Starting children at Daycare presents a whole set of new challenges. Some adjust quickly and enjoy it from the start while others need a gentler introduction. The good news is that most children will settle down and get used to the new arrangement. There are some things a parent can do however, to help make this transition as stress-free as possible.
- Make sure your child is prepared for this change by talking to them before their first day. Tell them where they will be going, what they will be doing etc.
- Visit the Daycare with your child on a few occasions before you need to leave them for the first time. Show your child where they will be going and introduce them to their carer and perhaps some other children.
- On the first day, arrive a bit early so that you can help your child to settle into an activity before you have to head off. They may be less likely to be upset when you leave if they are having fun and distracted.
- Make sure you take their favourite toy or comforter with them. This can help them relax when it is sleep time or when they are feeling a bit unsure.
- Try to be aware of your body language. If you are feeling anxious and showing that your child will respond by being anxious too. Don’t be hard on your child. Allow them to express their feelings about the new situation.
- Make sure you say goodbye to your child when you leave and don’t sneak out the door while they aren’t looking. This will only increase their separation anxiety. Say the same thing every time you leave so it becomes a ritual they get used to.
- If your child is particularly upset with you leaving, see if your partner or a trusted friend can do drop off instead. This might help until they settle in a bit more.
- Because there is so much change going on, try to avoid making other changes to your child’s routine while getting used to a new child care arrangement. And, as always, consistency is important so stick to their usual routine.
- If after a few weeks, things are still not great, be open to the possibility of an underlying problem. This arrangement may just be a poor choice for your child. This doesn’t necessarily mean that anything bad is occurring, it could be something as simple as a personality conflict between your child and a carer.
It is also great to continue to be involved with your Daycare centre, even after your child has settled in. Dropping in for lunch or the occasional surprise visit can be a treat for your child. Also, be open to discussing any of your concerns with the carers as they might have some insight as to what is going on during the day.
Article by Wattle Health resident expert, Paediatric Nurse, Jo Ryan.