You know it has to be done and yet you feel miserable and sometimes guilty about leaving your baby in Child Care. You probably find yourself crying all the way to work especially when he cries every time you leave. Your child feels the stress you feel at separation and, interestingly, the caregiver too feels a certain amount of stress. We will discuss here the ways in which you can manage the stress and help your little one adapt to the new routine.
Parent-Child Separation Anxiety
There could be several reasons why your child and you find it difficult to cope with the separation. The most common fear is of being abandoned. He can also sense your anxiety while you drop him off. In some cases, the Day Care Centre may not be able to provide an appropriate activity program attuned to his temperament and interests. Also, he may not like the food provided there, or the sheer number of children and teachers may be a bit too much for him to handle. There is of course the more serious possibility of child abuse which is hard to find out as he may not confide in you. But, if you feel that he is unnaturally fearful of being left at the Centre, or cries more than usual, you should not rule out abuse.
It usually takes a child about a month to adjust to his new situation. So, don’t be alarmed if your kid persists in crying as he will soon adapt once he realizes that you will be back to pick him up. Some children who don’t cry at the start may even start crying after a week, a month, or even a year! Remember it is a natural reaction to change and the inability to control circumstances.
Tips For You And Your Child
Here are a few tips on how you and your child can cope with Child Care. If you are just planning to start him on Child Care, it would be a good idea to take him along with you to the Centre. You can expose him to the new environment and make it an exciting thing to look forward to. Stay there for at least a couple of hours so that he can see the other children participating in activities and games. Also introduce him to his potential caregivers so that when he starts Child Care, he will not feel like he is being handed over to total strangers. This can reassure both the child and you as you can also see how the caregivers are interacting with the children.
When you finally start leaving your child at the Centre, try to ease him into the routine gradually by leaving him there for just an hour on the first day, followed by a couple of hours on the next, etc, slowly increasing the hours over a period of time. Make sure you say your byes and leave immediately. If he cries at separation, do not prolong your departure or overly indulge in comforting him. You could maybe leave the comforting to the caregiver, which will aid their bonding. When you discuss your child’s progress at the Child Care Centre, always use encouraging words and never sound negative or anxious as children easily pick up on their parents’ emotions and react accordingly.
Make sure you maintain a strict time schedule for both drop and pick up. As each day goes by, your child will gain assurance that his parent will be there to take him back home at a certain time. This will help him relax and enjoy the activities and even make new friends. Sometimes, letting him carry his favourite toy, blanket, etc, will give the child a sense of security and comfort.
Caregivers Create Support
There are instances where your kid could be feeling stressed at the Centre because he is under the care of caregivers who themselves are stressed out. A primary caregiver is essential if your child is a baby or toddler. This helps the child as it is easier to bond with just one or two new people and not a host of strange adults. Request for regular meetings with the management and the caregivers to get a report of your child’s activities. How long does it take for him to stop crying after you are gone? Are they able to distract him and get him involved in other activities? Is he making new friends or is he withdrawn?
Although Day Care can never replace the warmth, love, and undivided attention he gets at home, it can be beneficial for your child by giving him access to several expensive educational toys, interaction with children his age, outdoor activities, etc, which may not be possible at home. With the right approach and planning, Child Care can really work for you and your precious baby.