How do I get my toddler to adjust to daycare?
Q: My 27-month old started daycare for the first time a week ago. She hates it, yells, cries and wines every morning from the time we wake up until I drop her off. How do I help her get adjusted to the change?
A: Separation can be very difficult for toddlers. Children should be eased into a separation with parents gradually spending less and less time at the daycare center in order for the child to feel a sense of security and safety. There are a few things you can do to help her adjust.
- Let your child get familiar with other children in the center by planning a playgroup or playdate on the weekends.
- If possible, have the child-care provider come to your house for a visit.
- Talk with your child about her feelings.
- Avoid big changes at home, such as getting a new pet, having visitors, starting potty training, switching to a big bed, or redecorating your child’s room.
- Let your child bring a transitional object like a lovey, pacifier, blanket, or stuffed animal.
- Give your child a book of family photos to take with her.
- If you cannot stay around until your child is comfortable in the new daycare, see if you can get another family member to go in your place.
- Make sure to let your child know when you are coming back, when she will go home, who will feed her, who will take care of her, and so on.
- Read lots of books about day care and transitions.
- Always say good-bye. Never sneak away from your child!
- Once you do say good-bye, leave right away. Do not hover anxiously by the door. Show your child that you have confidence in the care providers.
Answered by Dr. Jenn Berman