Dealing with daycare transitions can be overwhelming for both parents and young children. Here are some tips to help you and your child have a smooth transition.
Think about the Timing and Developmental Stage of Your Child.
Children go through stages of development throughout infancy, toddlerhood, and preschool. Some ages may be tougher than the other ages to start daycare; and older is not necessarily is easier. For example, toddlers are going through a sort of mini-adolescent crisis with new communication skills, separation anxiety, and new understandings of the role of caretakers. Sometimes it could be even harder to start toddlers in daycare than when they are infants. On the other hand, some children show their strong social needs. They seem grow out of parents. It is important to watch the cues of your child and decide a good time to send them to daycare.
Look for a Good Fit for Your Child.
Children are individuals. Each child likes certain environments and settings. It is essential to find a daycare best fits your child’s needs. For example, a child who is easily over-stimulated may have trouble in a big group daycare, but will do well with fewer children at in-home care.
Give Your Child Experience with Other People.
You can imagine how overwhelming new situations must be for young children who have far less experience in dealing with the unknown. We can only help them by providing more experience with other people. Try to arrange some babysitting experience with grandparents, friends and relatives. It is very helpful to give your child experience with the caretakers outside the family and outside your home. Taking them to playgroups and social activities as well.
Get into a Routine Beforehand.
Most people look for daycare at least a few months ahead. Once you assure your daycare arrangement, you could coordinate your child’s daily routine at home with the one he/she is going to have at daycare. For example, if your child is having two naps a day but at daycare children nap once, you could try to shorten or push through his/her morning naps. However, you can always communicate with your daycare provider about your own routines and schedule if you have any concerns. Children will get into a routine when they are comfortable.
Find Playful Ways to Talk about Daycare
Parents can read stories, draw pictures, and sing songs about daycare. There are many children’s books about going to daycare. You can use a couple as your child’s bedtime stories to develop their awareness before the daycare transition starts.
Go Visit Daycare in advance.
People usually start their daycare transitions one or two weeks before the first day. It can simply begin with a couple of short visits or play dates, then perhaps a few half days, then full days. Gradually progressing to full time can help them feel a little less overwhelmed.
Confront Your Own Ambivalent Feelings.
Good feelings are contagious. If you are truly happy and enthusiastic about the daycare arrangement, your child will look forward to it too. It’s normal to feel guilty and anxious about leaving your child to other people, but try to focus on the positive feelings.
Make sure to Say goodbyes.
The parent who “sneaks” away instead of saying goodbye runs the risk of damaging a child’s sense of trust. It is better to offer the security of an explanation, like “Mommy/Daddy has to go to work,” and leave with a kiss and a hug. Children can tell if a parent is not comfortable leaving. If you’re anxious, they will be too. Keep your goodbye nice and short
Explain the Schedule.
Making your child aware of his or her schedule during the day will help them get through their first daycare days. Talk to your child about their daily schedule no matter how young they are. Tell them what to expect for circle time, snacks, rest and outdoor play. Younger children do not have the same concept of time as us, but they understand things like “I will come to pick you up after nap,” and they look forward to it.
Bring Special Items from Home
Having something special from home, such as a blanket or stuffed animal, can help children make connections with home. You can also bring a family picture. Studies have shown that babies can be calmed when there are pictures of family members or even parents’ clothing items in their daytime cribs.
Send Favorite Food
If your baby will be doing meals at daycare, send their favorite foods, utensils and bottles if appropriate. Take some time to prepare their lunch and snacks. Children obtain comfort from food, especially the food their parents make.
Minimizing Other Changes
Try to avoid making other changes to your child’s routine while he or she is getting used to a new daycare arrangement. So you may want to hold off on moving or adding a new puppy to the family until your child is a little more settled into his or her new daycare routine and better able to cope with these added changes.
Children adapt to new daycare situations at different rates. Most children will become comfortable after a few weeks, but age and temperament certainly affect how long it can take. Very seldom are children unable to adapt. Talk to your daycare provider if your child has particular difficulties after approximately two months.