Unlearning a decade of training and thinking

I’ve been doing daycare for seven months now. I’ve been formally trained on “the safest ways to interact with children and adults” since I was 18 (which is a decade now).

All of my formal training tells me “don’t touch people for too long so you won’t get sued”. If a child is crying, it’s okay to pat them on the back a few times but not hug them. If it’s an adult, you probably just shouldn’t ever touch them at all. After all, a vulnerable adult doesn’t know the difference between good touch and bad touch. My first human services job was when I was a freshman in college working with kids who have behavioral problems. Then I spent some time as a Music Ed major. I spent some time in the classroom observing. I’ve worked with adults with mental illness. I’ve worked in church nurseries and babysat kids. In all of that time, I’ve been training myself to avoid touch.

Because of this training, sometimes I provide inadequate care since I forget that touch is SSSOOOO important to young kids to help comfort them and to help them cope. I feel like such an idiot when I have these epiphanies of things I should already know. In my head I KNOW kids need touch. But I have to fight my learning that tells me “don’t touch”.

I’ve just started a wonderful little girl in my daycare who has never known the daycare life. She needs lots of comfort and I haven’t been providing what she needs. I’ve been trying to play, to distract, to talk, to not talk, to give her time – everything but give her some hugs and some cuddles to help cope. That JUST occurred to me today, eight days into her time with me. IT TOOK EIGHT DAYS FOR THAT TO EVEN OCCUR TO ME! Today has been the best day we’ve had thus far because I am now giving her what she needs.

I know I need to be easier on myself because this is new. Working with really young kids is very new to me. I know I have access to lots of free training on the web but I haven’t taken advantage yet. I’m just making excuses about being too busy. I know that I need to learn more about kids and what they need. I need to educate myself more on what I’m doing and how to provide the best care. Making it up as I go along isn’t good enough.

The good thing about these feel-like-an-idiot epiphanies is that they generally shock me into being more intentional again. I want to live an intentional life but sometimes I just put too much on my plate and I get caught up in just surviving from day to day. We all do that, I’m sure. However, I know that God’s best plan and life for me includes being more intentional about how I’m living. To LIVE and not just survive.

So what’s my next step? I am going to contact a provider I know and ask for the link to all the training she has access to now that I’ve long since thrown away any paperwork regarding licensing a daycare. I am going to take the time to look into that training and then take advantage of it! I am going to learn about working with small children. I am going to start providing much better care. These little children are the most precious things in their parents’ universe. They deserve the best I can give and I am committed once again to doing that. It’s time to be intentional again.

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