Placing your child in a daycare center is a reality for more and more working parents today.
The idea of leaving your child in the care of others for an extended period of time can be a frightening one to both you and your child. Many parents feel apprehensive about exposing their babies to a new environment, and the situation is only intensified as some children can experience separation anxiety at the thought of being away from their parents for the first time.
Below are a few tips to help both parents and children as they transition to this new daily routine.
- Do your research – Before choosing a daycare environment, it is important for parents to do some investigation. Ask plenty of questions from other parents as well as from the daycare staff. It is also appropriate to ask to “sit-in” to observe the staff in action. By doing some due diligence, parents will feel less anxiety and more confident with their choice in a daycare provider.
- Explain the situation to your child in advance – Sometimes it’s the unexpected that is most frightening to children. You can help the situation by preparing your child for what they will encounter at daycare. Explain to them everything that they will do during their day and everyone that they will meet. Picture books designed to outline the daycare experience to your child can also be a helpful tool
- Try a gradual start – If your schedule will allow it, try easing your child into a daycare setting by enrolling them on a part-time basis. This can either be shorter sessions or for only a couple of days per week. After they get comfortable with their new surroundings, you can incrementally extend the experience. This gradual transition can reduce stress and anxiety for both parent and child.
- Be organized – The pressure of transitioning into daycare can only be intensified when parents are running around at the last second as they look to get out the door. A chaotic environment takes a parents attention away from their child, who might need it. Prepare everything the night before so your trip to daycare can be a calm and relaxed one. Creating a check-list is always a good idea.
- Have your child bring something familiar – A reminder of home will make those first few trips to daycare a little easier and provide comfort on difficult days for an anxious child. Ask your child if they would like to bring their favorite stuffed animal or a cozy blanket with them. These comfort items can reduce the stress associated with going to daycare.
- Invent a goodbye ritual – Families should create a consistent way of saying goodbye to each other to help establish a fuss-free drop off experience. This could be a loving phrase, a secret handshake or special kiss that is shared just between a parent and a child. This ritual will make your child feel special and it will limit prolonged goodbyes.
- Expect some tears – It can take anywhere from one day to a month for a child to adjust to daycare. During this transition it is perfectly natural for your child to cry when you drop them off. While this can be heartbreaking to parents in the moment, understand that children are resilient and a daycare experience can actually help them develop social and adaptation skills.
Following these tips can take what can be a tension-filled time in both your life and the life of your child, and make it into a positive and stress-free experience.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.