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ADVICE - Pet rabbit, parent suddently has problem


emasi8624
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Hi there,

 

I was hoping to get some advice about a matter that has just come up....

 

We have a pet rabbit at the nursery who is a house rabbit. We bought him shortly after the nursery opened and he has been with us since he was a baby. The children love him and it really helps to settle new children into the nursery as they love to come and see the rabbit, We did a consultation with existing parents at the time who all voted in favour of the rabbit He is super friendly and is only out under close supervision. The nursery is cleaned throughly on a daily basis.

 

We have a parent whose child has just started nursery with us. They came for settling in sessions a few weeks ago and all was fine. They were even playing with the rabbit together. The parent has started to try to make a few demands, which we have accomodated where we can, but some things I had to be quite firm about, for example, not wanting the staff to have any facebook or social networking sites at all (I told her that I cannot control the staff's lives and that is their choice, all I can do is put a policy in place regarding the nursery and confidentiality). She also decided that we shouldnt have sand because her child can get eczema.

 

On monday last week she came in and started to do very exagerated sneezes and coughs and then declaired that she is suddenly allergic to the rabbit. Anyway today she called me whilst her child was at nursery and said she has decided that her child also has an allergy to the rabbit and we need to get rid of it. She said she has decided that it was not the sand that causes his eczema as he no longer gets it, now it is just a rash from the rabbit! She has therefore demanded that we get rid of the rabbit straight away.

 

I have suggested we move the rabbit into the office on the days her child is in (2 mornings a week), but she says she wants the rabbit completely gone. She said she wil pull the child out and probably complain otherwise. I asked her if she could get the child allergy tested to ensure that he is allergic to the rabbit beofre we do anything drastic, and she said no, that she just knows and i need to deal with it.

 

I just wanted to ask what you would do in my situation? Obviously if I knew the child was allergic the rabbit would have to go. however, I am not convinced and feel like if it wasnt the rabbit it would be something else, its just another thing to try to change and be in control. Hmmmmm what to do...... She is coming to meet with me tomorrow, wish me luck!

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Hmmm tricky one isn't it.....the rabbit was there first and you clearly have policies relating to the animal etc

 

I think it was good of you to offer to put the rabbit away during the child's sessions but what happens if they increase their sessions and do 5 days a week?

 

I am a little uncomfortable with this parents demands....presumably she did visit the setting before she signed her child up and she chose you so odd that suddenly now things aren't right.

 

I think you need to stick to your guns and explain that the rabbit stays....what about all the other children who love it and get so much from the experience of caring for a pet?

 

Best of luck

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My first reaction was to say I'd tell the parent what the notice period is and be very understanding of her wish to withdraw her child in favour of a nursery that is better placed to meet her child's needs.

 

However having thought about it a bit more, I wondered if you would really remove the rabbit altogether if one child was allergic to it? The rabbit has been part of your setting's life for so long, and there are definite benefits to all the other children in the group of having it there. It would be a shame for all of those benefits to other children in the group to be lost, especially when there is no evidence that this child is actually allergic. Sorry - just thinking all this through as I type!

 

However, this is one of those situations when the dreaded 'I' word comes into play - the argument that you can't do something because that wouldn't be inclusive practice, and the likelihood of a complaint to Ofsted if action isn't taken. So if it were me I would be calling my Local Authority for advice about how to proceed.

 

Whilst no-one wants a complaint being made about them to Ofsted, it is important (I believe) to balance the needs of the children in the whole group against those of one child. It sounds to me that you have been very reasonable in offering to remove the rabbit from the room when she is there, especially since the parent is unwilling to get the child tested. Without knowing the parent, it does sound that once the rabbit is removed, she'll go on to find something else that needs to be changed. You've been very firm with the facebook issue, and I think with this parent you'll need to judge each request/demand on its merits and where a criticism is valid, take action. However on others, you'll need to patiently but firmly point out your setting's policies and practices (perhaps explaining the benefits of them, too) and let her make her own decision about how to proceed.

 

I wonder if this parent is finding it hard to let her child go? Sounds to me like she's feeling very unhappy and unsettled herself (especially if her child is happier at nursery than she thought he would be), and is looking for reasons not to be happy with the group. This might be a parent who needs a lot more tlc than most - she just has an unfortunate way of communicating her needs to you!

 

Best of luck!

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Thanks for your replies, and your support and advice. It is very much appreciated and basically confirms what I was thinking!

 

I think I am going to have to be firm on this one and challenge her. The place is a funded 2 year old place and i think it is unlikely she will increase the days. When she started she had a list of demands - not questions, DEMANDS. I listened and the things I could do i did, for example, dietary requirements, even trying to ensure he does not have contact with the sand. It even stems as far as not wanting the staff to wear any fashion items out of nursery with skulls or crosses on, and not wanting the child to see any book that has anything magical or make believe. I really do think that it is just another thing to pick up on and try to have control over. I knew I had to be firm from the start as if I gave her an inch she would take a mile. They had no problem with the rabbit when settling in, they were even playing with it. I also suggested that it would probably be more likey that he would cough and sneeze, rather than get a rash just from breathing the same air as the rabbit. I think I am going to have to call her bluff on this one and maybe also get some advice from early years. I do not like how her story has changed, forst he gets eczema, then he doesnt anymore but gets a rash from sand cause its dirty, then its decided that its not the sand that affects him its the rabbit. Why phone me half way through the day when the child is at nursery to tell me this?!

 

We have had our first Ofsted inspeaction 3 weeks ago that went brilliantly. We are a new nursery and we got good, so I was delighted. The inspector commented on the children's relationship with the rabbit and even witnessed now it helped the new starters to settle in as one of the boys brought in carrots for the rabbit to distract him from mum leaving. I really go not want to get rid of the rabbit, I live in an appartment so its not like I can take it home and we have had it since it was a baby so we are all very attached.

 

I guess its just another one of those challenges that come up and we will see what happens when the parent arrives this evening!

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Reading your second post makes me even surer that the parent is feeling very insecure at the moment, and looking for things to criticise. She probably isn't aware of this consciously, so she does need you to be firm but patient with her.

 

There's a saying that the children who annoy us the most need us the most. In my experience, the same is true of parents! ;)

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Surely the most that would be needed is for the child to not touch the rabbit if there is only a rash (even if that is caused by the rabbit).

Anything more serious would have shown up by now and it would be different if the child was having breathing problems etc.

 

I think you should Back the Bunny!

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I'm definitely in the 'Back the Bunny' brigade :1b

 

Sounds to me that this mum may be feeling that she has lost 'control' - and that she can regain a little by 'controlling' you and the setting.......perhaps she doesn't really want her child to be nursery at all?

 

Some fabulous advice already - would just add - log each and every conversation - this will be very useful if she does (and I don't really think that she will) make any sort of 'official complaint' against you.

 

I'm so pleased to see that Ofsted made such positive comments about the rabbit - are these written in your report? Hope so! :1b

 

Good luck with it all - don't forget to let us know how it works out :1b

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What a shame :(

I'd be inclined to demand medical notes and treatments needed. Put everything back in her hands so she has to prove it. My youngest had eczema and asthma, the triggers for both were fairly random but they were always instant. If this child has a reaction to the sand or the rabbit it wouldn't wait until he got home.

Monitor him when he's with you, breathing, itching, skin colour etc so you can tell mom he's been fine. Ask if she's changed her washing powder too ;)

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Hi to enable us to work effectively,working with parents comes top of the list in my humble opinion, however I do feel as others have already pointed out that her choice was there when choosing your provision and although I'm sure you would always respects parents wishes this does seem excessive.

Listen, note, and then refer her back to your policies if you have too.

Great idea from Rea with regard to Medical notes, sounds like she could really do with some support too.

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Thank you for all your reponses..... well the results are in....

 

I spoke with the parent this evening. I offerend keeping the rabbit in my office from thurs evening through to tuesday this week to see if this made a difference, I also pointed out that if it was the rabbit causing the rash surely this would have been there all along and would have happened during first few weeks when he was actually having contact with the rabbit. (he has had no contact with the rabbit the last few sessions. She didnt want to hear me and had an anser for every solution I offered and said she would just take the child out. I even suggested that due to the child being in a new environment, there could be a number of things causing a rash we would really appreciate getting an allergy test from doctor so we can confirm before we were to take drastic action of removing the rabbit (although I dont know if I could have brought myself to do that). But she insists she knows its the rabbit and even if we get rid of it the rabbits "things" will still be in the air for weeks to come! So I couldnt win.

 

I think you were right and she was not ready for the child to actually attend nursery. I dont think it sat well with her that the child was really confident and loved his time at nursery and would run straight off to play with his friends as soon as he came through the door. I dont think she expected that and because she couldnt find anything to complain about, this was the only thing she could use. Her other child is slightly older and was there during this discussion. When she was talking about this rash he had last week and how bad it was (before it myseteriously disappeared before his next session) the little boy said "There wasnt anything mum", she nudged him and told him to be quiet!

 

But hey at least I know that I tried everything I could and not to take it personally, it was more about her and her own issues rather than any real issues to do with the nursery. So the bunny stays :)

 

My next question is..... we require a 4 week notice period for parents wishing to end their contract with us. Because this is a funded 2 year old place (15 hours), does anyone know if I can still claim the required notice period? As afetrall this is a place we could have offered to another family and we may not be able to fill it right away. And due to the days this child attends being so busy, we have an extra staff member in place to meet ratios.

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Great advice so far. I'm backing the bunny too :P

 

Maybe she would like to provide some gloves her son could wear when handling the rabbit to prevent him getting a rash and also maybe some of their own handwash in case yours is irritating his skin.

You could also suggest that she keeps a diary of when the rash is better or worse and you could keep a record of when he handles the rabbit, uses the sand and also plays with playdough (this used to really aggravate the eczema on y daughter's hands). After a few weeks you could compare notes and see if there is a correlation. It should give you good evidence of what the problem really is.

 

Oops. Cross posted!

Sorry to hear she took the child out.

Edited by Upsy Daisy
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Keep the bunny. Claim the four weeks notice period, but let your LEA know what you are doing and why, in case she decides to take the child elsewhere......or make a complaint about why she took the child out. You did, I think, all the right things, so relax.

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My LA used to allow us to claim the notice period for funded children, but where the parent chose to move to another provider without giving notice they 'encouraged' the settings to come to an arrangement about transferring the funding. It would probably be best to check with your LA before stating your intentions to the parent either way. It was a big point of discussion in our area when we were working out the Single Funding Formula a little while back!

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I have check with the LA, they said that the funding follows the child, however, if the parent is not planning for the child to attend another nursery within the four weeks notice period then we can claim it.I doubt she will put him in another nursery to be honest, but yes definately a shame since the little boy really enjoyed the experience.

 

Pom says thank you to you all (please see attached pic!)

post-48190-0-14755200-1380102198_thumb.jpg

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It'ssad isn't it, that despite the efforts of practitioners like you, some parents just can't be pleased. I often wonder how the "unpleasable" parents cope when their children go on to school, and they are met with sytems and procedures that are so far less flexible than those offered by nurseries/preschools.

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