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by Emma Jenner
My 20-month-old son just started daycare a couple of weeks ago for the first time. I have been a stay-at-home mom since he was born, but started to go back to college. He only goes to the daycare two days a week for about five hours. Every time I drop him off, he cries hysterically and says “Momma, Momma” over and over again. I tell him I will be back soon, give him a kiss, and wave good bye, then leave. Is there anything I can do to make this easier for him? I have tried a song, leaving something that reminds him of me with him there, a favorite toy, and telling him before we go where he is going and reassuring that mommy will be back. What do I do?
Childcare expert Emma Jenner answers …
Separation anxiety is very normal. It’s something that all children go through at various stages. Especially since you’ve been a stay-at-home mum and this is your first time leaving him, it will be hard for you both. Here are a few pointers to help you and your son with the transition:
• Prepare your son. Let him know what the plan is for the day. Tell him he’ll be going to daycare, that you’re going to college. You’ll drop him off and you’ll be back to pick him up again. Remind him that, “mummy always comes back.” Communication is key; he understands more than you think he does.
• Be enthusiastic about daycare and let him know what he has to look forward to – his friends, the teacher, new toys, books and games. Be encouraging and let him know what a fun time he’ll have.
• Distract him. Once you’re at daycare, get him engrossed with a toy or activity. The teacher will be able to help you and perhaps he’ll be so busy playing he won’t mind you leaving.
• Always say goodbye. As tempting as it may be to sneak out to avoid the crying, this will only make matters worse. Have a goodbye routine, give a quick hug and kiss, say you’ll be back to pick him up soon and then leave. Do not linger or drag out your goodbye. This will only make it worse.
Know that your child is OK, and chances are, as soon as you’re out of sight his crying will stop. Learning how to cope with this feeling is something every child has to learn and a bit of crying is just part of the process. It will get better in time. The more you leave him, the easier the transition will be for you both. Once he learns how to cope without you, and learns that you leave and always come back, he’ll feel safe and secure and the crying will eventually subside.
Emma Jenner (www.emmaschildren.com) has worked with children of all ages, is the child sleep, behavior and parenting expert from “Take Home Nanny” on TLC, and founder of Emma’s Children. Emma is now offering a “Gr8 Kids, Gr8 Parents” online membership.
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