Guardian Childcare & Education

5 Tips to Make Drop-offs Easier

6th April 2017

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Dropping your kids at childcare can be equal parts happy and harrowing. You’ve earned this time. You’re going to remember that you’re a productive human; eat with both hands; discuss your bowel movements with precisely no one for a full eight hours. Your tiny human gets to roll around in sand and paint with their fingers in a wonderfully decked out environment. It’s supposed to be win-win for all.

So why are they clinging to you like their dearest lives depend on it?

Sadly, not all children are chuffed to begin their early learning journey. Change, especially when it involves saying goodbye to Mum and Dad, can be tough. But there are a few things you can do to make your farewell a little less distressing.

Say goodbye

It might be tempting to sneak off once you see that your child has settled in to an activity (especially if you anticipate tears), however this can cause panic when they do look up to see that you’ve suddenly gone. Leaving without a proper goodbye creates a sense that this is the place where Mummy/Daddy takes me then disappears.

Emphasise where you are going and when you’ll be back. We commonly believe that young children are oblivious to what’s happening around them, but this isn’t necessarily true. Your kids really will appreciate you trying to explain what’s going on. For example, “I’m going to work for a little while. You’re going to play then have a nap. After snacks, I’ll be back to get you.”

Don’t linger

Drawing things out, especially if your child is upset, can exacerbate things. Try to keep the drop-off less than 30 minutes. In most cases, it’s not going to get any better after that point, especially if your child can still see you. It’s terribly hard, but say goodbye and let your child recover their emotions in the arms of a carer with whom they trust. Don’t go back in, even in your child is upset. Instead, give the centre a call half an hour later to make sure the tears have stopped.

Remember that your child feeds off your emotions

The morning drop-off can be just as hard for parents, however our kids often perceive and reflect our own emotions. Make sure your body language says, “You’re going to have the best day!” Smile, keep your hugs warm and friendly, and try not to be overcome with anguish. If you’re showing signs of distress, chances are your child won’t feel comfortable enough to say goodbye.

Bring a comforter or security object from home

These can be transitional objects that can make the separation easier for children. It might be a favourite toy or even something of yours, such as scarf or photo album, to help them feel close to you throughout the day.

Talk positively about your child’s day

Talk about the process of saying goodbye and what your child might encounter that day. What sorts of activities will there be? Which carers will they see? Who will they play with? We all need to rush to work but it’s important to give your child time to settle in. Their feelings of trepidation are very real, but showing them that you trust the environment, that you know and greet each carer, and that their first experience away from home will be a positive one, will make all the difference in their early learning journey.

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