If we look at a normal workday with the children: In what activities can we pay more attention to responding to the children when they want contact?
Mutual contact: Do we have activities every day in small groups where we pay much attention to mutual contact between a caregiver and 4-6 children (singing, playing, etc.)? How can we make mutual contact activities with the babies while doing practical tasks?
Being sensitive :Think of a daily task and think of how one specific child reacts to something it is supposed to do (eat, dress, etc.). What is the best way to motivate this specific child to do the task? How can you be sensitive towards this child –what caregiver behaviour gives the best result?
Being accessible to the child: If a child needs our attention or help (afraid, insecure, unhappy, in pain), how long does it have to wait before we help? There are no demands from the caregiver about how you should act to get help, you get if if you need it. If there are many children and few caregivers, what can we do to overcome this problem, so that we are accessible as much as possible?
Feel with the child, not like the child: When a child is uncomfortable, angry, constantly arguing, irritated or has a temper tantrum: How does the feelings of the child affect us and make us respond? How can we pay attention to what happens to us and be calm, firm and kind even though the child is unreasonable or too excited? What children can make us angry or irritated? How can we pay special attention not to feel like those children?
Reflecting the thoughts and feelings of the child: How can we talk to the children while we work with them?For example: When we perform a task with a child, we also talk about what we see happening in the child: “Now you are going to play with this toy – I can see that you are a little afraid of it because you have never seen this toy before – that’s okay, let’s have a look at it together” or “Now you are drinking from your bottle, you are really hungry, it’s so nice to eat, that makes you happy, doesn’t it?”, etc.
- Discuss how you can improve the ways you relate to children (mutual contact, sensitivity, etc.).
- Find everyday examples and discuss how you can make improvements in relations work.
- Discuss especially what problems there may be in improving relations work (“we are too busy, it is difficult to do something new, there are so many children and so few caregivers”, etc.) and discuss how you can overcome some of these problems.
- Discuss how old negative attitudes can prevent you from practicing secure caregiver behavior:
- “My parents always used to scold me, how can I avoid doing this when I work?”
- “As a professional you should not have personal relations with the children”
- “We don’t have time and energy to do all this”
- “If the children start getting attached to me, they will be sad when I leave and I will be sad”
All these attitudes have something true in them, nevertheless you should drop them, they are not good for child development. Yes, if you did not receive good care from your own parents you must exercise being a good caregiver, but you can do that.
Having personal relations with children and letting them get attached to you is part of the professional job. Yes, children will be sad when you leave if you allow them to attach, but this is part of life and much better for them than if they never learn to have a personal relation with a caregiver.
Working with orphans, you are also a “parental attachment figure”.
- ‘Maybe we should divide our work so that we are busy some of the time and not very accessible, and other times during the day where we show the children that now we are very accessible and have time to give them attention’
- ‘We have many children per caregiver, so some of the time we decide to have all of them together in groups, at other times we give individual attention to one child at a time. F. ex., every afternoon we make an activity where we care for one child at a time while the other children watch’
- Choose one of the competences and discuss how you will improve work until next session.
- Decide what practices you will try to make better and what activities/ time of the day you will do it.
- Plan how you will observe or video record your improvements. Start by observing your normal practice and how the children respond, and your new practices and how the children respond.
- Write down what you have just discussed and decided to do and who will do it.
If you wish to do some self evaluation you can open and print this small quiz here below. The solutions are written in the bottom of the page, so maybe it´s a good idea to fold the paper or cover the solutions before you start.
Open the document here
Thank you for your interest and good luck with your work until next session!