Entrusting your child to a new early care and education provider can be a very difficult and stressful time for most families. Families react differently to change and their reactions have a definite impact on how their child will respond to the new environment. Suggest some of the following when families express anxiety about beginning early care and education for the first time, or having to switch early care and education providers.
- If possible, take a few half-days off from work to help your child make a slow, smooth transition into care. You could take your child in for just the morning for a few days before leaving him/her for the full day.
- Drive the route you will take when care begins so you will know what your commute time will be.
- Try to remain calm and reassuring, as your child will pick up any feelings of stress or tension you may have about the change.
- If your child cries, respond in a calm and positive way: “Yes, it’s hard to say goodbye sometimes, but we will be together when I pick you up after work.”
- Be quick about saying goodbye: Once you hug and kiss your child goodbye, try not to show you are upset and leave promptly. If you act as though your child is in good hands, your child will sense this and feel reassured.
Picking Up Your Child
The end of the day is usually the most hectic time of the day for working families. Family members have fought traffic, brought work home, run to the grocery store and know they will have household responsibilities once they get home. In spite of this, family members can take some steps to minimize the stress on themselves and their family.
- Look for and greet your child first, before talking to the teachers or provider. By showing the child you are happy to see her/him, you will start the evening on a good note.
- If your child is in the middle of an activity, allow time to finish it.
- Greet your child’s teacher or provider and ask how your child’s day went. They should share with you highlights of the day, any concerns they may have and how your child ate, napped, etc.
- If your child does not want to leave, don’t take it personally. It is a good indication that your child is having a wonderful time in early care and education or may have difficulties with transitions.
- Have a small snack for your child in the car, especially if it will be awhile until dinner.
- Try to make some time in the evening for “quality time” for each child. Even spending 15 minutes together reading a story, playing a game, cooking or doing another project together will help to reinforce the family-child bond.