Does your child exhibit separation anxiety at daycare drop-off? Do you
spend more than fifteen minutes struggling to calm your child's fears?
You are not alone. All parents at one time or another have experienced
guilt, fear and remorse at the very thought of leaving their hysterical
child in the arms of a non-relative.
Separation anxiety affects both parents and children. Children display
their discontent and fears by throwing temper trantrums, clinging onto
parents for long periods and ignoring attempts by their daycare provider
to calm their fears. Parents display separation anxiety by hesitating to
exit the daycare, clinging onto their child for prolonged periods and performing
disappearing acts when their child is not looking.
To help ease separation anxiety, change must start with the parents.
Parents must first calm their own fears and insecurities. When children
see parents more relaxed and confident at drop-off they begin to slowly
warm up to their daycare provider and adjust to their new daycare setting.
Parents can plan ahead of time by using some of these creative ideas to
help ease separation anxiety.
Temporary Tatoos ...
Visit your local grocery store and ask your child to choose a temporary
tatoo of his favorite cartoon character. At bedtime discuss going to daycare
with your child. Offer to place the tatoo on his hand as a special reminder
that you are with him always. Remind him at drop-off that when he looks
at the tatoo, he will know that you love him dearly and will soon pick
him up after work.
Popsicle Treats ...
Popsicles, especially on hot days, are a great treat for children. Purchase
a pack with a variety of primary and secondary colors. Use the popsicles
to teach him about secondary colors. Show him that two primary-colored
popsicles can combine to form a secondary-colored popsicle. At daycare
drop-off ask your child which color he would like to have at the end of
the day. Ask him which flavor he thinks is associated with that color.
Reassure him that he will be receiving his treat at the end of the day
and that you will share precious time with him after returning from work.
Surprise Boxes ...
Keep surprise boxes in your vehicle. Explain to your child that he may
open the surpise box if he is good throughout the week. The surprise box
may contain baby photos of your child, his favorite storybook, a favorite
snack and a simple craft item that he can quickly put together.
Healthy Snacks ...
Visit your local grocery store with your child and ask him to choose
a variety of healthy kid snacks that he will pack and carry to daycare.
Many children who are adjusting to daycare need something familiar to hold
onto as they try to feel secure and comfortable being away from parents.
If your daycare provider prepares meals, gradually reduce the number of
snacks in your child's lunch box until your child starts eating the foods
prepared at the daycare.
Bedtime Stories ...
Visit your local library and borrow books that focus on children going
to daycare. Read these books at bedtime. From the pictures in the storybook
your child will see other children going to daycare and will understand
that he is not the only one experiencing separation anxiety. Ask your child
about his day at daycare and try to determine if he is adjusting slowly
or not adjusting at all. After a week or two most children adjust nicely
to new daycare settings. For some children it may take longer.
If you suspect that your child is still not adjusting try to drop by
the daycare unannounced to see if your child is interacting with the other
kids. Look at his interaction with the daycare provider and the types of
activities he is engaged in. Discuss any of your concerns with your daycare
provider and allow time for adjustment. If there is no change after about
a week or two try looking into other childcare options which may be better
suitable for your child.
About The Author
Nicole Brekelbaum is the director at Young Achievers Inc. - A home-based
learning center for aspiring youth located in Pflugerville, Texas. She
has been providing childcare in her home since her career switch from working
engineer to childcare director and mom. Visit her company's website at