Child Care and Separation Anxiety
Children sense a parent’s comfort level. So the first thing for you to do is check out your daycare and make sure you are truly comfortable leaving your child there. If you are concerned and worried this will be passed directly to your child. Be truly happy with what you are providing for your child
Practicing is always a good idea. You can practice a routine at home and then stick to that routine at day care. It’s good to let your day care know what routine you are going to use. For example, if you are going to walk to the front door only and sign the child in. Janice Warren would say, “We are going to get out of the car and go in. I will sign the paper then; I will give you one hug and one kiss. I will then go get in the car and I will be back to get you.”
The daycare worker can watch for the one hug and one kiss and then approach the child to continue on with the day.
Perhaps your day care picks the child up from the car. You might say “I will blow you a kiss and honk the horn once and then I will leave and I will come back and get you.”
Sometimes there are lots of little horn toots at the daycare, but for some kids it seems to helpful.
It’s not the ritual; it’s that you tell the child what is going to happen. You practice it. You make it a non-negotiable item. They become very familiar and are prepared for the separation.
Remember to leave and not linger. This is very important. Many times as soon as parents are out of sight the kids relax and settle down. As long as they have you as an audience they will be tempted to seek your sympathy. Every child loves to have the attention of a parent and at this age it doesn’t matter if the attention is negative. They still crave it.
If you are one who must cry, please do it in your car and well out of sight. Anxiety fosters more anxiety. Don’t apologize for leaving them. That would imply you shouldn’t be doing it.
When you come back please don’t tell the child how much you missed them. I learned this from a child, who must have had a parent much smarter than me. One of her friends was leaving the day care and they started exclaiming how much they had missed each other. Alisha, all of four years old, consoled them.
“I am really sorry for you guys. My mom and dad don’t miss me at all. They just love me and they get mom and dad things done and I just love them and get my school and playtime done while I am here. Then we can really be together later.”