Overcoming Fear in Decision-Making: Insights from a Child Care Business Podcast

In the most recent episode of ChildCare Conversations. We delved into the fear of potential negative outcomes and how it can hinder decision-making in our businesses. This blog post aims to share the insights and lessons we discussed, particularly focusing on the fear of losing valuable staff and the potential impact on revenue.

The Paralysis of Fear

During our conversation, Carrie expressed her concerns about various worst-case scenarios that could occur in her personal life and business. From health issues affecting her longevity to decisions that could upset teachers or parents, leading to a cascade of negative consequences. Kate agreed with her sentiment, acknowledging that dwelling on “what ifs” can be paralyzing and counterproductive.

Fear Setting: A Tool for Decision Making

We introduced the concept of fear setting, a term coined by Tim Ferriss. Fear setting is a technique used in goal setting or when feeling stuck. It involves identifying and evaluating the potential negative outcomes of a decision or situation.

To illustrate this, Carrie shared an example of a staff member who believed she was indispensable to the program and demanded a significant pay increase while reducing her workload. She stood her ground and refused the unreasonable request, but the staff member spread rumors that Carrie was forcing her to quit.

If Carrie had succumbed to fear and believed that the staff member’s departure would lead to a mass exodus of enrolled children, it could have had severe financial implications for the business. However, she emphasized the importance of not letting fear dictate decisions.

Overcoming Worst-Case Scenarios

Kate suggested that if I were to lose 20 kids to a new program, Carrie would have three months to fill those spots and hire new staff. Your program has more resources and a budget to find someone who can engage with parents and be a marketing asset for the program.

Carrie emphasized the importance of going through the entire story and considering the potential outcomes for both parties. This approach helps to alleviate fear and encourages proactive problem-solving.

Dealing with Late Parents

They then shifted the discussion to another common fear in childcare businesses – dealing with chronically late parents. Carrie advised people not to let the fear of having an uncomfortable conversation with a parent hold them back from enforcing necessary boundaries.

Addressing Problems Early On

Carrie concluded by emphasizing the importance of addressing problems early on and having clear policies in place to avoid difficult situations. She encouraged me to proactively reach out to people on the waiting list and inform parents in the classroom about the available spots.

The Importance of Documentation

Kate and Carrie agreed on the importance of knowing the contents of employee handbooks and standard operating procedures. We suggested printing and attaching important emails to these procedures to avoid forgetting important information.

The Value of Dialogue

We also discussed the value of having someone to dialogue with during fear-setting exercises. This person can ask questions about the next steps and the implications for all parties involved. If a person doesn’t have someone to talk to or is hesitant to admit their faults, we suggested using AI, like ChatGPT, to go through the process.

Late-Paying Parents

Finally, we addressed the issue of late-paying parents. We reminded listeners that, as business owners, it’s important to prioritize their boundaries and not feel guilty about letting go of parents who can’t pay for the services provided.


In conclusion, Kate and Carrie encourage all childcare business owners to do fear-setting exercises when faced with difficult decisions. It’s crucial not to let fear dictate your decisions and to address problems early on. Remember, you have the resources and the ability to overcome any challenges that come your way.