It’s always hard putting your child in a new daycare environment and it’s understandable! Especially if it’s your child’s first daycare, not only are they leaving their parent(s) for the first time, but they are being left with people that they probably don’t know. The transition phase of a new child in daycare can leave everyone frustrated. Here are some tips (don’t worry, there’s a part two) to help your child adjust to daycare for a (hopefully) smooth transition.
One of the biggest things that I’ve noticed while working in daycare for the past 9 years is that the longer a parent lingers, the harder it will be for the child to adjust after you go (this also holds true for kids who have been going to daycare forever.) We expect the parent to stay a little longer on the first day, but on day two, even if your child is kicking and screaming, say your goodbyes and leave. It’s essentially ripping that band-aid off and sometimes it’s the best thing to do even if it’s the hardest.
So this trick has worked quite often which is surprising. While I’m not trying to encourage dependency on food by any means, bringing food for your child to eat or having your daycare provider feed your child snack upon dropoff really works to help distract your child long enough to forget why they are sad. Plus, if the daycare provider provides the food, it can help build trust between the provider and the child.
Keeping a schedule is important for your child to transition smoothly in a new environment. If you can, try to drop off at the same time every day and pick up at the same time every day. Of course, the daycare providers don’t expect this. We also know that sometimes things happen and it can make it hard to have this consistency. But, allowing your child to know what to expect can also allow your child to know that you’ll come back to get them at the end of the day and it could make the day easier for them.
Communicating with your child, no matter how old they are, is a great way to allow your child to transition. When you find your daycare, start explaining to your child that soon they are going to a new place and try to make it exciting! Keep a chart counting down the days until they get to play in a new place. On the way to daycare, explain to your child that they are going to play and you are going to work or school. After work/school is over, you’ll be back to pick them up. When you drop off, make sure you repeat that you are dropping them off and you’ll be back later. Then, on pick up, communicate with the daycare provider to see if there is anything you can do to help with the transition more. Since the daycare provider is there with your child all day, try to get insight about their day and methods you can use to help from them, as every provider is different.
This one is so important! Establishing a goodbye routine is extremely helpful with the transition. But, sticking to that transition and following through with what you say is probably more important than that. Do you have a goodbye routine of a hug, kiss, and “I love you”? Keep it to that! Your child will throw a huge tantrum but keep to the routine and your child will calm down with the help of the providers and through self-soothing. Did you tell your child if they don’t throw a fit at dropoff they’ll get a surprise at the end of the day? If your child throws a fit at dropoff don’t give it to them! They will soon learn that you mean what you say. If you let your child control drop off, you’ll be there all day!
I hope these tips were helpful to you! Be on the lookout for part two, coming out sometime this month but I’m really not sure yet. If you have any questions regarding daycare or transitioning your child, please feel free to reach out to me in the comments or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org! What methods have worked for you when you were transitioning your child to daycare?