January 19, 2004
One of the big difficulties both parents and children face when children are cared for by others is the issue of separation. Here are some tips from Zero to Three to help make separation easier.
Good-byes are difficult for little ones, even if it is just a short time. And seeing tears and pleas for staying can make a parent's heart ache as well. While separations (whether for routine child care or other reasons) are inevitable, there are certain things you can do to help make it easier.
- Plan your transition back to work a week later than your child's start to child care. Spend that first week with your child, staying with him in the morning until he's comfortable and picking him up early in the afternoon. You can gradually acclimate him to the child care setting in a non-stressful way. Not having the pressure to be somewhere may take stress off you as well.
- Since play is how children learn about the world, use play to help her understand hello and goodbye. For babies, the simple game of peek-a-boo helps them to learn that objects exist even when they don't see them. A young toddler might appreciate a story or book about another child who goes to child care. An older toddler may benefit from a game of make-believe where she is the mommy and you or a doll are her child going to care.
- Don't sneak out without saying good-bye. Use a special routine to help him feel secure, like sitting down and reading a book at the child care program, getting a hug and kiss, and then saying "see you later, alligator!"
- A special toy or security object from home can help - even a picture of you.
- Form a relationship with your caregiver where she can understand how to respond to your child, what routines you have at home, and how to talk about you throughout the day. Certainly there will be adjustments and changes, but good communication can help.
For More Information