When Separation Anxiety Strikes Your Day Care
Its easy to get caught up in the business side of running your own day care. But its a good idea to remember the core component of any day care and that is a population of very young children. You do all you can to prepare your day care so you can provide for the medical, nutritional, educational and social needs of the kids while they are in your care. But the fact remains that young children are emotional creatures and dealing with emotional issues is part of taking care of them.
Separation anxiety is a common event that you will face when dealing with a new child entering your day care community. There are actually two sides of separation anxiety. There is of course the home sickness the child will exhibit when he or she is trying to adapt to the new situation. But there is also a separation anxiety in the parent that surfaces in a lot of ways. You may see emotional outbursts from a mom at drop off or it might surface in frequent phone calls to check up on the child or to even talk to their youngster.
One way to reduce the impact of how the parents of your day care kids are hit by separation anxiety is early counseling and dialog about the problem. Many parents will deny that they will have those emotions when dropping their kids off. But if this is a first time experience of using day care for a parent, it will be an emotion that mom or dad will experience, even if nothing is said.
There are a number of ways you can help the parent feel more at ease about leaving their child at day care. You might suggest that the parents consider using the day care for a day for free and that mom or dad or both take a day off to hang around, watch how the day is organized, witness their little one enjoying time with the other kids and see the professionalism, warmth and caring of the staff. That one day may be worth the day off to help the parents get to a comfort level about where they are leaving their child.
That free day may also help the child get accustomed to being in this new environment which could help reduce the separation anxiety that child will inevitably feel during the first few weeks as he or she is getting used to day care. But there are other steps to take before the first day to help the child ease into day care with reduced stress including…
. Have mom and dad talk about day care with the child so the little one is not taken by surprise.
. If there is a little friend the child already knows at day care, make sure that connection is understood and even that the child is greeted at the car by the friend and escorted to the playground.
. Allow mom or dad to “pop in” every so often for the first week or two to increase the comfort level.
. Make sure the child sees the day care workers talking to mom and dad so the child knows these are trusted adults.
. Encourage the day care workers to bond with specific children so when anxiety hits, that special worker can be a comfort to that child.
When separation anxiety hits hard at the day care facility when mom or dad are not there, its good to not overlook or belittle the child. It could be the result of anxiety over a game or a conflict with another child. And when the anxious child wants mom or dad to help with the difficulty, not seeing that parent can cause anxiety or even panic.
Above all the workers should remain calm. Be comforting, understanding and accommodating. If the child needs to be away from the group for a little while, make that possible so he or she can be in a smaller setting with trusted adults and children the child feels at ease with until the anxiety passes. Just remember that fear and anxiety will grow when the child senses it in others but if he or she senses calm, warmth and acceptance, that goes a long way to reducing separation anxiety in any child just getting used to the big new scary world of day care.
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