Wednesday February 4, 2009
Separation anxiety can be eased if you are well-prepared.
LEAVING children at the daycare centre may be the hardest experience for most parents.
Working mothers, torn between work and family, often try to steal out of the centre before their toddlers start wailing. This heart-wrenching scene is common in many daycare centres.
Children often cry for a few days or even weeks when they are first sent to a daycare programme. Some will cry for an hour after being dropped off and periodically throughout the day. Others will just cry for a few minutes after their parents leave.
There are children who will happily wave goodbye for the first week or two, and when it finally sinks in, they will spend the next week crying when their parents leave.
Still others will try to adjust to the childcare centre, and then several weeks, months or years later, cry during parting time in the morning. Their behaviour may be an indication of problems with the childcare situation or some other form of stress.
Young children have a hard time with separation because they do not have a sense of time and they do not understand about work and daycare.
Babies tend to think their parents are lost forever if they do not see them. Toddlers feel rejected when you refuse to stay with them at the childcare centre.
Children do not want you to leave because you are the only one they trust. They have to learn to trust people whom they are unfamiliar with. No one knows your child as well as you. You have established a unique style of communication with your child.
Sometimes children cry when they are being dropped off at a childcare centre because the programme does not suit them. Some parents assume that their children will learn more when they are placed in an academic-oriented environment.
One parent related how her two-year-old joined the class for four-year-olds. Her toddler was not allowed to take a mid-morning nap because her class was heavily scheduled until noon. When she felt sleepy, the assistant teacher wiped her face to keep her awake.
Parents must be aware of their child's needs before choosing a childcare programme. If the child's needs are well met at each stage of development, the potential for learning can soar. On the other hand, unnecessary pressure to cope when the child is not ready can lead to more harm than good.
Finally, a child who has made initial adjustments may start crying during drop-off time because of something that is going on in his family. Stress, illness, job change, a new baby or other negative happenings in the family may lead to difficult goodbyes. It is imperative that you let your careproviders know about the changes. This will help them to understand your child better.
Here are some ways to help you and your child reduce anxiety during partings:
·Build a positive relationship with your careprovider. She can be a great help during stressful times when your child demands your attention and you are not able to oblige. Do not feel threatened by her or treat her as a competitor. She is there to assist you.
·Goodbyes should be short and sweet. Long goodbyes are better left for the movies. If your child has problems separating from you, it is more difficult for him when you keep giving one more hug or kiss. Do not feel bad when your child screams "I hate you" as you leave. Your child still loves you no matter what.
·If your child is having difficulty adjusting to daycare after several weeks, conduct spot checks to see how your child is adjusting. Is there something troubling him? You may want to hold off making any changes such as getting him to sleep in his own room or getting rid of his favourite comforter when he starts daycare.
·Prepare for the morning rush. Goodbyes are more difficult when parents are anxious in the mornings. If you are stretched for time when you say your goodbyes, your child will pick up from your non-verbal cues. Give yourself and your child ample time in the morning by preparing everything the night before. Wake your child up with a smile and say: "We are going to have a great day today."
·Celebrate your getting back with your child. Before doing anything else, spend the first hour with your child after you pick him up from daycare. Have a wonderful chat about your day at work and the daycare. Play a game or two. Go for a walk together. This antidote for stress works all the time.