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Tips for Transitioning your Child to Daycare

Preparing your Child for a Positive Daycare experience

Is your toddler entering a childcare program for the first time? The transition from being home with mom or another family member to being in a daycare setting can be traumatic for a toddler, even when the caregivers are top notch and the environment is loving. To help your toddler (and you!) with the transition, Little Tots Childcare will share tips on how to start daycare on the right foot.

“I miss Mommy and Daddy!”

No matter whether you’ve been a babysitter for three months, or a nanny for 3 years, every child care provider has heard this cry before — it’s usually accompanied by a trembling lower lip and a running nose. Although it can strike at any time, you’re most likely to hear it at the start of a new job, in the immediate wake of a boo boo, or right before bedtime. Sometimes, the child is too young to talk and can’t express what’s going on. Other times, they’re able to iterate their feelings exactly: They “miss mommy and daddy.”

1) Don’t Take It Personally

Even though a kid misses their parents, that doesn’t mean that your doing a bad job. This can be hard to remember, especially if the child chooses to express their sadness by lashing out at you, the replacement. Try not to get defensive, or take what your child might say mid-tantrum too personally. A slow, part time introduction to the daycare or preschool environment works best for many kids ,preparation goes a long way to easing a child’s concerns” starting 2 weeks prior to an official start is best especially if a child has not been introduced to a playgroup or daycare setting.

2) Set a positive tone

Your own attitude can do a lot to set the stage for your toddler, be careful about transferring anxiety onto kids: “Make sure that you are not sharing any anxiety that you feel onto your child. They will pick [it] up — if Mommy is unsure than the child will be unsure.” Your excitement and positive energy about the daycare centre is important, as well as with your child’s teachers. When it comes to starting daycare, what you say and how you say it really matters: “DO NOT say you will miss her. She will feel bad that you are missing her.  Just show her you are happy for her and confident in the situation.”

3) Don’t linger

An overwhelming number of both moms and childcare providers who weigh in on this this topic say it’s best to establish a simple, quick routine at drop-off time. We recommend that you “make your goodbyes quick even if she’s crying and yelling… It may sound clinical, perhaps even cold, but lingering to try and quell her sadness and fears makes it worse.”

Our advice on the drop-off is to make it quick: “When you drop off in the morning don’t linger… Give her a kiss and a hug, tell her you love her, but do not cling.”

4) Leave a comfort item

Little Tots Childcare suggest giving your child a comfort object to help them during moments of separation anxiety. As a teacher and mom who has gone through this transition many times with many kids, recommends “anything that smells like home” for babies. That might be a lovey, blanket or mom or dad’s T-shirt or other clothing item. A laminated family portrait that an older child can hold onto can help too. plus telling your child “she can keep it safe for you until you get back to pick her up.” This helps children trust and remember “that you will always come back to get her.”

Comfort items don’t necessarily have to be visual. I found found that an audio reminder worked best for my daughter when she started preschool: “I also took her to Build-a-bear and we made a bear of her choice and I recorded my voice Nadia, Mommy Loves you have a great day!’ and that was her animal friend at school…”

5) When they cry…

Even with the best preparation, your child is likely to be upset, at least in the beginning, when you leave him at daycare. This can be a heart-wrenching time of separation anxiety for you and your child, as plenty of moms will vouch. I  believe about 75% of kids “put on the tears for Mum at drop off time,” but that most are fine within minutes: “Its normally about boundaries and trying to get their own way, and sometimes a little anxiety.”

Let your child know that she can always talk to you, no matter what. It’s not always necessary even to have solutions to her problems. Sometimes just talking about things out loud with a trusted adult makes them seem less threatening. And if the situation does become overwhelming for your child, you want to be the first to know about it.”

6) Talk it through

Even the youngest babies will benefit from parents talking through what this new thing called daycare is going to be like. For example, you can say, “Starting tomorrow, we’re going to drop you off at so-and-so’s and there are going to be other babies there, and you’re going to have lunch and play with these toys, and then after nap time and snack, I’m going to come pick you up.”

“The baby is picking up on the cadence and the emotional tone and they’re going to get a sense of reassurance,”. “It gives them a sense of predictability and that everything’s going to be OK.” Repeat the story once daycare starts for continued reassurance.

“So just breathe, mama, breathe.  This transition will sort itself out.  You will be fine.  Baby will be fine.  And each day will bring you a reunion to cherish.”




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  • Child Development
  • Early Education
  • School & Family Life

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