It must be like a small tugging of the heart. A little jab in the stomach. The thought of settling kids into a new childcare, or childcare for the first time.
The thought of that little person fronting up to a whole new world must fill mothers and fathers with anxiety. How are they going to fair? Will they make friends? Will they behave? How will they get on with the teacher? Will they ever stop crying when you leave them at the door?
Separation anxiety is a real thing. But it can also be managed. According to Explore & Develop, a group of Childcare Services based in NSW, there are five ways you can make it easier. Minimising the trauma for the young one, and softening the heart-tugs for mum and dad.
Pre-plan a visit for your child where he or she can meet the educators and experience the environment, themselves. If it’s too late for that, driving past the location, pointing it out to your child and discussing it, will make the space feel safe, so that your child can look forward to this new milestone, minimising their anxiety and developing their understanding of the upcoming change.
They more organised you are, the most relaxed they will feel. Take time to prepare your child’s backpack the night before, plan or lay out their clothes and have a routine already in mind. Even start waking them up at their new-regular time a few days before childcare starts.
anessa Alexander talks about the time she tried to start her own childcare
Something borrowed to prevent the blues
It’s a good idea to pack a special, transitional object (like a favourite toy, photo or blanket) for your child to bring along on his or her first day of childcare. It will help make them feel safe.
You can keep a transitional object for yourself, too. Keeping a photo of them on your desk or in your wallet might help ease your own anxiety.
Keep calm, and say goodbye
It may be tough, but avoid the temptation to sneak off. Stay calm and offer a goodbye. Assure your little one that you will be back later and avoid a drawn-out goodbye. This will make it easier for you both to get on with the rest of the day. Remember, the professionals at the childcare also know what they’re doing.
Debrief and discuss
Ask the teacher for an update of your child’s day on pick-up. This will give you the material you need to keep the conversation going. Ask your child questions about their day; talk to them about their feelings; talk to them about the other children they met, what they think of their teacher. Positive chats will help your child adjust and understand the experience better. It will also make you feel more involved.