Separation anxiety can arise in a child at any age, and often it can come on suddenly as a child goes through developmental changes that might not be so obvious to an observer. If your child happily went to a child care provider with no fuss and suddenly is clinging to you and crying, you're in the midst of a separation anxiety period. As with most things having to do with children, this stage is fleeting. It isn't easy to deal with, however, when you're in the midst of it. To get through bouts of anxiety during drop-off at childcare, check out these three tips.
Develop a Routine
Children thrive on routine. It helps them to add order to a world that might not always make sense to them. Your morning routine should start when your child wakes up and end when you drop them off with your child care provider. It might include a morning song, book or snuggle followed by breakfast, getting dressed and getting into the car. The routine continues when you arrive at daycare. Perhaps you play with the same toy for a few moments before you leave and then develop a special saying or goodbye ritual before you walk out the door.
Remember to build time into your routine for days you know will be difficult. Mondays can be difficult after the freedom of a weekend. Returning to daycare after vacation also can be difficult. Teething, developmental changes, visitors, illness and lack of sleep also can throw off your child's rhythm.
Children take their cues from you, so if you express anxiety over leaving, you'll confirm their fears about separating. Instead, be upbeat and positive. Stick to your routine, reassure your child that you will return and let him or her know when to expect you.
You also can enlist the help of your child care provider. Explain that you're dealing with some separation anxiety and ask them to distract your child so you can quietly leave. Your child care provider could take your child to the window to wave to you, read a story, or engage them in a favorite game to provide some distraction as you walk out the door.
Make it Exciting
If your older child seems worried about going to daycare, come up with a plan to make it exciting. Help your child pick out a special toy to share with his or her teacher or friends the next day. This will give your child something to look forward to rather than focus on the anxiety of separation.
Contact services such as Kidstown Drop-In Child Care Center to learn more about dealing with daycare separation anxiety.