Firm does NOT mean mad, angry or upset.

To me, being firm means, empathizing with a family but NOT feeling the need to act due to those feelings.

Just because DCM's car broke down, her oldest DD needs $1,000's of dollars worth of dental work and she got her hours cut at work doesn't mean I am obligated to do anything I normally do.

I feel bad for her. I really really do but at the end of the day, MY family still has needs too and I cannot put another family's needs before my own so instead I look that DCM in the face and tell her I feel awful for her.

I say I really hope she is able to find a way to make ends meet and that if she needs to discontinue child care, I will miss her and her kids but completely understand.

NO WHERE in that scenario though do I offer her a discount or a break in policies.

That's the difference for me PERSONALLY. I DO feel bad....I just don't act on those feelings.
This is EXACTLY how I want to be, but all too often my adrenaline kicks in and my anger/upset comes out. I want to be the smily upbeat rule enforcer that you discuss here.

I need and will get there- hopefully sooner than later.

Now I need to find a way to "practice"

Thanks again for all of the wonderful advice!! I cannot express how grateful I am to be able to come here and get honest help.
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Old 05-28-2013, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Blackcat31 View Post
This is very true!

A lot of people seem to equate having a backbone with being a bitch.

That is so not necessary or true at all.

There IS a fine line to being firm and still friendly and approachable.

I don't have a secret formula for that, but it is important to be able to be firm and enforce your policies so you aren't getting trampled on but still doing it in a nice way.

The comment/feedback I hear most often when I ask people to be a reference for me is that I am always smiling and happy.....

I enforce my policies with a smile on my face. Firm does NOT mean mad, angry or upset.

To me, being firm means, empathizing with a family but NOT feeling the need to act due to those feelings.

Just because DCM's car broke down, her oldest DD needs $1,000's of dollars worth of dental work and she got her hours cut at work doesn't mean I am obligated to do anything other than what I normally do.

I feel bad for her. I really really do but at the end of the day, MY family still has needs too and I cannot put another family's needs before my own so instead I look that DCM in the face and tell her I feel awful for her.

I say I really hope she is able to find a way to make ends meet and that if she needs to discontinue child care, I will miss her and her kids but completely understand.

NO WHERE in that scenario though do I offer her a discount or a break in policies.

That's the difference for me PERSONALLY. I DO feel bad....I just don't act on those feelings.
well written. we need to be firm but in control. do not get outwardly upset, unprofessional or baited into arguing with a parent.
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Old 05-28-2013, 03:55 PM
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well written. we need to be firm but in control. do not get outwardly upset, unprofessional or baited into arguing with a parent.
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Old 05-28-2013, 06:18 PM
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I have not read all of the other replies, but all I can think of when I read your post is what I once did.

I would say that you need NOT to let people negotiate your rules or bend them in the first place.

Adults will act just like children and throw tantrums when you take things away. If you never gave it in the first place, it will never become an issue.,

Taking away after giving it is always SOOOOOOOO much harder.

I just had to do this with one family and told them that I could no longer over look rules that were being broken. Either we all get on the same page or they needed to look for a different provider. It was pretty amazing to see them crumble at the thought of losing me. All of a sudden my polices were they best around??????
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Old 05-28-2013, 07:29 PM
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AmyKidsCo AmyKidsCo is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Wisconsin
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Originally Posted by daycare View Post
I would say that you need NOT to let people negotiate your rules or bend them in the first place.

Adults will act just like children and throw tantrums when you take things away. If you never gave it in the first place, it will never become an issue.,

Taking away after giving it is always SOOOOOOOO much harder.

I just had to do this with one family and told them that I could no longer over look rules that were being broken. Either we all get on the same page or they needed to look for a different provider. It was pretty amazing to see them crumble at the thought of losing me. All of a sudden my polices were they best around??????
ITA but I'm guilty of giving a little here and there until suddenly I feel like a doormat. Then I write a general letter to all the parents saying what the problem is, what my policies are, and that although I've bent the policies up until now as of (date) I'm no longer able to do so and the policies will be enforced. Generally the parents are very understanding - sometimes they didn't realize that things were getting out of hand on their end until it was pointed out to them.
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