7 ways to ease your toddler’s transition to daycare
Transitioning your toddler into a daycare environment for the first time comes with a lot anxiety. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye, for both you and your child.
The thought of leaving them hysterically crying for you not to leave them is enough to make you want to keep them at home with you forever.
However, the social and developmental benefits that a positive daycare environment can bring to your child will far outweigh the stress, anxiety, and guilt that it may bring at first.
To help both you and your child cope with these changes, I’ve outlined 7 ways to ease your toddler’s transition to daycare.
Visiting the new classroom prior to your toddler’s first day is one of the best ways to ease your toddler’s transition to daycare.
It helps them become familiar with the environment and teacher and help them feel safe and comfortable on their first day.
You can either visit during an open house if they have one or during regular daycare hours prior to their start day.
Engage with your toddler in the environment by reading them books and doing an activity or two.
If neither of those are an option for you, you can always drive them by the daycare a few times and show them the outside and the playground to get them familiar and excited.
Tell them what to expect
Try to avoid hyping up their experience by telling them things like “you’re going to have the best day ever!”
If you tell them how much they’ll love it and then they don’t they may be confused and feel like they can’t trust you. Instead be more specific about the day and what they can expect to happen.
For example, explain to them the routine…“We will wake up and get dressed, then eat breakfast and read books. After that we’ll get your lunch ready for school.
Then we’ll pack your bag with a change of clothes, diapers, wipes, and your lovey. We’ll get in mommy’s car and drive to school together and you’ll see all of the children and your teacher.
Mommy will read a book to you. When I leave you’ll play with the other children and do fun activities like play with the train table and explore outside.
After you eat lunch with everyone, mommy will be back to pick you up and we’ll drive back home for your bottle and nap!”
keep your home schedule as consistent as possible
Being away from home in a new environment is a lot of change as is. Try to keep your schedule/routine at home consistent with how it was before daycare so that there isn’t too much change at first.
As they get more used to going to daycare, gradually adjust your home schedule to that of their daycare schedule so that snack time, lunch time, and nap time are all the same.
It’s a good idea to even find out when they have story time and go outside as well so you can incorporate that at home as well.
When a toddler feels as though they know what to expect throughout the day they are happier and more at ease since knowing what to expect gives them a sense of control in their lives.
Humans are naturally more at ease when they feel like they have control.
Get them excited
If you aren’t against a little bit of screen time and you have a young toddler (one to two years old) that may not fully understand what you are talking about when you tell them what they can expect at daycare, get them excited by showing them videos on youtube of positive and productive daycare environments.
This will help them feel more assertive and excited when they find themselves in their very own daycare environment.
I would suggest showing them one short video a day during the week leading up to their first day.
bring a comfort item
Comfort items from home can help in any situation where your child may feel anxiety or stress, especially when your child is separated from you at daycare.
A comfort item is a little piece of home that reminds them of mommy and daddy as well as the comfort and security of their home.
You can use it to help soothe them when saying your goodbyes as well.
For example, you can say, “Mommy will come back after lunch to pick you up and take you home but until then you have lovey to comfort and protect you.” Any added re-assurance can help with their separation anxiety.
create a good bye routine
By keeping your drop off routine consistent, your little one will know what to expect each time, which will give them a sense of control over the situation. An example of this would be…
- Say hello to the teacher
- Hang up their bag together and assure them that their lovey is there for them if they need it
- Read them one book
- Tell them about their routine (play in the classroom, snack, explore outside, lunch, story time, mommy picks them up, etc.)
- Involve them in an activity
- Say goodbye and reassure them that you will be back after story time, etc.
don’t linger too long
Saying a quick goodbye with confidence and re-assurance shows them that they are safe.
If you show signs of anxiety then their anxiety will likely increase as well by signaling to them that it’s not okay for them to be left alone there.
Most children typically stop crying shortly after their parents leave.
If you are concerned, let the teacher know to contact you if they don’t calm down after 45 minutes or so and then you can go from there.
in Summary: Ways to Ease Your Toddler’s Transition to Daycare
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