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'forcing' Children?


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I'd like your thoughts again please!

 

Yesterday at 11.20 a.m. the children went out, all with their coats on. After 5 minutes one child took his coat off & flatly refused to put it back on. [He's nearly 3.5 years old] His mother came to pick him up 5 minutes later & complained that he was outside in just his T-shirt & vest, & that his hands were frozen. She felt that the staff should have made him put it back on. The staff knew that he would be going back in in 5 minutes, which was why he'd not been forced to do so. A member of staff had checked that his arms were warm, and he was playing under the cover of a canopy. The temperature was 9-10 C. To have made him go back in when he took his coat off would, in staff's eyes, have 'punished' him.

 

What I'm concerned about is how far staff should go in 'forcing' children to do things like this. [The mother actually said 'You have to force him to put his coat on'] This situation also occurs in the context of eating lunch: 'make them eat their sanwiches first' - where there's a whole lot of difference between encouraging & forcing. I'm not prepared to ask the staff to force feed :o

 

Any thoughts on how far it's reasonable to go? I'm already drafting up a 'special instructions' book that parents must sign for these sorts of situations, but would still like your opinions. I don't think my brain's working too well - I need my half term!

 

Many thanks

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My Positive behaviour management policy states among other things that "adults will not intimidate, force or bully".

 

We have to be so careful though when parents have just a snippet of information. The last thing you want is that the parent is telling everyone "they make the children stay out with no coats in freezing weather". or "My son never eats his sandwich, only his desert"

 

Informing parents with a booklet is a good idea, giving examples of what the childrens benefits are of being outdoors even for short periods of time, suggesting putting sandwiches in lunchboxes that children want to eat, ( we offer healthy snacks throughout the day so they won't go hungry if they don't eat their lunch).

 

Also try to promote the idea that children have a voice, that they need to learn to make choices, (often through trial and error- if he felt cold he wouldn't have refused to put on his coat) that their ideas need to be listened to and that this builds self esteem, responsibility etc.

 

Good luck.

 

Peggy

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Just an empathy post really, what do we do in these situations? For every parent who wants their child forced there's a parent who doesn't ! I think any parent/school agreement works okay until this sort of incident is part of a bigger issue - which may not be school related (and in my jaded opinion is usually financial or relationship based) - when nothing the setting does is right. Have used workshop evenings to discuss these sorts of issues so that at least I can refer to a previous discussion. How does Mum 'force' him into his coat? It's obviously an issue and my bet is he gets away with it sometimes at home which is why he tries it on at nursery.

We find that a child who won't wear his/her coat outside will wear a dressing up outfit, firefighters coat, police officer, etc.

In a way it's all about who's in charge and in most of the families I have in my setting it's the children!

Barb

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I'd be of the mind to allow any child to go without a coat if thats what they really wanted. After asking him to put it back on and explaining that he will be cold and possibly ill, I'd leave it up to him. You could also give him a choice, calmly ask the question 'wear your coat or go inside, what would you like to do, it's your descision.' :) A coat is restrictive when you're running round, swinging your arms, throwing, catching etc. But some children are just plain contrary, he might have been really cold but after having a number of people tell him to put his coat on he could have been thinking he'd rather freeze than admit they were right (I speak from the contrary corner). Mom? Well, you can never please everyone. Ask her how you should force a 3yr old to do something. Does she want you to man handle him? I think if given a choice she will agree that you cant force him to do something.

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That's just it, Rea, I think she does want us to make him do it. He's the sort of child who definitely has his own agenda, and on balance I'd support that.She is generally very supportive of us, but unfortunately there was an incident in January, involving him refusing to wear an apron in water play where to cut a long story short we missed noticing that the water had run back up his sleeves, down his body to his waistband. Apparently he was sitting shivering in the car outside his older siblings' school before she noticed - but he went down with chickenpox that weekend. I think she feels we've let him down twice.

 

I think I'm going to have to explain our reluctance to manhandle children and why, and ask her to sign something if she really insists. Otherwise I can see that we might lose him, & we can't afford that to happen at the minute if it can be prevented.

 

Some good ideas from Peggy and Barb; thank you!

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I am not sure that parents written permission should enable you to use force. Maybe by asking permission the parent will be able to consider your position and rethink her requirements of you.

 

My aims and objective for my preschool include the United nations convention and childrens rights in the UK, which I discovered on the National Childrens Bureau site. It helps me to consider and respect BOTH the parents and childs perspective.

The_United_Nations_Convention_and_Childrens_Rights_in_the_UK.doc

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That was really what I meant Peggy; I didn't express it very well, with so much else going on this week. Grandparents just collected him so I won't see him till after half term and I'm going to sit on it till we're back at least.

 

Yes I use the Children's Rights convention too; unfortunately, as with so much written mater we produce, I get the feeling that few actually read it. It's also very difficult getting the balance when out partnership with parents ethos says that we will care for the child in the manner requested by the parents whenever possible.

Edited by Guest
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Yes, the balance can be difficult, the UNCCR helps me to remember that the parent is the responsible one and to respect their views but also give appropriatte guidance consistent with the childs rights.

 

Maybe in after the break you could arrange a meeting with the parent and discuss, negotiate and agree shared boundaries for the areas she is concerned with. Then include the child in the meeting to share with him the agreed rules, produce some child friendly pictures depicting the rules, share these with all children if appropriate- united front and all that but still in the best interest of the child.

 

Have a nice break. :D

 

 

Peggy

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As always Peggy has put up some good stuff - but it's really sad that you have to go through all this for what I consider to be a very small and minor issue - you seem to have behaved in an exemplary way - there was nothing you could really fault yourself on - unfortunately it is these issues that make bigger issues or is this still a remnant from the previous time or something else? Yes we have all missed things, that also goes with the territory - you cannot have eyes in the back of your head.

 

I agree with offering choices but if he is as contrary as you say then you will have to look at how you will manage this - the coat incident didn't seem that important to me with only 5 minutes to go and 10 degrees outside. I agree with Peggy that you need to have a conversation with the parent as she obviously feels aggrieved - perhaps you could turn the question back on her and ask for her help and what works for her and if she says she forces him then you can direct her to the relevant legislation to say why you cannot and work together to come up with a solution.

 

Nikki

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from a practical point would it be worth suggesting that he has a lighter coat that is not so restrictive such as a fleece or extra jumper?

I remember my own daughter would frequently strip down to her t-shirt on the coldest of days I know that children just dont feel the cold like adults do.

 

I would agree that you need to sit with your parents to decide on agreed boundaries for the child. remind the parent that three year olds are at an age were they want to test boundaries, especially mothers love and those that care on a regular basis, children want to know that they are loved even when they run round outside with no coat on and the quickest way to make a problem worse is to tackle it head on with force.

 

on the subject of forcing children againgst their wishes....

I know that we have to respect childrens rights and parents wishes but our over all duty is to protect the child, if the child is not at risk then there is no legitimate reason to force a child against their wishes. however at the age of three it would also have to be questioned whether the child can make an informed choice on every aspect of their care? there are going to be times when the rules have to be enforced.

 

some parents want children to attend nursery because they want us to do the parenting instead of them.

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  • 1 month later...

If it was really cold I would let the child make the decision between playing outside with coat on, or coming back into school into the warmth to play.

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  • 3 weeks later...

on the subject of forcing children against their wishes

 

when a child needs the toilet and refuses to go.... should we force him to the toilet where he will actually do a wee? or do we leave him to wet and flood the play area causing a hygiene problem for other children and a staff problems sorting out changing the child and cleaning the room,

 

We didnt feel happy forcing him under protest to go to the toilet but the alternative of a flood was worse..... we've asked his parents to check with his docter that he hasnt go a chill or somthing, and for the short term put him back into pullups untill he is willing to go to the toilet again.

 

We dont feel happy with taking this step backwards but we dont like the battle to get him to go to the toilet or the hourly floods either.

 

its there some other tactic I havent considered.....

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If it was really cold I would let the child make the decision between playing outside with coat on, or coming back into school into the warmth to play.

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Although then you might have lots of children who wanted to come in :) or who alternatively never wanted to play outside. And sometimes staffing/supervision issues mean that you need to have all staff outside. Just a thought though :D .

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Bubblejack - the child has been with us since september 05 wearing nappies, when he started mum told us he was dry at home but she put him in nappies while he was out, so he wore nappies at preschool until mum took him out of nappies at christmas (he was then 2 1/2)

 

at first he was asking to go to the toilet but having the odd accident as well, which we expect. As with other children, we would prompt him to go to the toilet and "try" but he refuses to go and when we do take him to the toilet (against his will) he will stand at the toilet and while he is "doing" still say "i dont need a wee" which makes us question whether he knows when he needs to go or has it just been lucky timing? forcing him to the toilet regularly might keep him dry during sessions but its also making him anxious which will probably cause more problems in the long term,

 

he drinks an awful lot before sessions and "wees" more than any child I have ever known not just once but 2 or 3 times in a 2.5 hour session which makes us think that there is possibly another problem

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My daughter is 2 and she drinks loads. She seems to be permanently thirsty. I have taken her to my GP and to our Health Visitor, but they are not concerned about the amount she drinks. It seems she is just a thirsty toddler, as she is very active. I wouldn't rule out the possibility of other problems, but I would be inclined to look at the child's level of activity and to maybe monitor the times when he is more thirsty, for example after physical play maybe?

 

The other possibility is that maybe the child is hungry and is filling up on drinks as way of filling his tummy? I have known many children who have refused to eat meals after they have drunk all or most of their drink because they are too full up and simply not hungry anymore.

 

Just a thought, anyway!

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I just think its so confusing for a child to wear a nappy in different situations. When children come in nappy's or pull ups I always ask parents to tell me what stage they have reached with the toilet training. Most say that it would be great if I could find time to take their child to the toilet. When I find that the child is dry between hourly visits I ask them to put the child in underwear and the child rarely wets themself. Giving the parents the confidence to carry this out at home is hard.

In this situation I ask parents to take their child to the toilet before they leave them. I usually ask the child to go a few times during the morning i.e. before snack. Maybe this child is going more than the norm because he is anxious. Is he able to take responsibility and go himself at set times to co-incide with the routine.

Some children just don't like using an unfamiliar toilet and this can cause problems.

I also have a child that wees more than any child I have ever known. He is visiting the toilet throughout the session. I have repeatedly mentioned this to his mum but she hasn't noticed?????

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