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Dear Care and Feeding,
I work in a day care where I observed teachers teasing and laughing at a 16-month-old little boy because he only wants to wear a diaper. He takes off all of the rest of his clothes and, I was told, “He’s always done this.” Apparently, the behavior stopped for a while, but now has reappeared.
Last week, he was taken from the young toddlers’ room, placed with the infants, and told he had to stay with the babies unless he kept his clothes on. I am very concerned about humiliating a child in this way. What to do?
—Shame on Them
That sounds like an awful way to approach a not-uncommon toddler behavior. What is your role at this facility? Who are the people making these choices? If you are in the position to speak up directly to them, you absolutely should. Acknowledge their frustration (with having to do their job, I suppose) but explain why their approach is so bad: shaming does not work, can harm a child, has no place in such a setting, etc. If you cannot speak to them yourself in such a way, involve someone who is in charge. Let them know your concerns; I’d imagine the parent(s) would not be happy if they knew this is how their son’s latest quirk is being handled by people paid to take care of him.
If this sort of thing is coming from the top—say, from the program director or owner—then unfortunately, it seems like this is the company culture and your options are to either do what you can to influence it for the better or to seek a new place to work. Hopefully, this is just a couple of employees who can be either be retrained or replaced. Whatever you do, know that your instincts are correct and this is a terrible way for a child to be treated.