Dealing With Separation Anxiety in Child Care
Back in May, I wrote about Elliott’s separation anxiety in child care. It’s been somewhat of an ongoing challenge, the things I mentioned I’ve been trying haven’t really worked because he still cries, screams, kicks and latches onto the gate because he simply does not want to go through the door of the day care centre.
The only thing that makes me feel a little better is the support from the teachers at the centre and their reassurance that his crying episodes last all of 5 minutes after I leave and then he goes on to have a wonderful day. The carers take photos and make a scrapbook and it’s so comforting seeing him playing with the other children, building blocks, painting and enjoying himself.
But I still want to figure out why he gets so emotionally worked up in the mornings. It sometimes starts at home when he knows exactly where he’s going and if not at home, it starts once we turn down the street his daycare centre is in.
Since my last post, he’s moved to two days per week and on consecutive days. I really thought this would make things easier for him, but it hasn’t made much of a difference. I look at all the other children who happily skip into daycare, excited to leave their parents and play with the other children and I wonder why my son isn’t that way. Is it something I’m doing wrong or is he putting on a show for me?
I remember talking on the parenting panel on 612 ABC radio Brisbane a couple of months back and we spoke about the topic of separation anxiety. There was another fellow on the panel with me, his boys were teenagers but his suggestion was that if a child doesn’t like a daycare centre, to move them to another one. I just don’t think it’s as easy as that. It’s actually a huge risk, especially when Elliott can’t exactly talk to me about it and tell me why he’s upset. From what I can see, he is going to a perfectly good and supportive centre and it’s likely that the exact same thing will happen at another centre and who knows, will the other centre be just as good?
I’ve done some more research to find a couple of other ideas I can implement to make this process less stressful for both of us. This is what I think I might try next.
Other ideas for dealing with my toddler’s separation anxiety
- Leaving him with some sort of memento to remind him of me. It can’t be something that he’s going to lose at daycare, so I love the idea of drawing a picture on his hand and I draw the same on mine, so everytime he looks at it, he will remember me.
- Prepare him the night before by telling him what’s going to happen in the morning and what he’ll be doing the next day.
- Being more specific. I know I’ve been telling him ‘I’ll be back this afternoon’ but I’ve since realised that he still doesn’t have a concept of time so I have to be more specific and explain it in a way he’ll understand. So instead, I’m going to try something like ‘I’ll be back to pick you up after you have your afternoon tea’.