The first day of daycare can be hard for a young child, and leaving your child behind with a look of despair can be painful for any parent. Not only that, you’ll likely be worried the whole day about your child’s happiness and well being. This can cause you to feel anxious, especially when drop-off time comes again the next day.
You can make your first daycare drop-off easier though. While some children will handle daycare drop-offs with more emotion than others, these tips will make the process easier for anyone. Remember, you know your child best, so choose the tips that seem to be the best fit for your child.
1. Talk About It
A day or two before your first daycare drop-off, tell your child how it’s going to go. Be upbeat and cheerful, as if this is something you already do every day. “Tomorrow, Mommy is going to take you to a school where there will be other children your age. You’ll get to play and learn in the morning. Then, you’ll have lunch and take a nap. After your snack, I’ll come and pick you up.” This gives your child a sense of familiarity before the event even happens. It also helps your child feel more in control, as he or she will know what to expect once you leave.
2. Do a Slow Start
If possible, start your first day of daycare on a Thursday or Friday rather than jumping into a full week. In addition, if you have the time, begin going to the daycare for short visits a couple weeks before your child’s first day. When you finally do drop your child off for the first day of daycare, ask a familiar caregiver to greet your child and to quickly get him or her involved in a fun activity.
3. Say Goodbye
Skipping out unnoticed while your child is involved in an activity may seem like the right thing to do. After all, out of sight, out of mind, right? That’s not always the case. If you sneak away, your child will likely remember you eventually and may have a difficult time when he or she realizes you’re not there. This can make the next day’s drop-off even harder.
4. Bring Something Familiar
Appeal to your child’s senses. Things that smell, sound, look, or feel like home (or like you) will be a great source of comfort if your child starts to feel a little sad. If your child is an infant, you can bring something that smells like you – a piece of clothing perhaps. A soft lovie that is comforting at home will be comforting for any child of any age, and an older child may find comfort in a picture of you.
5. Use a Consistent Ritual
Come up with a ritual you can do every day in the same way as you drop off your child. Making it light-hearted may help to ease any anxiety your child is feeling. A peck on the cheek followed by a high-five could give your child the energizing motivation he or she needs to brave the day. A warm hug and a whispered mantra or motto can go a long way too. Whatever you choose, just make sure it’s natural and consistent.
6. Be Positive
As difficult as the separation may be, remain positive. Your child will eventually pick up on your positive emotion and mirror it back. It’s okay for you to feel sad, but keep a positive demeanor while you’re doing the drop-off. Crying a little in the car afterwards, however, is allowed.
7. Don’t Worry
Many children cry for their first daycare drop-off, and some children cry for more than one day. If your child struggles, try not to worry. He will get through it. For your own peace of mind, call or text the daycare once you arrive at work to ask how your child is doing. You will likely hear your child has moved on and is doing fine.
Remember, it can take from one day to four weeks for a child to get through this transition. Don’t worry if your child is taking longer than you had expected. Make sure you have a daycare you love and trust such as Little Academy of Humble, and your child will even begin to look forward to daycare drop-offs.
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