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stephanie 06:02 PM 06-12-2015
Hi everyone, hoping I can get your advice. Sorry this is super long. I work in a center in the toddler room with one other co-teacher. We also have a floater teacher who works in the toddler room as needed.

Dcb 2.5 is happy and well-behaved on the days when it's just me and co-teacher in the room. When floater is in the room, he's like a different child. He is very attached to the floater and will throw a fit every time she cannot sit by him, play with him, pick him up, etc. When he scrapes his knee when floater isn't around, he picks himself up and keeps playing. When floater is there, he screams and wails.

I like floater a lot, but I feel she is perpetuating his behavior by giving him attention when he throws fits like this. I think she sees his tantrums as him being upset and sad and needing comfort, and I (along with my co-teacher) see his tantrums as acting out for attention. When floater isn't around, if dcb has a tantrum my co-teacher or I ask if he "needs to relax", i.e. lay down in the book area and calm himself down until he stops crying and screaming and can rejoin the group. We generally don't talk to him or give him any attention during this time, b/c we want him to learn how to soothe himself and that throwing tantrums isn't an effective way to get attention, etc. When floater IS around and he throws a tantrum, she will talk to him, pick him up, hold him, and do special activities with him until he feels better.

Example: like this afternoon, dcb had a bucket of sand and was about to dump it on the playground. Floater told dcb don't dump it, dcb dumped it anyway, floater reprimanded him, dcb has tantrum. Floater tries to get him to pick the sand up, it doesn't work. Another dck ends up doing most of the work and dcb puts the sand bucket back in the sandbox. Another kid grabs the bucket (it was unattended so fair game), dcb has tantrum, floater picks him up and comforts him. If my co-teacher or I were there, we wouldn't have rewarded him with attention for that behavior. For 2.5 he is very intelligent and very verbal and knows very well how to ask for a turn with toys and communicate with his peers, etc. So dcb learns from this experience that throwing a fit over taking turns with a toy means he gets held and has one on one time with the teacher.

As you can imagine, this is incredibly frustrating for me and I want to talk to my co-worker about ways to improve the situation without sounding accusatory. She has a different way of doing things, and I don't want to flat-out tell her she's wrong. Do we just have different philosophies about this (comforting a tantrum vs. ignoring a tantrum)? She is generally a lot "softer" on the kids than my co-teacher and I are. I know a lot of you dc providers work by yourselves, but does anyone have any advice on dealing with this co-worker?
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Thriftylady 06:17 PM 06-12-2015
I am not sure that you should talk to the co-worker. I would go to the director with my concerns. Tell him/her exactly what you said here. Be sure to tell the director that you do like this co-worker, but it is just an issue with this one child. Perhaps then a meeting can be called and you can all brainstorm ways to work with the child. Going straight to the co-worker could backfire on you. And it isn't really what she is doing, it is how this child handles it and reacts it sounds like to me. I am guessing she does the same thing with the other children?
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nannyde 06:31 PM 06-12-2015
It's easier for her to take care of one kid than a group of kids. She's picking the kid who will give her something to do that is one to one care. It isn't about spoiling him or pampering him. It's about her creating a full time job with ONE kid AND she gets superhero status for her kind gentle redirection.

This happens a lot in the infant room. Staff members will pick the fussiest baby and want to hold walk rock the ONE baby so they don't have to do the other three they are assigned to. They protest the staff protesting them singling one kid out with words like "her mom doesn't want her crying" or "we can't just let her CRY!"

She just wants to do ONE kid and he is the perfect candidate to accomplish that.
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Thriftylady 06:42 PM 06-12-2015
Originally Posted by nannyde:
It's easier for her to take care of one kid than a group of kids. She's picking the kid who will give her something to do that is one to one care. It isn't about spoiling him or pampering him. It's about her creating a full time job with ONE kid AND she gets superhero status for her kind gentle redirection.

This happens a lot in the infant room. Staff members will pick the fussiest baby and want to hold walk rock the ONE baby so they don't have to do the other three they are assigned to. They protest the staff protesting them singling one kid out with words like "her mom doesn't want her crying" or "we can't just let her CRY!"

She just wants to do ONE kid and he is the perfect candidate to accomplish that.
Well sadly I have to trust that with your experiences you know this, but have to say I would have never thought of it and it saddens me to think about it.
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finsup 07:41 PM 06-12-2015
When I first started working with kids (school agers in a classroom and after school program) I did the same thing. Connected with one child really well (typically the "difficult" ones) and just didn't know exactly how to teach to the group. I mean, I tried, but I wasn't great at it. One on one though, I was awesome at that (and to be fair it did land me some great jobs where I was able to reach some pretty challening kiddos, but I needed to be a good group teacher too.) With help from other staff, experience and education I figured out how to teach to a group and do it well. I suspect this staff member has formed a connection with this boy and that's a great feeling and as a result they seek each other out. You could try assigning her a job to a different group of kids (lead an activity for 3-4 kids not including this boy maybe?) If you see him going towards her, find a job for him and redirect his attention. Basically just encourage the two to separate. I think you could talk to her too, doesn't have to be harsh or anything. Compliment the connection they have but also make it clear what the expectations are during tantrums etc. As a floater, she may not be completely aware or really know how to act. If you don't want to call her out, have a group meeting to go over "issues" and lead a discussion on what handling a tantrum looks like. Anyways, this is where I'd start. A!l free things were something that happened to me early on and I am so thankful for that now. Annoyed at the time? Yeah...a little heh. Challenged? Oh yeah. But those experiences helped me become a much better teacher.
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racemom 09:45 PM 06-12-2015
This^ the only thing I have to add is maybe redirect the staff member. When he starts to tantrum say to floater I'll take care of dcb will you... something with another child or group. The more you can separate them the better. It is so easy to fall into the trap of focusing on the challenging kids, especially when you are not regularly with them. And the dcb knows how to play this teacher so he gets his one on one time and she probably doesn't even realize it.
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KidGrind 05:52 AM 06-13-2015
You can always pull her to the side and tell her how you two normally deal with the situation as you did above. You can add, DCB is awesome. I think we can help him better if were on the same page.

I dont know the floater motives. She could be Type 1 Child as Nanny D mentioned. She could equally just be Type Hug-A-Child. Ive seen both in this situation working with multiple providers at events.

I as the boss told both types, Hey Jane, I appreciate your trying to soothe the child. He is fine now. I need you up and moving. See Susan over there, she could use some help with that group. Ill keep an eye on this little one.

I would address the situation. Then give them a specific duty to attend to in order to move them away from the child. And if they eased back to the child during an event I would call over another staff and tell Jane, Your soothing technique isnt allow the child to pull themselves & have fun! Barbara is going to take over from here. I dont want you clean the area over there and then start a group game with 6 kids or more."
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stephanie 03:03 PM 06-13-2015
Originally Posted by Thriftylady:
I am not sure that you should talk to the co-worker. I would go to the director with my concerns. Tell him/her exactly what you said here. Be sure to tell the director that you do like this co-worker, but it is just an issue with this one child. Perhaps then a meeting can be called and you can all brainstorm ways to work with the child. Going straight to the co-worker could backfire on you. And it isn't really what she is doing, it is how this child handles it and reacts it sounds like to me. I am guessing she does the same thing with the other children?
I think it's both what she does and how dcb reacts to it, kind of like a vicious cycle. And to answer your question, it's just this one dcb who acts differently when floater is in the room, all of the other kids behave the same whether she's there or not.

I think on Monday I will take the advice to just try to redirect her in the moment and keep her separate from dcb. Since I am the classroom teacher and she is the floater who's job is to help with kids as needed, I don't think that sort of direction should be inappropriate. I just struggle with being assertive like that sometimes.

I like the idea of approaching the issue as being on the same page and being consistent. Finsup you're right that as a floater it's hard to know all the expectations of all the classrooms when you're navigating among them. This dcb is also going to be moving into the young preschool room in the next few months so I can also tell the floater he needs to get used to soothing himself because the teachers in preschool definitely do not hold and coddle children.

Thank you all so much for your suggestions! I really appreciate it, and feel free to keep them coming!
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Thriftylady 07:18 PM 06-13-2015
Originally Posted by stephanie:
I think it's both what she does and how dcb reacts to it, kind of like a vicious cycle. And to answer your question, it's just this one dcb who acts differently when floater is in the room, all of the other kids behave the same whether she's there or not.

I think on Monday I will take the advice to just try to redirect her in the moment and keep her separate from dcb. Since I am the classroom teacher and she is the floater who's job is to help with kids as needed, I don't think that sort of direction should be inappropriate. I just struggle with being assertive like that sometimes.

I like the idea of approaching the issue as being on the same page and being consistent. Finsup you're right that as a floater it's hard to know all the expectations of all the classrooms when you're navigating among them. This dcb is also going to be moving into the young preschool room in the next few months so I can also tell the floater he needs to get used to soothing himself because the teachers in preschool definitely do not hold and coddle children.

Thank you all so much for your suggestions! I really appreciate it, and feel free to keep them coming!
Glad you found some things you think will work. Hopefully they will work. I guess I hate confrontation so darn much I avoid it at all costs lol.
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Tags:behavior issues, center, co-workers
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