How to deal with hard conversations in your childcare business

How to deal with hard conversations in your childcare business

I’ll bet my morning coffee that you’ve had several hard conversations to handle in the last month or so. Am I right?! Sometimes it might have been with a member of your team, it might even have been with someone in your family…but what do you do when it’s with a parent?

As a childcare business owner these conversations are not uncommon! You don’t have to have been in business very long before you find yourself in the awkward situation of needing to have an uncomfortable conversation with a parent. It may be something that sounds super simple, but you never know what it could turn into.

Recently I’ve been asked in my Facebook group about how to handle these tricky moments and I thought a blog post might help!

What do you mean by “hard conversations”?

Ok, so these are the conversations that you might freeze up in, or avoid having altogether. You know the ones?! The time a grandma comes to pick up their little one and they are more soaked than a rum cake. Or in winter when a pre-schooler is brought in wearing inappropriate jelly shoes and a sundress, with no coat. Or one of your parents smokes right outside the window, despite the sign you’ve displayed…

These are sometimes what you might describe as “teachable moments”. When the person you’re speaking with might not know what they’re doing or saying is wrong.  Often this might be with a new team member or a family who’s new to my day cares. And it’s my job as a professional to set them straight and to help them see things from my perspective.

Other times, a different approach is needed.  It’s important to address this because you will find these conversations come up. Ones that you don’t want to tackle but will need to.

What do you do if…

One of the Childcare Ninjas in my Facebook group asked me last week about something quite specific, so I thought I’d also share it here. It illustrates the exact kind of hard conversation many of you might have to have in your role as a childcare business owner.  So the question I received was, “Hey Miss Nyckie! What do you do when a parent has come to your center smelling of Marijuana or seems intoxicated, how do I handle these things?”


In a situation like this your first priority is the safety of the child. You need to make sure you protect the child in your care above all else. You’re in “loco parentis”, which means you’re totally responsible in that moment. As a business owner, it all comes back on you.

What you do next matters because what if someone comes back and asks, “Why did you let the child go with a person in that state?”

So here’s how to handle it

In this situation (or others like it) you want to immediately assess:

1. The danger or potential danger of the child (make sure the child is in a safe position).

2. Your own protection as an individual and as a business owner.

3. What options do you have to handle this situation?

Those are a few of the things you must consider in an uncomfortable situation, that could potentially turn into something worse.

we can't be afraid to have hard conversations

Be prepared

The best way to deal with hard conversations it to be ahead of the game! Make sure you’re as prepared as possible so that these conversations are less likely to occur in the first place. I’d advise that you have something in your Parental Contract wording that covers things like this and ensure that all of your parents read and sign off. You can then parrot the information at them when they break the rules they agreed to. It makes your job easier!

Another thing you need to take into consideration is covering yourself. By making sure that you cover all bases, you’re protecting everything you’ve spent time building. After all, this is your business, your livelihood and legacy! You want to protect it as much as possible. Look into insurance thoroughly.

one must prepare for any event schitts creek

Tips for hard conversations

When these situations crop up, we can easily fall into “I’m the boss” mode. You’re the expert. They’re the parent. You make the rules here. However, as much as an authoritarian manner can be useful occasionally, this can also be like a red rag to a bull.

I recommend that you take a deep breath and try to stay calm. Run through points 1 to 3 above. Try to make sure you have a witness to the conversation. Lay out the law of the land in a respectful and composed way that won’t incite any bad feeling.

I’m going to be talking you more about this sort of difficult circumstance during tonight’s live, so why don’t you join me

I think we should have that hard conversation - VP Harris

Have you been in an awkward situation before? How did you handle it?

Supporting you is top of my priorities, so head on over and join my free Facebook group, where I help childcare business owners step into their leadership like the ninjas they are! We can do hard things!

We’re an army of childcare professionals who are sharing ninja-sharp skills to transform our businesses into childcare empires! This is Childcare Ownership all Grownup! Interested in becoming more involved in the community and to grow your business? Join us for more tips on how to make your childcare business the success it deserves to be! Or if you prefer Instagram, we share ideas and tips there too!

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