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How to Build a Strong Relationship with your Caregiver

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Outside of their parents, the relationship your child has with their caregiver will be one of their most important during their childhood years. It’s only natural that you—as the parent—would want to develop just as strong of a relationship with that caregiver, too. 

Building a strong relationship with your caregiver is beneficial in so many ways, but especially when it comes to sharing those day-to-day details that contribute to your child’s growth and development. Creating consistency, aligning on responsibilities, and working towards common goals for your child are all easier when you and your caregiver are on the same page.

But while your child likely spends hours a day with their caregiver and has ample opportunity to work on that relationship, parents often get much less facetime. And that facetime is usually during child care pickups and drop-offs, which can be hectic, chaotic, and don’t lend themselves well to fully coherent conversations.

That doesn’t mean you can’t create a strong relationship, or even a friendship, with the people you trust to care for your child. Here are five ways to build a stronger relationship with your child’s caregiver:

1. Prioritize pickup or drop-off as often as your schedule allows.

If you’re able to make it work, try to pick up and drop off your child with their caregiver. That twice-daily facetime with caregivers will allow you a chance to connect in real life and start to build the foundation of a regular relationship. Even if it’s a just a quick handoff, drop-off and pickup gives you an opportunity to quickly exchange details about your child, and stay in the loop about their daily goals, accomplishments and struggles. That face to face connection also shows your child that you trust your caregiver, which can help reduce separation anxiety.

2. Show care and respect.

Model the type of care and respect you’d like your child to show your caregiver—and any other person they meet. Take the time to make eye contact and say hello and goodbye. Ask them how they’re doing, and listen to the answer. We know mornings are bleary-eyed—maybe you haven’t even had your latte yet! But a few moments of kind greetings can not only help you build a strong relationship with your caregiver, but also help start their day with a smile. 

The same goes for pickup time…even when you’re in a rush. A simple, “Thank you for your work today, have a great evening,” shows you value the hard work they do all day. Let your child chime in with their own goodbye ritual, and even add a hug or high five, if it’s comfortable. Bonus: children thrive on routine, and this goodbye ritual is a great way to support their learning.

3. Volunteer to help out or visit during the day.

While we know that not every job allows for a daily daycare visit, try to build in some time to drop by your child care provider every so often to help out. Even if your program isn’t a co-op, volunteer to help at lunch time, or come by and read a special book with your child’s class. You can even offer to help the staff prep or clean during off-hours when students are not in session. Taking some work off of your caregiver’s plate will likely go a long way towards showing you care—and it also gives you more opportunity to get to know them and see them in action.

4. Ask about things other than your child.

Your caregiver has a whole entire life outside of their work with your child! The best way you can get to know your caregiver, or strengthen the relationship you already have, is to acknowledge that they’re more than a caregiver, they’re also a human. Ask your caregiver what they like to do in their free time: Are they a foodie? Do they rewire vintage speakers? Maybe they’re into film photography? Remember: not every caregiver is comfortable revealing life outside your child care’s doors, so be respectful of their boundaries. 

5. Remember you’re on the same team.

In the best shared relationship, your caregiver should feel comfortable being honest about your child’s learning, behavior and development. While it’s not always easy to hear feedback that’s less than glowing, try to receive information about your child with an open mind, and remember you and your caregivers are working towards the same goal: how to best support and nurture your child’s growth.

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