Helping Your Child Adjust to Daycare

Ann DouglasYou've just started your two-year-old in a new childcare arrangement. You're thrilled with his new care provider, but he doesn't want anything to do with her. He protests loudly when it's time for you to say good-bye, and you drive to work feeling miserable about the entire situation.

No miracle cure exists for the daycare blues that many children experience when starting a new arrangement, but there is plenty you can do to make the transition as stress-free as possible for your child. Here are a few tips.

• Send along a favorite stuffed animal. Your child may find it easier to adjust to a particular care program having a favored toy to hold when he's feeling anxious or upset.

• Arrive at daycare at least 15 minutes ahead of time so that you can help your child settle into an activity before you have to head off to work. He'll be less likely to protest your departure if he's having fun at the arts-and-crafts table or measuring sand in the sandbox.

• Pay attention to your own body language when saying good-bye to your child. If you're feeling uncertain about the new arrangement, you could be conveying some of your own ambivalence and anxiety to your little one.

• Resist the temptation to sneak out the door when your child isn't looking. You'll simply create more problems for both of you. Fearing that you're going to disappear again, your child may become unwilling to let you out of his sight for a minute -- even when the two of you are at home.

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