5 Steps to Overcoming Drop Off Meltdowns
The dreaded daycare drop-off. Something every parent DOESN’T look forward to. First you attempt to get those little teeth brushed, then feed them breakfast, and finally you try to get their shoes on (hopefully matching). But the most challenging part of your child’s morning routine is dropping them off at daycare. It’s the final and most difficult hurdle in your morning race. Often, parents describe this separation as gut wrenching, not only because it’s hard on the child but it’s also hard on you as the parent. It doesn’t matter if you’re a new parent or a parent of 3, it doesn’t gets easier until your child gets used to daycare.
Even though this transition is an uncomfortable experience, you should take comfort in a few facts. First, daycare exposes your child to diversity. New children, new adults, new learning experiences; embarking into the unknown is where we really experience learning and growth. Research shows that quality daycare positively affects children’s growth in independence, cognitive learning, and socialization. Second, children can adapt at a surprisingly fast rate and with a little help, you can nudge them into an easy transition. How do you nudge them, you may ask? Here are 5, Little Lukes approved, ways to make daycare drop-off easier.
How to Help Your Toddler Adjust to Daycare
Talk it Through
Communication is key, especially with young children. The best way to ease your child into daycare is to establish a level of trust by talking with them and ensuring them that daycare is mommy and daddy approved. Sure they may cry and some mornings they may say they don’t want to go. However, if they have that proper guidance ensuring them that this unknown territory isn’t as scary as they think, they will likely acclimate quicker.
Ease Them Into It
With some children it might be best to approach daycare with a gradual start. It can be very stressful on a young child to go from spending every day with mom or dad to spending every day with a new adult, with no transition in between. In the first week, try starting back at work on a Thursday so the weekend begins sooner or try taking them to daycare two or three days a week and having them stay with someone they are familiar with, like a relative or family friend, two or three days a week. After they get used to the new children, adults, and experiences at the center, you can then increase them to 5 days at the daycare.
Leave Them With Something Familiar
Most toddlers have a particular toy or blanket that they really enjoy. Be sure to pack that item in their daycare bag. If they associate something they love dearly with a new experience, then the new experience will be an easier transition.
Tip: Another idea is to send them to preschool with a mom or dad memento. This memento could be an item that belongs to you and reminds them of you, such as a scarf or chunky bracelet. It could even be a travel sized picture album with two or three photos of you and your little one. Throughout the day when they feel homesick this memento will help them feel closer to you.
Always say Goodbye
So you’ve had a few discussions about daycare, you’re easing them into, and you’re helping them create good experiences by sending them with a favorite toy. Be sure to maintain this trust by always saying goodbye. Sometimes we might be tempted to slip out the door when our child is distracted because we’re late for work. All this will do is make them associate daycare with, “what happened to mom?” Instead create a special, but quick, goodbye ritual. You can have a secret handshake or a special hug. It will help them feel way more secure.
Tip: If you leave your child with a mom or dad memento, make it part of your goodbye ritual. You can kiss the item and tell them you’re filling it with love.
Get Out More
Last, but most certainly not least, in the time leading up to and during your daycare transition, give your little ones a chance to exercise their independence. As they grow they will encounter more and more opportunities where independence is needed. As a way to help them feel as comfortable as possible when these future situations arise, find small ways to allow them to familiarize themselves with their independence. Go for a walk while leaving them with your significant other, take them to grandma’s house while you go shopping with a friend. As they grow, mom and dad will not always be around and it’s best to help them understand that that’s perfectly ok. As they start to understand this, you will likely find that daycare drop off will become easier.
How to Find the Best Daycare
Before you acclimate your child with the idea of daycare, you need to choose a daycare. For a complete guide on how to choose your preschool and childcare center, visit our article on how to choose the best daycare for your child.
Little Lukes is a leading Syracuse daycare provider with five preschool locations. The early education program includes credentialed and caring staff that specializes in comprehensive infant, toddler and pre-kindergarten development. Additional services include pediatric speech therapy, pediatric physical therapy and pediatric occupational therapy. Preschool locations include Dewitt (East Syracuse), Baldwinsville (Radisson), Oswego, Fulton, and Pulaski.
For information about Little Lukes, please contact us at www.littlelukes.com/contact.html