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A Halloween Costume?… in January? Really?

Posted by on in Early Childhood
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Have you ever had a parent bring his child into your early childhood program inappropriately dressed? The parent then sighs a deep sigh. “Can you please see that she gets these clothes on? She just wouldn’t get dressed this morning.” Or, how about the child who brings in his favorite toy and the rules are “no toys except on Sharing Day.” Another deep sigh. “You can take this away, if you want. I just couldn’t get him to leave it in the car.”

And, this isn’t the first time, by any means. What were your immediate thoughts? Did they include things like:

  • Why can’t these parents stand their ground?
  • Why should I have to step in and do this?
  • Can’t this parent act like a parent?
  • Why is she making me the bad guy in all of this?



Chances are, all of these thoughts run through our heads and it is aggravating. I remember feeling this way myself, until one day, as I sat taking off a child's flimsy Halloween costume and putting on his pants and sweater so he could play outside (it was January), I replayed his mother's words in my head: "Nathan wanted to wear this today and he just wouldn't get on his clothes or even his coat. Can you make sure he does?"

It suddenly occurred to me that here was a mother who was looking to me for help...who trusted my experience and way with young children to be able to do what she was unable to do. I could now see that this was actually a compliment, if I looked at it this way. I realized that if I wanted to do the most good, I would do what she asked in her presence, so she could see how it was done... be a role model, just as I was every day without thinking for her child.


Parenting isn't easy. What had been easy was my criticism of parents who were having a tough time. Being blunt with them or seething on the inside while I begrudgingly performed the task at hand was not doing either of us any good. I reminded myself that I was a professional and as such, I would embrace the whole child, and that included his parents.


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Debra Pierce is professor of Early Childhood Education at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana. Ivy Tech is the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college systems, serving nearly 200,000 students annually.

Her professional background has always involved children, over the past 40 years, having been a primary grades teacher in the Chicago Public School system, a teacher of 3 and 4 year-olds in a NAEYC accredited preschool for 15 years, and a certified Parent Educator for the National Parents as Teachers Program.

Debra is a certified Professional Development Specialist for the Council for Professional Recognition. She has taught CDA courses to high school career/tech dual credit juniors and seniors in preparation for earning their CDA credentials. She also conducts CDA train-the-trainer events across the country and develops and teaches online CDA courses for several states, is a frequent presenter at national and state early childhood conferences, and is a Master Trainer for the states of Minnesota and Arizona. She was also awarded the NISOD Teaching Excellence Award by the University of Texas.

Debra is active in her community, supporting children's literacy and is on the board of directors of First Book in Indianapolis. Debra is a contributing author for Hamilton County Family Magazine and Indy's Child in Indianapolis.
She loves spending time with her two grandsons, Indy, who is 6 and Radley, almost 3.

Debra has spent the last 16 years dedicated to the success of those pursuing the CDA credential and is the author of The CDA Prep Guide: The Complete Review Manual for the Child Development Associate Credential, now in its third edition (Redleaf Press), the only publication of its kind. She hosts a website providing help and support to CDA candidates and those who train them at http://www.easycda.com
The comments and views expressed are not in collaboration or affiliation with The Council for Professional Recognition or Ivy Tech Community College.
Follow me on Twitter at /easycda

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Guest Tuesday, 25 October 2016