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Length Of Parental Stay In 'settling In' Stay


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We've got a tricky situation at the moment. The preschool is run along the lines that parents are welcome to stay as long as they feel the need for settling in purposes. There's one family where the mother has been doing this throughout her recent pregnancy. Apparently father would only allow the child to attend if she was there too - something to do with his own past possibly. We talked through what would happen after the baby was born but didn't conclude the discussion because the baby arrived early. This morning father has arrived with the child & told staff he will be staying until child is old enough to tell father exactly what has happened - names and addresses of kids who've hit him were mentioned. Father implied it was to do with abuse or bullying in his own past. Child will be 4 in the Autumn. Obviously we plan to build a relationship with him, reassure etc but some alarm bells are ringing about how long father will expect him to be accompanied - into school? This morning staff are saying they're not very comfortable with him around.We asked EYSS for advice but it was outside their remit. Haven't tried the Development Office yet because I don't know her that well.

 

Hope you can make something of what I'm saying. I'd welcome any comments/insight.

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oh dear. :o

My first thoughts are that probably you have two choices, to humour the parents or to tell them to leave.

 

Its a great shame that there is an expectation that the child will be hit and it is quite alarming that they seem to wish to sort it themselves. I would imagine that this child could be emotionally at risk.

 

You will need to work with these parents to gain their trust that their child will be safe in your care and that you do not tolerate bullying, stressing the importantance of the childs developing independence.

 

I think there is a real danger that should decide to take the hard line that the parents will leave and take the child with them. Perhaps you could ask your Area Senco for some support in talking to them, can you involve the health visitor?

 

Good luck.

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Goodness - this is a new one on me! My initial thoughts are that the problem must run deep for the father to react in this way and therefore you need to tread very carefully. Maybe it would be useful to set up a meeting with the parents to discuss this more fully - the sorts of incidents he fears and the policies and procedures you have in place to deal with these. He also needs to understand that he could be potentially harming his son's development in certain areas if he continues to 'shadow' him indefinately. Children need to learn to deal with disputes independently - being hit/pushed etc and hitting/pushing back are part of the learning process. It's how we support children that is vital! Will need to go away and think about this more fully!! :o

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I'm sure we are all agreed that the parent is the prime carer and they bring with them their own agendas which have to be respected.... not just lip service. We, too, bring our own personal agendas of course. I too have never heard of this one but it deserves our careful consideration from every angle doesn't it? I hope the discussion that follows will be as helpful as the one about the triplets which I started this week. It helped me to get a really wide range of views and experiences to guide me on the way forward.

 

A few points to add to the discussion:

 

What's your physical environment like. Is there a staff area where the parent can stay, help you out with jobs and be on hand for their child should the need arise, rather than shadowing throughout the session? As you say, this is something to work towards once you have gained their confidence........ Also, do you operate a Keyworker system where the parent can begin to appreciate that the keyworker will build a close relationship with the child and be on hand at all times......... What is your staffing level like? Reiterating that the children will always be closely supervised. Maybe you have flexibility in your staffing and could increase by 1 for a while to build parent's confidence and help them see you are taking them seriously....... funds permitting of course!

 

Good luck!

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Dad has got a problem hasnt he? :o

You may not win on this one. We had a family like this some years ago, the child was eventually taken out of the setting because mom said she had been scared during mat time over something that was never made clear. The child is now about 8 yrs old and I often see mom in the school and have been given the raised eyebrows by the deputy head. I'd initially do what Beau says, set up a meeting and talk through dads fears and your policies and proceedures, and the fact that helping his child like this isnt really helping him at all. Good luck :D

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Firstly can I say how helpful I'm finding your comments. I have experienced something similar with maternal anxiety, but this is my 1st with a father. Mum has been quite happy to do jobs etc [Lisa's suggestion] but Dad's reaction was 'I'll look after him!" He does have a keyworker but I have to admit not one ofthe stronger team members: I could look at changing that. The ratio is OK with at least 4 staff to max:24 children & often more, but there are some issues around others' behaviour. The Area SENCO is involved with these children, but said this situation is outside her remit. I hadn't thought about the Health Visitor but I suspect she won't speak to me without parental permission- as you'd expect- & that may not be forthcoming. Feeder school isn't too easy because there are 4 in the town, but I may be able to do something off the record this term because teachers often visit as aprt of the transfer process.I think it's going to have to be the meeting, but I don' t think that will be soon becaaus eof the Caesarian delivery. I'd like Mum there. Have to say I've always got on fine with Mum - she seemed fed up with partner's attitude too. I'm sure there's something deep-rooted there. I think I'll work on building a relationship for the next few sessions & see how we go.

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Well, this is a situation that needs careful consideration!

 

I agree with LJW - the commitment to working with parents for the benefit of their child is of vital importance. If you take a strong line, the likelihood is that the father will take the child away, and this could be even more damaging in terms of his long term development.

 

Does the father follow the child around during the session, and does this prevent him from forming friendships? I would say that children enjoy having a man in the setting to play with, but I'm sensing that the father is there in a 'watching' capacity rather than one of joining in the fun.

 

I agree about the need to reassure the father that you have strategies for dealing with unwanted behaviour or disputes. I would hope that the father will be able to see these strategies in action, see how effective they are and then feel able to leave his son in your care condifently.

 

Some way needs to be found of helping the father to see that although he wants to protect his son, his actions may be harming his long term development. I'm definitely not qualified enough to even begin to contemplate this aspect.

 

A review meeting may be needed with the view of setting a target when the father will leave the child on his own in your care - just as a matter of practicalities, what will he do when he has two children in two different settings? No-one can be in two places at once!

 

But it sounds to me as if you have a lot of work to do to gain his trust and a lot of ongoing reassurance and hand holding.

 

This needs to be addressed before he leaves you, and it could take that long to build up a relationship with the family to get over this major block preventing the child from settling into pre-school and gaining some independence away from home. I'd be inclined to raise it with your LEA if your early years team say its out of their remit. Somewhere there must be a professional who can help you, or to get access to the help you need.

 

Let us know how things progress.

 

Maz

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Hi Weightman

A real difficult one and one that rings a few alarm bells with me. I think you need to be very careful. As everyone says there are a lot of issues here which you do not know about and which may be quite difficult to get to the bottom of. On the one hand his behaviour appears to be quite controlling and yet on the other one could say it was admirable - if not a little misconceived - how does the child behave in his presence - is he happy for you to make observations on the child's progress and to interact with the child - and as someone else says does he allow the child to make friends and play with others. Why do the other staff feel uncomfortable when he is there - did they also feel uncomfortable when the child's mother was there too?

 

I have had several Dad's who have stayed and settled their child and they have all been a real bonus - building robots, constructing - you know the sort of things men enjoy doing! - in fact when I commented to one "gosh I never thought of doing that" - he retorted - "well, it's a man thing" - which is so true. One came for half a term, the child was very prem and obviously very precious and quite rightly they wanted to make sure she was ok. We were quite sad to see him leave when he felt the child was confident about him going. That "man thing" does work very well sometimes. (just read that back - please don't misconstrue!!!!)

 

Another consideration would be that how you manage the parent in the nursery - as a committee run playgroup most of my parents are CRB'd but my policies state that at no time regardless of whether they are CRB'd will anyone other than the staff be left on their own with the children. I think you are right in considering a change in keyworker if you feel that someone else would be be better positioned to deal with the family. I also think that perhaps you need to discuss with the staff their concerns and why they feel uncomfortable and how you are all going to manage this. The child certainly seems to need a pre school to help him develop his independence.

 

Sorry I don't have a magic solution but I do know that I would carefully think about each and every step - introducing a formal meeeting to discuss this particular aspect may be hard and you don't necessarily want to bring the barriers up any more. Have you got a regular review meeting update coming up soon that you could combine it with and have they attended one before?

Good luck

Nikki

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I have read with interest the comments and think they are full of sound advice. I too would be concerned if this were a parent of a child in my setting. I believe you can contact the child's Health Visitor in confidence, ours are very tactful, they may not be able to feed back information without parental consent but they do make visits until the child is 5yrs and they will have plenty of opportunity with a new baby at home.

As said before it will be difficult for staff to build up a relationship while parent is always present. Fathers presence will also inhibit the child's own personal and social development but more worryingly it shows a lack of trust of the staff, if this is the case I would suggest to him to look for another setting.

 

I would also review your policy and reword it so you can if you wish limit the length of time a parent stays.

 

You also have to consider what happens if he speaks to another child in an inappropriate manner, as an over protective parent it is bound to happen sooner or later.

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