How To Handle Separation Anxiety on Your Child’s First Day of Daycare

Enrolling your child into daycare is a huge step, and you and your little one are likely feeling a tad apprehensive about starting. Separation anxiety is completely normal and to be honest, expected. Your child may not be fazed about you leaving, but if they are, here’s how you can handle it to make their first day that much easier for the both of you.

What causes separation anxiety?

It’s quite common for young children to experience separation anxiety when they first start daycare, and this is generally because a big part of their being and everyday life has involved you. Without you, they may feel scared and that you have abandoned them. Some children don’t grasp the concept that you will be coming back, they just see you leaving and then you’re gone. Being in a place they don’t know with people that are essentially strangers, can be frightening. Worry not, it’s not all doom and gloom. Separation anxiety is typically short-lived, and here’s how you can ease any worries in the meantime:

Talk about daycare in a positive light

You should talk to your child well in advance about going to your local daycare centre. This gives them the chance to familiarise themselves with the idea that mum or dad aren’t going to stay, and they are going to meet new people. The best way to get your child interested in going is by talking about daycare as a new and exciting adventure. Talk with them about it daily and allow them to ask questions. Explain all the fun things that they will get to do while they are there.

Spend some time at the centre with your child before their official first day

Going to a new place with new people can be overwhelming at the best of times for little ones. It can overload their senses, and they don’t know where to look, how to feel or act. Having a couple of drop-in visits before their official day can allow them to get familiar with their educators, their peers, and their surroundings. This can help them associate conversations about daycare with the place they’ve visited rather than the unknown. For their first day, if you can, start with just half a day and progressively leave them there longer as time goes on.

Make drop off short and sweet

On their first day, it’s best to get your child situated and then say your goodbyes. Tell them that you’ll be back in the afternoon to pick them up. Hanging around for too long can give your child a false sense of security that you are there and going to stay with them. If your child gets upset when you go to leave, as hard as it is, don’t cave and take them home with you. This is solidifying their fears by confirming that they have a genuine concern for wanting to leave. Be strong, it does get easier – for both of you! In a few months, this day will be a distant memory. Everyone will be much happier once you’re in the swing of things.

Express concerns or requirements with the centre before the big day

All kids are different, and some will breeze into daycare life without a single tear whereas, for others, it takes much longer to find their footings and a new sense of normal. Educators deal with this every day and know how to comfort little ones who are having a hard time. However, if your child responds to specific things or has special requirements, its best to have a chat with the centre before they start to let them know so they can cater the care to suit.

Bring comforts or a transitional item from home

9 out of 10 children have a comforter of some sort, and if your child has one, feel free to bring it along. Even if they don’t, bringing something that signifies home is a great defence for separation anxiety. It provides continuous reassurance and helps your child to navigate their way through their first day.

Be calm and confident

For some parents, it can be hard to hold it together when their child starts daycare. You must try your best to put on a brave face and remain calm and confident, after all, children mirror their parent’s behaviour, and if they see you getting upset or looking worried, they will likely start too as well. When dropping your child off, speak enthusiastically about their day as you are going there. Seeing you calm and happy can make them feel safe and assured.

It doesn’t last forever

While it can be gut-wrenching to drop your child off on their first day and see them upset, just remember that it generally doesn’t take long for them to settle, and they’ll be playing and socialising in no time. The more they go, the more they get used to it, and it quickly becomes a part of their weekly routine. The first week is usually the hardest, it’s a big transition for both parents and the child, before you know it, separation anxiety will be a thing of the past.

If you are looking for a daycare that offers a stimulating and nurturing environment for your child, look no further than our centre here at Little Saints. Contact us to book a guided tour today!