Preparing to send your little one to childcare can be nerve-racking, and an event that may have been playing on your mind from the moment they were born.
But whether you’re returning to work or want to give them a chance to socialise with other children, childcare is a great option and in Canberra, we’re fortunate to have easy access to centres that offer a high quality of care.
With the new year still about a month away, there is plenty of time to prepare for your child’s first day – especially if you’re worried about separation anxiety, both yours and your child’s!
Tiffany Martz, acting Director at Artemis Early Learning Centre, offers some helpful advice.
“Learning to be apart for the first time is not easy for parents or children, but most children adapt really quickly.
“Although it’s their first day, not all children get upset when mum or dad leave. I frequently see children happily wave goodbye, and excitedly jump in and start playing with all the new friends, food and toys. Childcare centres are designed to be bright and inviting spaces for children, so there’s often a lot of enthusiasm when they arrive – even if it’s mixed with a little apprehension.
“If there is separation anxiety, it often passes within minutes of the parent leaving the room. We use a number of strategies to help calm and distract children who are upset, and it doesn’t take long to get them engaged in something new and exciting.”
For parents who are especially worried about separation anxiety, Tiffany recommends trying a few activities this year to prepare their child.
“If your child is old enough to understand, talk openly about what will be happening next year. Help them get excited about all the other children they will meet, the new food they will try, the fun toys they will play with, and the activities they will do.
“For children who are too young to understand, or are at an age when separation anxiety tends to peak (typically between 12-18 months old), there are techniques you can try now that may make the first few days of childcare easier.”
The most common and proven way to ease separation anxiety is to practice separation. You can do this by asking a family member or close friend to care for your child for brief periods so that they can experience separation in a comfortable environment, and learn that when mum or dad go away, they will return.
Ideally, you should:
- Create a quick “goodbye ritual” such as giving a hug, waving and blowing a kiss.
- Leave quickly. Stalling or giving in to tantrums usually makes it worse.
- Let them keep something familiar. If they go to a different house, allow them to take a favourite toy.
- Practice short periods such as 10 minutes at first, leading to longer ones such as a few hours and then a whole day.
“Telling your child that you will always return is especially comforting. As soon as they start to trust through experience that it will happen, their anxiety will diminish – and so will yours.
“Lastly, rest assured that well-trained educators will take good care of your child. Their safety and wellbeing is our first priority, and we do all we can to make sure they not only enjoy their time at childcare, but grow, learn and thrive while they are here.”
To know more about Artemis Early Learning, or to book in your child for 2019, give them a call on (02) 6239 3927.
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