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. If your won­der­ing “How can I help chil­dren and par­ents at child­care drop-off time?” Our course, Par­ents and Child Care, can help you help fam­i­lies pre­pare for and over­come the sep­a­ra­tion anx­i­ety many fam­i­lies expe­ri­ence when start­ing a new program.

Helpful Tips

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.

Goodbye Rituals

Addi­tion­al­ly, 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.

Look­ing for ways to reduce oth­er com­mon stres­sors in child­care? Check out our blog How to Man­age Stress in Child­care.

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