Tips For Helping Your Child Adjust To Daycare

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Are you the parent of a young child? Do you need to go back to work, but you're worried about how your child will react to being left a with a sitter or at a daycare? Being left with a stranger can be difficult for anyone but is especially troublesome to young kids. But you can make things easier on yourself and your child by planning ahead and being prepared. Some things to help with the transition include:

Tell your child when you will be back: Very young children may not completely understand clocks and the concept of time, but you can still use them to let your child know when you'll be back. If your daycare has an analog clock hanging on the wall, for example, you can tell your son or daughter that you'll be back by the time the little hand is pointing down. If a digital clock is used instead, you can show your kid what the number 6 looks like and let them know that you'll be back to pick them up when that number shows up on the hour side. Your child may not understand what an hour is or exactly how long you are gone each day, but knowing that you'll be back by a certain time should help keep your child from becoming too anxious.

Have a goodbye ritual: Taking your child to daycare and then leaving without saying goodbye is never a good idea. Your child may start to wonder if you'll randomly disappear at other times as well. Instead of just disappearing, make a little extra time in your day to say goodbye, even if it's in a silly way. If you are a mother, you could do something like play a game of patty-cake with your child, changing the line to "Patty cake, patty cake, baker's man: mommy will be back as soon as she can." Knowing what to expect will help keep your child from becoming upset.

Make a small photo album: Although they might not be able to explain themselves properly, sometimes children can be worried that they will forget what you look like before you're able to come back. Or they may worry that you'll forget about them. Have a few photos of yourself, your house, and any pets printed out. Put these into two small photo albums and let your child take one with him or her to daycare. Let your child know that you're taking the other one with you to work. He or she can look at the pictures during the day to remind him or herself about home and what will be waiting when you come back to pick him or her up.