DEAR ABBY: As a child-care provider for many years, I would like to offer some advice to “Child-Care Pro in New Jersey,” who is stumped about what to do when Mom (or Dad) comes to pick up the children and they start acting up.

Sometimes children are confused about how to act when their parent arrives. The day-care provider can help by beginning to discuss ahead of time what will be said the minute Mom or Dad arrives. “Let’s tell Mom about that neat picture you made today,” or, “Tell Mom how you used good words to tell Jeff how you felt instead of hitting him.”

When Mom walks in the door, be ready with positive things to say. She is probably mentally and physically tired at that point and needs all the help she can get to make it a good transition.

I agree with you, Abby, the child-care provider should step in if the children begin acting up – and the children should be warned that you’ll use discipline if you need to. If the moment Mom walks in, the adults begin talking among themselves, that’s the time kids act up. Mom should be told you’ll call her later with any news. This is a kid’s time to talk to Mom. – LOVES KIDS IN OREGON

Those are good suggestions, and thank you for them. Now let’s hear it from some other child-care professionals:

DEAR ABBY: Having worked in child care more than 20 years, the best advice I can offer is this: When the misbehaving starts, ask the parent, “Would you like to handle this or do you want me to?” That way, you acknowledge the misbehavior and the fact that it must be dealt with, without undermining the parent.

Waiting until the next day to discipline the child would serve no useful purpose. – ANOTHER PRO IN HENDERSON, TENN.

I agree.

DEAR ABBY: It is not unusual for children to act up when the parents arrive. Here’s how I handle it:

I talk to the children about their behavior before their parents get here. I have them ready to go so there’s no chance for them to misbehave. And I offer them a reward – like a healthy snack – to take with them if they get ready to go without a fuss. – BEEN THERE IN PENNSYLVANIA

Way to go! I see nothing wrong with providing an incentive for good behavior.

DEAR ABBY: Since I was a kid I’ve loved basketball. I’ve played it since the fourth grade, and now I’m planning to participate in the Special Olympics. My goal is to become a professional player. Mom always told me that whatever I hope to achieve, I can make it happen. All I have to do is put my mind to it and not give up. The possibilities are endless.

When people out there tell me I’m stupid or an idiot, I respond by saying that I have good coping skills and a lot of potential. I like myself and I care about others.

My message to anyone with a disability is this: Tell yourself you can be an achiever and say to yourself, “I’m going to make something of myself” – and it will happen. – DETERMINED TO SUCCEED IN TACOMA

Thank you for sharing your philosophy. It applies to everyone, not just people with disabilities. A person who has a goal to pursue is far better off than a person who has none.

Your mother deserves to be commended for being a terrific role model and teacher. Give her a hug for me.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips.

Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

To receive a collection of Abby’s most memorable – and most frequently requested – poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby — Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.