Daycare Separation Anxiety

Goodbyes without tears

It is very normal for young children to experience difficulty separating from their parents. According to psychologists, this behaviour generally peaks between 8 and 18 months of age although many young children continue to have feelings of separation anxiety as they grow up.

Parents also can experience separation anxiety when their children are old enough to be left in the care of others. It can be heartbreaking watching your precious little one’s eyes fill with tears as you say goodbye, promising to return in a few short hours after work. No matter how much you trust in the daycare centre, it can take all of your willpower not to pick up the phone every 5 minutes throughout the day to call and check in on them.

To help you navigate the transition to a new daycare routine without tears, here are a few tips to help your child (and you!) feel better about saying goodbye every day.

Talk about it

Preparing for the inevitable separation can go a long way to easing the emotional pain felt on both sides. The night before a new daycare, talk to your children about how the day is going to go, how long you will be gone and what they can expect while you are away. This doesn’t always work for all children as some kids may be more anxious if you talk about it too much. You will need to judge your child’s personality to know how much you should share with them in advance.

Create a Transition Plan

It is a good idea for you to arrange a series of visits to the new daycare centre before the child starts a full day. You can visit with your child to help them feel comfortable for the first couple of days. Seeing you at the centre will help ease your child’s initial fear and anxiety.

Send a keepsake

Children like to know they can have their parents at their fingertips, literally! So, why not send along something that they can hold on to all day long that will remind them of your special bond? It could be a picture, a card, a scarf or anything the child chooses as their token. Take care to let the child care provider know what the item is for so they can be on board with helping with the process.

Set the tone

One of the most important things to remember is that your children will always look to you for guidance. They will take their cues from your own behaviour or anxieties, so if you are feeling uncomfortable about the upcoming separation, try not to let it show. Stay positive and remind them of all the great experiences they will have with their new caregiver. Have your own support system on backup to listen to your fears and hesitations but it’s important to maintain a strong front with your children and show them that you have the utmost trust and security in their new surroundings.

Stick to the routine

Once you’ve talked about the new situation and arranged for a special keepsake and said all the positive things in the world, children can still turn on the waterworks! Stick to the routine and let the teachers do what they are trained to do. It is difficult to walk away from a crying child, but as soon as parents are out the door, children are quickly distracted by peers and toys and get right back to having a fantastic time. Just as important, try to arrive back to pick up your child at the same time every day. This way, they become very used to the schedule and it will make the morning drop-offs much easier. If you can stick to the routines at the start and end of each day, everything will go much smoother for everyone.

At the end of the day, the bond between parent and child is always going to be unbreakable, but separation doesn’t always have to be so hard. Most importantly, use your childcare provider as an important partner in this process as their experience can be invaluable and make everything run a lot smoother.

Alpha’s Preschool Academy and Child Care Centre offers transition plans to help both you and your child ease into the daycare routines in a gradual way. Check out our programs for more information