Childcare Expert Advice Scenarios


What should I do about my toddler’s tantrums? How can I ensure my three year old learns to eat healthily? Should I be worried if my young child has an imaginary friend? These are just a few of the questions parents of young children may ask but often it is hard to find practical, non-judgemental advice.

As part of the DfES Early Years and Childcare campaign, we have spoken to a number of Early Years and Childcare workers, from childminders to nursery managers and asked them to provide advice in response to a range of common problems faced by parents. Early Years and Childcare workers can offer valuable tips to parents due to their experience in working with large numbers of children.

Childcare expert scenarios

Every morning before school I do battle with my children to get them up, washed and dressed. For some reason they hate it and it’s really beginning to stress me out. The constant fights before the day has barely begun are awful. What can I do?

In my experience working in childcare, I have found that a good way to get children to do something they don’t want to do is to make the whole process a game. You could try getting the children to have a race to see ‘who can get dressed the quickest’, and you could keep score and the winner can choose a treat or activity to do at the weekend, such as going to the park. As soon as you introduce a competitive element, you will be surprised how quickly children can get themselves organised!

I need some advice; my four year old will not go to bed. Every night we have the same problems and it is really wearing. If I let him stay up, my eldest child gets cross that her younger brother goes to bed at the same time as her and she starts complaining. How can I get my little boy to go to bed?

In my experience working with children I have found that a good way of getting them to go to bed is by getting them into a routine each night. You could try to start your child’s routine a little earlier than their bedtime, bath them and encourage a bit of quiet time before bed. Agree to read them a story or listen to calming lullabies, then tuck them into bed and leave them. Initially it can be helpful to offer an incentive to get them to follow the routine, such as letting them have a friend over to play or going to a park. If you are consistent, you should find that over time your child will enjoy his bedtime routine but you will have to be patient and expect some setbacks whilst you are establishing the routine.

After initial unwillingness, my little girl goes to bed. However, it’s not long before she comes back downstairs under one pretence or another. Usually she says she needs a drink or she can’t sleep and she does this three or four times a night. The next morning she is always ratty and tired, what can I do?

I expect the reason why she keeps coming down is because you pay her attention and like everyone, she likes the extra attention. What I suggest you do when she comes downstairs is get up and take her straight back to bed. Don’t engage in any conversation and keep contact minimal. The aim is to be firm without being harsh. Put her back into bed and then leave her. You need to be prepared to do this quite a few times at first, but eventually she will understand the boundaries you have set for her and will give up creeping back downstairs.

I’m really worried about the behaviour of my two-year-old son. He has starting trying to hit people whenever he doesn’t get his own way. How can I show him that this behaviour is wrong?

When young toddlers try to hit people, they do not realise the harm they are doing. Often, they are simply trying to gain your attention. In my experience working with children, I have found that a good way to respond to this behaviour is to gently take a child’s hand whenever they try to hit someone, and say “Please don’t hit people because it hurts them”. If you continually repeat this message, over time they usually learn to avoid hurting people. You should always use your judgement as a parent to decide which solution is best for your child, but another technique I have found successful is distracting children from their anger by encouraging them to move onto another activity or play with a toy instead of hitting.

My three-year-old daughter has invented an imaginary friend who she is always talking about. I am worried this sort of behaviour is bad for her. Should I try to discourage it?

There is nothing wrong with a child having an imaginary friend, as it can be healthy for children to stretch their imaginations in this way. In my experience, children tend to eventually grow out of it and move onto other things. In the meantime, make sure you provide your child with plenty of opportunities to play with real friends so that she learns the value of real friendships. I have found this approach to be successful, however it does of course depend on individual circumstances.

Interested in Working with Children?

The DfES has been running a national Early Years and Childcare recruitment campaign since July 2000, which aims to encourage people to consider a career in Early Years and Childcare. To support the expansion of childcare services it is estimated that thousands of people need to be recruited to work in Early Years and Childcare by 2008. If you want to find out more information on a career in Early Years and Childcare visit or call the helpline 0800 99 66 00.

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