How can I help children and parents at drop-off time when the child is new to my program?

Mornings can be tough, especially for families new to child care or starting a new care arrangement. Saying good-bye can be agonizing for children and their parents. Our course, Parents and Child Carehelps you help families prepare for and overcome the separation anxiety many families experience when starting a new program.

Share the following tips with parents on ways they can help their children prepare for separation and make mornings go more smoothly for everyone:

  1. Find a care arrangement they are comfortable with and project a positive attitude about their choice. Young children are attuned to their parents’ feelings. If parents feel anxious, uneasy, or fearful about leaving their child, the child will feel anxious, uneasy, or fearful about being left by their parents.
  2. Explain the arrangement to the child in a positive way. Point out the advantages the school or care facility has for the child—playmates, interesting activities, age-appropriate toys, and fun equipment.
  3. Listen to their child’s feelings about the arrangement, both before and after the child enters care. Assure the child that these feeling are normal and natural. Never scold or ridicule the child for expressions of separation anxiety.
  4. Answer any questions the child has about the care or school arrangement.
  5. Assure the child that he or she will be in the parent’s thoughts even when they are not together.

Some parents develop special rituals to help their child (and themselves) adjust to being separated. The following is an example from Parents and Child Care:

One mother reported that she talks quietly to her young son each morning before leaving home. She kisses both of his hands and explains that these kisses will stay with him all day until she returns. They cannot be washed off. They are there to remind him that she is thinking of him whatever he is doing and hoping that he is happy and having fun. She tells him that if he misses her, he can just think of these kisses and know that she is thinking of him and will come to pick him up at the end of the day.

Through open communication, parents and caregivers can help children understand the separation and have a more fulfilling and enjoyable day!

In addition to lessons on addressing separation anxiety, Parents and Child Care covers many other topics to help you develop and maintain a positive and productive relationship with parents. Topics include the importance of consistency between the child’s home and child care; how to involve parents in learning activities; how to work well with parents who are non-assertive and parents who are aggressive; and how to plan for and conduct meaningful teacher-parent conferences. Want to learn more? Find this course and others on our website.

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