Childcare can be a great adventure. However, when you’re leaving your child there, the experience is often difficult for both you and the child. Use these parenting tips to ensure your child’s transition is as smooth as possible. In turn, your mindset will be much better.
- Let your children know what to expect. Your kids are used to the rhythm of your family life, and childcare disrupts that. They’ll be confronted with new rules and routines. Explain that while you are at work, they will be having fun. Say that they will make new friends and play with lots of cool toys. If possible, visit the childcare with your children prior to the start date and have them meet the teacher and get a feel for the place. That may not be enough, and a photo book with pictures taken during that visit will help remind the child of what to expect. However, don’t treat this as some huge ordeal or change. Another idea is to read a couple of books about childcare adventures to your children.
- Practice consistency. This is probably the most critical of these parenting tips. If the first day of drop-off goes terribly, shrug it off and start fresh the next day. And the next. Before you know it, a new routine has been established, and your child is looking forward to childcare. Avoid pulling your child out if the first hand-off (or subsequent ones) go badly. This serves to tell the child he can sidestep negative feelings and also puts him in control.
- Keep goodbyes and hellos snappy. This area is particularly important for consistency. When you say goodbye, say something like: “Goodbye for now. I will be back after nap time to get you. I hope you have a fun day!” or “Bye for now. See you later, alligator!” Turn and leave. Don’t look back or linger. Definitely don’t sneak off without informing your child you are leaving. When you do return after work, point out that you are back, exactly as you said you would be. Your child will get the message that these goodbyes are by no means permanent.
- Enlist the teacher’s help. Write or type a bulleted list for the teacher that gives her the lowdown on your child’s life at home. For example, include information on when your child eats, sleeps and uses the bathroom. Also include personal touches such as your child’s favorite color, story, games and songs. Of vital importance is to highlight any allergies your child may have and methods you use to calm your child. The teacher can take advantage of your parenting tips to keep your child happy.
- Let your child choose a “buddy” to bring from home. The “buddy,” which could be a photo, blanket, doll, cup or pretty much anything, will make the child feel more at home and will function as an emotional support of sorts. After some time passes, the child probably will no longer need the “buddy.”
- Stay away. This means no surprise drop-ins and resisting the temptation to call every more than twice a day. You must trust the childcare to contact you if an emergency occurs. Remember that children are intuitive and read moods well. You being anxious will give your child anxiety that wasn’t there or fuel further anxiety. Give your child’s distress at childcare about two weeks to a month to subside.
- Remember your child adores you whether saying goodbye is easy or tough for them; whether they rush to you when you come to pick them up or tell you to wait a minute, they aren’t ready to go. Sometimes younger children have NO problem with goodbye the first week or so- pre-school is a grand adventure. But they may begin to cry after two weeks or so when they realize this is an everyday thing. Wanting to stay means they are Very secure: you’ve found the right place and they know you will always be there. If either event happens, know that it’s normal, and follow the tips above.
Following these parenting tips should result in relatively smooth hand-offs. However, if the tears and tantrums are especially severe and persist more than a month, have someone else take your child to childcare for a few days.