Is it time to head back to work? Get your little one (and yes, yourself) ready for the day she needs to go to child care.
WORDS TEO KUAN YEE
1. Request for Settling-in Sessions
Some centres may offer a couple of settling-in sessions, where you can accompany your child for about an hour to observe the classroom proceedings for the first time, and gradually ease him into the group before he starts attending school regularly.
2. Do Not Worry
Being a mother, you may be worried about junior embarking on a new milestone. However, be mindful that your feelings of uncertainty about junior adapting to the new environment may influence him to think likewise. Instead, you should sound happy that your baby is growing up and getting ready for child care, no matter how much you think you are going to miss him.
3. Prepare a Dedicated Backpack
Have a checklist of the items to pack and bring daily to school. Check with the child care centre what items that they will provide so that you know which items to pack. The essentials include an extra set of clothes (in case he has any incidents), water bottle or feeding bottle (if your child still drinks formula milk from it), snacks (on standby in case your child does not take to the food offered), diapers (in sufficient quantity to last through the day), sleeping gear such as a blanket or bedsheet (which you may need to bring home for washing), any medication with the dosages clearly indicated and attached. For outdoor play, you may need to prepare mosquito repellent patches and a sunhat. Label all the items with your child’s name.
4. Bring a Comfort Item
To help junior ease into the new environment, let him bring a comfort item from home.
Other than being a source of reassurance or reminder of the safety and
security of home, the special toy will help to break the ice and help his teachers or classmates
strike up a conversation with him and help ease him into the new environment.
Pack his favourite plush toy or pillow into the backpack to bring to school every day so that he can use it to lull to sleep or relax during rest time.
5. Be Casual at Drop Off
When you drop junior off at school, give him a quick hug and tell him that you will pick him up at dismissal time, with a short goodbye. He may start to cry and cling on to you – it may sound callous but try not to look upset if he cries. Instead, be casual about your departure and avoid hanging around as this will signal to junior that you are reluctant to leave him.
After you leave, his teacher will distract him with toys and activities which will calm him down. Some children may seem inconsolable due to separation anxiety. You need to persevere and have faith that the teachers will be able to calm him down. His teachers will probably let you know later on that your child stopped crying the moment you stepped out of the door. It is normal for you to feel doubtful or even overwhelmed when handling your child’s separation anxiety.
Just be aware that his display of separation anxiety is part and parcel of his growth
phase and will be temporary.
Hang in there, and you are a step closer to helping your child hone important skills towards independence.
After a few weeks, junior should develop a bond with his teachers and slowly ease into a more hassle-free drop-off. However, in cases where junior seems to have trouble fitting in even after some time, it may because the environment may not be a good fit. For instance, if your child feels overwhelmed by a lot of children, he may fare better in a setting with fewer children so you may want to consider another childcare centre or arrangement as a last but necessary resort.