Childcare

How parents manage their children's stress about starting daycare

Tears and separation

At first, your child might cry (real talk: you might, too) and it's completely normal.

Separation can be a tough thing to deal with, depending on your personality. If you’re at work, your heart might not be in it because you’re thinking too much about your child. Instead, try to see this as an opportunity to enjoy some time to yourself without any strings attached. If you really need to calm your nerves, though, call the daycare to check in. (Don’t sweat it; lots of parents do it at the beginning.)

For the first few days, your child will be preoccupied exploring his or her curiosity about the new digs. Once that feeling wears off, that’s when things start getting difficult. Your child’s fear of abandonment may kick in with the realization that these new surroundings are here to stay and that he or she will start being around you less. Even if this situation is excruciating, take comfort in the fact that your child is getting acquainted to both positive and negative emotions.

Make sure the lines of communication about daycare are open between you and your child, even if he or she doesn’t fully understand everything that’s going on.

Talk about the fun things he or she can do there and even talk about what you’ll be doing during the day. Constantly reassure your child that you will be coming to pick him or her up using specific references to time (before lunch, after nap-time, etc.). Even talking to the daycare worker in front of your child will show him or her that you trust that person, which will affirm the bond being created between your child and the caretaker.

Finally, your child might also cry when he sees you again at the end of the day—again, totally healthy. Comfort your child by telling him or her that you understand and put these emotions into words ("You were sad to see mommy go, but I came back and I missed you, too!").

Back at home, talk about how things are going at daycare. Display your child’s drawings, crafts and other masterpieces, along with pictures of him or her together with the daycare worker. Most importantly, express how proud you are.

Before long, the daycare worker will become someone whose presence will be enough to comfort your child and your little one will leave you in the morning with a smile on his or her face, ready to confront another day of adventures with daycare friends.

Solène Bourque
Psychoeducator

Solène Bourque is a mother of two; Ariane and Thomas. She is a psychoeducator and a certified instructor in infant massages. She worked for many years in community programs with children aged 0 to 5 years old and she now teaches Special Education in the Cégep du Vieux-Montréal. She co-wrote ‘100 trucs pour les parents des tout-petits’, published in 2010 with the Éditions de Montagne. Become a fan of her facebook page.


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