As parents, we want the best care possible for our children. This can make choosing appropriate childcare for your son or daughter time consuming, but rest assured—if you do your homework, you're likely to find a suitable setting for your little one. Parents often look for a checklist of things in a childcare setting such as a center's fees, drop off and pick up times, location, religious or educational affiliations, meals, CPR and First Aid certification, and discipline techniques. Yet there is another factor to ponder while doing your search: finding a facility that will mesh with your child's individual temperament.
Defining Your Child's Temperament
Temperament consists of traits that are genetic and determined by unique neurological characteristics. There are many different types of temperament; the extrovert, for example, is expressive and energized by his environment and other people, while the introvert is naturally reserved and prefers being alone with his thoughts and ideas. If your child has an easy or flexible temperament, he is generally happy and prefers routine but can readily adapt to new situations. Children that are classified as slow to warm, or fearful, need time to adapt to new settings and people. They need a routine for security, plus they need an adult they can depend on to help them with difficult situations.
There are other classifications of temperament as well, including feisty, active, social, spontaneous, non-conformist, intuitive, and perceptive. Once you have determined your child's temperament, the question is how to find childcare that will be appropriate for your child. If you have a daughter who is constantly on the go, should you look for a place that will keep her busy all of the time? If your son tends to be a bit laid back, do you keep him strictly involved with low-key activities?
Finding a Good Match
Renowned parenting expert Stacy DeBroff, author of several parenting books including Mom Book: 4278 of Mom Central's Tips--For Moms from Moms, says that the best idea for matching a daycare to your child is to try for something that is opposite of your child's temperament without being extreme or making him or her unhappy.
"For a very active child, the best childcare will offer some periods of free time, but it should also be a place where the child will have some pacing in his schedule," says DeBroff. If you happen to have a shy or reserved child, consider a place that has required social activities. This setting will help draw him out of his shell as well as push his comfort level. "For most shy kids, avoiding contact with other children isn't a realistic option unless you are willing to spring for a private nanny," says DeBroff. "It is good for a child's social development to be exposed to other children while in a controlled setting with controlled activities."