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How to Prepare Your Toddler For Daycare

How to Prepare Your Child For a Positive Daycare Experience

Is your toddler entering a structured childcare program for the first time? The transition from being home with mom or another family member to being in a daycare setting can be tough for little ones, even when the caregivers are top notch and the environment is loving. To help your toddler (and you!) with the transition, real moms share five tips on starting daycare on the right foot.

1. Ease into it.

A slow, part-time introduction to a daycare or preschool environment often works best for many kids. Lisa S. believes that "preparation goes a long way to easing a child's concerns" and shared that a three-day-per-week structured program was the right approach for her daughter. Similarly, Jenn H. went through an adjustment period with her two daughters starting two-day-a-week preschool during their toddler years. This approach can even be applied to full-time care — start your little one part-time for the first few weeks so they can adjust easier.

2. Set a positive tone.

Your own attitude can do a lot to set the stage for your toddler. Julie S. warns moms to be careful about transferring anxiety onto kids. Of course, your excitement and positive energy about the school and teachers is also important. Melanie C. believes toddlers pick up on how you feel about the teachers when they see you interact: "Try and develop a friendship with the teachers, which ultimately your child [will] see and hopefully will try to mimic."

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3. Don't linger.

An overwhelming number of both moms and childcare providers who weighed in on this this topic said it's best to establish a simple, quick routine at drop-off time. Veronica D. recommended that you "make your goodbyes quick even if they're crying and yelling . . . It may sound clinical, perhaps even cold, but lingering to try and quell their sadness or fears makes it worse."

4. Leave a comfort item.

If your daycare allows it, give your child a comfort object to help them during moments of separation anxiety. Moira, a teacher and mom who has gone through this transition many times with many kids, suggested "something of yours" plus telling your child "she can keep it safe for you until you get back to pick her up." This helps children trust and remember "that you will always come back to get them."

Diana M. created a comfort item with even more of a connection for her daughter: a laminated picture of herself and her daughter together. "She carried that picture in her bag for two years, but it having it made her feel better."

5. Keep drop-off quick.

Even with the best preparation, your child is likely to be upset, at least in the beginning, when you leave them at daycare. This can be a heart-wrenching time of separation anxiety for you and your child, as plenty of moms will vouch. Emma B., whose mother runs a preschool, said that she believes about 75 percent of kids "put on the tears for Mum at drop off time," but that most are fine within minutes: "It's normally about boundaries and trying to get their own way, and sometimes a little anxiety."

Carol W. said she felt much better after talking to her daughter's preschool teachers about how the rest of the day went: "It broke my heart to leave her. However, she was always smiling when I picked her up. The teachers told me she'd cry for five or 10 minutes after I left, then she was fine."

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

Image Source: Getty / Westend61
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