To make the transition smooth from home to childcare, it's important to build a relationship with your child's caregiver and keep the lines of communication open. Talk about your child's likes and dislikes, any particular fears (such as thunder), how your child is behaving, what your child usually does or likes to do during the day, any problems you are currently facing, and so on. You should also share anything you're concerned about regarding your child's behaviour at home.
Here are several ways to make leaving your child with a caregiver easier and less painful for all concerned.
- If possible, start leaving your child with the new caregiver for short periods of time, at least two weeks before you need full-time care.
- Stay with your child and the caregiver for a little while each day, for the first few days, to help your child adjust. This will also allow you to learn more about the childcare. Remember, you and the caregiver are a team, working in the best interests of your child. So try to stay in touch regularly.
- Try leaving a favourite toy or blanket or a picture of you with your child. These can be comforting when you are gone.
- Before leaving, be sure to explain to your child that you'll be back. Do so confidently, without appearing anxious or sad.
- Create daily rituals, such as kissing three times and waving good-bye together, when you're leaving. After a while, these rituals will give your child a sense of predictability over your leaving.
- Accept and be sensitive to your child's display of emotions, such as crying or purposely ignoring you, when you are leaving. Stay calm if your child acts scared or angry. Acknowledge the fear so she knows it is okay to have these feelings.
When you are leaving your child at child care, here are some things to avoid:
- Never make fun of your child, if he cries when you leave.
- Never sneak out - an upset because you're leaving is much better than an upset because you suddenly disappeared without warning.
- Try to avoid going right back in, even if you've forgotten something. This can be confusing and distressing for your child.
- Never force a shy, anxious or "slow to warm up" child to jump into a situation. Let him stay close to you until he feels comfortable enough to join in.
If you find that your child isn't adjusting well to being left in childcare, be sure to talk with the caregiver. Remember, you are a team.