As parents, it can be difficult to separate yourself from your toddler once it’s time for you to go back to work. You’ve been their main caregiver since their birth and have been there for them every day. But, when your maternity or paternity leave ends, you need someone else to take care of your child.
Daycare is a good place to leave your child while you’re at work or any other duty that needs your attention. Daycare workers can watch over your child and help them learn basic skills. Your child will also be able to mingle with other children during their session.
While the advantage of daycare is immense for parents, it can be a traumatic experience for toddlers who aren’t used to being away from you for longer than half an hour. So, what do you do to get them to get used to the idea of daycare?
If you’re enrolling your child in one of Kuala Lumpur's daycare schools, here are some tips to prepare them:
1. Introduce the idea
If you’re introducing a new activity or concept to your child, it’s best to do it slowly. Gently introducing the idea to them helps them become open to learning and discovering more about this new activity. There are plenty of books that introduce the idea of going to school that you can read to your child.
These are my personal favourites:
In this case, talk to your child about daycare and tell them what it’s all about. If they have questions, don’t hesitate to answer them. With a clear picture in their mind, your child will open up to going to daycare.
When you first take them to daycare, don’t start them off with a full-time care. Allow your child to get a feel of the place for a few days before asking if they like to stay longer. If they say they don’t want to stay long, ask again after a few days.
Once they do get the hang of going to daycare, they’ll feel less anxiety. They may even start looking forward to the next day of schooling.
2. Stay positive
It’s not uncommon for parents to be hesitant about letting their child stay in an unknown environment. There are a lot of things that can go wrong, even if the place they are staying in is safe.
If your child is going to start with daycare, don’t let your anxiety show in your face. If your child sees that you’re nervous, they’ll feel it and become hesitant about going too!
Meanwhile, if you show excitement, your child will pick up on it. Of course, make sure your excitement is believable.
You should also stay positive when it comes to speaking with the daycare workers or teachers. Some children often gauge their behaviour to their teachers based on their parents' words and actions.
It’s also important that you don’t say you’ll miss her. This will only cause your child to feel bad about going to daycare. Show that you are very proud of them and you are happy instead.
3. Don’t stay long
When you drop off your child in daycare, don’t linger. If you hang around for a while after dropping your child, your child would feel anxious and run back to you. Some may even start a tantrum and yell at everyone. Calming them may take a long time.
To prevent this, you can make a simple and quick drop-off routine. When you drop them off, give her a swift hug and kiss and tell them you love them. Don’t cling onto them or sneak out because it will trigger anxiety.
Remember, your child needs assurance that you will come back. So, always say goodbye before you leave them at daycare.
4. Bring their comfort or security item
If your child has a security blanket or comfort item, let them bring it with them to school. A comfort item can help with your child's separation anxiety and let them know you will be back for them.
Comfort or security items can be anything that has a connection with you and your child. It doesn’t have to be visual since it can be a recorded audio your child can play when they miss you.
You can also speak to the daycare teachers about the things your child loves to do. If they like a lullaby before a nap or if they love mashed potatoes, let your child's daycare teacher know.
5. How to deal with your child's crying
Even if you have done everything you could to prepare them to daycare, your child will still get upset on their first day. In this instance, separation anxiety is very high for both you and your child. But, it can get better in a few minutes.
If your child cries during your drop-off on their first day, ask the daycare worker or teacher how long they cried after you left. You can also ask how your child's day went.
Some teachers say that some kids will only cry in front of their parents in the belief they will change their mind. Once they leave, the tears stop.
6. Be open to talking to your child
Finally, you can talk to your child to help them understand the change in their routine. Ask them questions about how their day went and show your excitement in learning about them.
Let your child know that you will listen to them no matter what, even if they have fears about daycare. Sometimes, a child's anxiety decreases if they know they can speak to their parents or guardians about their problems. When they do talk about their problems, speak to the daycare worker to find a solution.
As parents, it’s normal for us to be anxious about leaving our children at daycare or preschool for the first time. But, it’s an important milestone for both you and your child so you need to prepare your child as much as you could.
With the tips above, we hope that it lessens your fears and help you build a good daycare experience for your child.