Friday, November 23, 2012

My toddler is not adjusting to day care. What do I do?

Dear Kay,

 I recently started my 2 1/2 year old at a daycare two days a week.  He screams and cries when I leave (which I know is normal) but while he is there he is throwing his food, not eating very well and taking the other kids' toys.  He was at home until now and never exhibited these behaviors.
What should I do?

Angel

Dear Angel:

Feel free to peruse through previously answered questions in case I forget something. This is a common question.

First of all a toddler's sense of time is so much different than yours. For you 8 hours is just 8 hours. For them being separated from their primary caregiver for 5 minutes seems like a lifetime. At certain ages it is like you die everyday and then come back for them at pick up.

What I suggest is to make sure their daily routines are very CONSISTENT. They need this to build security. They need this because children have no sense of time/schedules. Routines cue them into what is coming next.

Also, they need reminders of you when they are separated from you. I suggest a piece of clothing, blanket or other familiar item which has your smell on it to be sent daily. Another item is a picture of you pasted on something that he can look at throughout the day.Another suggestion is to pop in routinely to break up his long stay.

As for the daycare providers encourage them to not placate him too much. Reassure him, hold him and then when they put him down to put him right in the middle of all the activity so he can see what is going on with the other children. Sometimes this is the biggest distract from all the crying.

Also, if you don't currently practice daily massages begin to do so consistently. Massage lowers anxiety and increases "happy" hormones.

Best Wishes!

M Kay Keller