It’s no secret small children are not particularly fond of change but it’s also an inevitable part of life. The world in which we live is a transient one – we don’t stay in the same cities we were born in and often work and family commitments will see us having to relocate. So, if you find yourself in the situation where you need to switch day care centres for your child, it’s best to be as prepared as possible to combat the obstacles this major modification to their routine will bring. Here’s some tips and tricks to make the transition from one day care centre to another as stress free as possible:
Employ a gradual approach
Arrange for your child to have visited the new day care centre two or three times before their first official day. Some centres will offer brief play dates with Mum or Dad present while your child begins to acquaint themselves with these new surrounds, as well as longer timeframes where you can leave your child at the centre without you for an hour or two. This gradual exposure will help form familiarity and predictability in their day and allow them to ease into this new environment.
Maintain regular routines
It’s common knowledge children thrive on routine, so although there is a major change about to occur in their everyday world with a new day care centre, be sure to keep everything else as predictable as possible. This includes bedtimes, mealtimes, social activities and anything else they would normally do on a daily basis, such as reading books with you before bed. So just as our cleaning services occur at the same time in day care centres each day, maintaining normal transmission with your child’s routine will be sure to alleviate the overwhelm they might feel.
Manage your own anxiety
Children are so in tune with the emotions of their parents so it’s wise to be mindful of managing any anxiety you are feeling about this impending change. If you are displaying unease about this event then its highly likely your child will mimic this behaviour. Watch your word choices, your reactions and even your expressions and make sure you don’t allow any anxiety you are feeling about how your child will cope with this big change to impact them and their emotions.
Use age appropriate examples to explain change
It can be difficult to explain to a toddler why they won’t see the usual familiar face at day care drop off, however they do understand more than we realise. There are still ways to invoke readiness for change, no matter their age. For younger babies and toddlers, assist their transition by mentioning the name of their new carer often in the lead up to the first day or engage in some role play. For 3-year-olds or 4-year-olds, you could also source books from your local library to read to your which discusses the concept of change and help you open a dialogue with them on this subject.
Be prepared for some separation anxiety
Separation anxiety is an inevitable phase of development all children will go through, but when you mix in a change of day care centres, there could be either a return of this behaviour or an increase in current levels. Be sure to factor in extra time for your drop off for the first few weeks so you don’t have to dash off immediately and can help them settle into this new setting. When it is time for goodbye, keep it short, sweet and upbeat. Don’t ever be tempted to just disappear though without saying a proper goodbye to your child – this will only make things more difficult in the long run!
Allow them to take a familiar item from home for the first few days
While some day care centres might frown upon children bringing toys from home with them because of potential loss or damage, it can be comforting for a child starting a new day care to be able to bring an item with them which reassures and consoles them during a time of change. Cuddling their favourite teddy or clutching their beloved blankie will give them a sense of familiarity in a foreign environment and will also assist with nap-times. You will also find it’s easier to say goodbye to your child at a new day care when they have something special from home to keep them company while they transition to this new environment.
Our emotions are infectious so be sure to show your child you are enthusiastic about this new chapter in their life. We are our children’s best role models so if we act the way we want them to feel we need to be upbeat and positive about this change. It’s a sure bet this excitement will soon be catching.