Stress is typically associated with adults, but it can also affect young children. The general distress, uneasiness and discomfort that can affect a child may result in long-term psychological complications moving forward.
The reality is that kids can become stressed when transitioning into day care. Whether it's their first time being away from you or they're adapting to a new child care centre, the experience can be overwhelming for some kids at first. And while the child care staff are professionally trained to keep children at ease, you may need to lend a helping hand.
As a parent, your child will trust you more with how they think and feel. Here are some useful ways of easing your child's distress when transitioning to day care.
1. Get your child on a predictable home routine
Most day care centres have specific routines that kids need to adjust to. For example, there are meal times, play times, reading times and nap times. If your child isn't used to following a routine while at home, they can easily feel overwhelmed while undergoing care.
Establishing a daily routine is key for your child's adjustment process. A routine helps your child understand what to expect, and they can look forward to specific times of the day. A routine also instils discipline because your child will know what's expected of them at any given time.
2. Focus on what's good about day care
If the day care environment causes your child to feel uneasy, help them think about the positives more than the negatives. Remind your child about the fun toys they can play with and how they can make new friends while at school.
However, avoid overhyping the experience. Be open with your child about what they may struggle with and encourage them to share with you their experiences. In this way, your child will trust that you're ready to support them during their adjustment journey.
3. Reward your child for successfully getting through the day
If your child had a difficult day at school, reward them with something they like. You may buy your child their favourite toy after a long day or let them eat a little more candy. These simple rewards will encourage your child to adapt positively to the new experience.
4. Identify what your child struggles with
In some cases, your child may be struggling to adjust due to a genuine concern. Make sure you carefully listen to what your child says and monitor their behaviour to pick up on any changes. Also, be prepared to contact caregivers at the child care centre and ask them how your child behaves while at school.
When you're looking for a child care centre to take your child to, ask them what other tips they have about making a successful and stressless first day for your child.