Transitioning to daycare can be an overwhelming event for a toddler who is used to being at home. For many families, daycare is necessary and can be challenging for a child to accept. Crying, tantrums, or resistance are often difficulties parents face when a toddler is having difficulty separating from their parents. Here are some tips to help your toddler adjust to daycare:
1. Talk About Daycare Positively
Preparing a toddler for an upcoming change can help make transitions smoother. When introducing them to a new environment outside of the home, like daycare, talk to them as if it is the most exciting thing ever. Your positive and enthusiastic attitude will help them feel more confident. Tell your toddler about all the toys they will play with, all the friends they will make, or projects they will do. Explain and reassure your child that daycare is a good, safe, and fun place to be.
Finding something familiar that your child enjoys is also a helpful coping technique. For example, if your child likes swinging on their swing set at home, point out the daycare may have swings, too. If your child likes to play with toy cars, tell them to look for toy cars while they are playing. Follow-up and ask your child about the swings or the toy cars, and if they liked playing with them. Ask your child about other familiar things and what things were different; you may help your child realize they genuinely enjoyed their experience.
2. Send A Favorite Things Picture
If your daycare does not do this already, consider sending a picture of your child's favorite things. When your child misses you, is sad, or upset, they can refer to the picture and see things that make them happy. Pictures of family members, pets, or favorite toys can be glued on a colorful piece of paper. Although not required, laminating the picture can be helpful to preserve it.
3. Set Up A Playdate With A Classmate
Making friends in a new environment can be a challenge for anyone, especially a toddler. Once your child has been in daycare a few days, ask the providers who your child enjoys playing with. Find and befriend a fellow parent at pick-up times and suggest a playdate outside of daycare to build their friendship.
Remember, daycare is meant to be fun for kids and to keep them happy. For more information about which daycare service is best for your family, contact your local daycare provider, like Lighthouse Academy or another location.