Separation Anxiety – Transition Into Childcare

Separation AnxietyHANG TOUGH! It Gets Better.  Childcare IS a Rewarding Experience.

When first enrolling your child into a center, there is no way to predict whether or not the transition from staying home will be an easy one.  Some children can’t wait to start and others will make it heart wrenching on the parents.

Usually it is harder on you “the parents” than the child. Try not to think of your child as having the same frustrations, anxieties or apprehensions you do. While we as parents struggle to protect our children from anxious moments or disappointments of life, those are feelings and emotions they will need to deal with as they grow up.  A young child does not have the ability to be introspective and because of this they tend to assimilate and not evaluate and are much more resilient than you may think.

Separation Anxiety

Over the years I have experienced many children who immediately jump right in and have an easy time with transitioning. On the other hand, I have had to help many families work through their separation anxiety issues with children who have a very difficult time beginning childcare. Obviously the parents of those children who experience an easy transition have much less separation anxiety issues than the parents of the children who do not.

With children who have a difficult time transitioning, you might experience your child crying or even throwing a temper tantrum. The resistance to going to the center may start at home, in the car or possibly not until you get to the school.  One child we had hid her mother’s car keys. Most parents enrolling a child into a preschool need their services in order to attend to personal appointments or work schedules.  Please keep in mind that even in the toughest transitions, things will work out.  You need to be able to focus on the circumstances that brought you to a childcare center in the first place.  If you have confidence in the owners, director and referrals, then you should be patient and let it work.  It will work out.  I have seen the most difficult cases end up with a happy smiling child running into the school to get to class.

Don’t Leave Me!

One specific child who had a very hard time comes to mind. Her name is Elizabeth. Elizabeth would kick, scream “Don’t leave me,” cry endlessly, and mom would sit up front crying and have to calm down before she could drive to work.  That was four years ago.  Elizabeth eventually became one of those children I described earlier who would run into the school and beat her mother to her classroom.  Elizabeth is now going into 3rd grade and is still with us. She comes for after school care, school breaks and summer camp and is a very happy well adjusted child.  Because her mother hung in there and gave it a chance to work out, Elizabeth’s experience at our school has been a rewarding one for both mother and daughter.

Talk With Other Parents

If your child is having a hard time and you are feeling guilty and stressed, ask the center to introduce you to some other parents like Elizabeth’s mom who have gone through what you are experiencing. If it’s the right school, you will be amazed how well your child eventually will do. My mom often told me, “This too will pass” and it did.

At my center during the day, we quite often take pictures of our newly enrolled children so the parents can see that the same crying child they dropped off is smiling, interacting and having fun. Ask your center to do that for you. It makes a big difference in putting your mind at ease.

Positive Learning Experiences:

There are so many positive experiences your child will encounter in a well run childcare center. Think of the many skills children must develop and how learning those sooner than later will only help make them become stronger more advanced individuals. Just a few things your child will experience includes learning how to make friends, building relationships, sharing with others, relating to and getting along with individuals they might not like playing with as well as participating in group activities.

A good school will have the tools to help children develop their cognitive, motor and social skills. They will have the opportunity to experience different learning centers and be exposed to a national curriculum. They also will be introduced to many new foods. Licensed childcare centers must serve all five food groups to every child at each meal.

Another important learning experience for children attending a preschool is learning how to respect and take directives from a different authority figure other than the parent and usually for the first time in their young lives. This is a skill they will need when they reach kindergarten and even when they get their first job.

A childcare center can help you get your child potty trained and take that weight off your shoulders as well.

Here are some pointers in helping your child transition easily:

1. When you bring him or her to class make it short and sweet. Give your child a hug and kiss goodbye and turn around and leave, whether things are okay or not. The longer you draw it out the worse it will get and the longer it will take for your child to get accustomed and comfortable in the new surroundings.

2. Children know the basics. Cry and they will usually get their way, so keep that in mind. Most children who cry a great deal are not crying because they are traumatized. It is just because they are conditioned that such behavior will get the results they desire – You!

If your child is one of the real difficult ones, be patient and take a deep breath. Remember your child is not experiencing the same feelings and emotions you are. What you see as a challenging situation will more than likely turn into an awesome positive experience.