(KUTV) It's something that causes anxiety for kids and parents: the first day of daycare or preschool. It's normal to experience some separation anxiety in these situations, but how can you keep the stress in check? Dr. Kyle Smith from the University of Utah School of Medicine and a Psychiatrist at Primary Children's Hospital shares some tips of how parents can ensure a smooth transition to daycare or preschool for your child.
How to help your child:
- Visit the daycare or preschool, get to know the providers and teachers in advance. Your presence helps your child see that they'll be safe there.
- Take pictures of your child during the visit. Use the pictures to make a story about your child going to daycare or preschool.
- Create a routine needed to begin daycare or preschool (getting up earlier, set meal times, etc.)
- Send an object that evokes positive feelings associated with home, such as a stuffed animal or blanket.
- Create a goodbye ritual. This can be a special saying or handshake to help the child understand you're leaving for a time but will come back.
- Take cues from the teacher. They are experienced in separation anxiety and when they signal it's okay that you leave, follow their lead.
How to help yourself:
- Remember, the child looks to you for how to respond to uncertain situations.
- Acknowledge the anxiety you're feeling and talk about your feelings with a friend, relative, or partner.
- Know what helps calm you down. Maybe hiking or reading a book helps you reset. Plan opportunities for that activity in advance to help keep you calm.
- Children's books:
Llama Lamma Misses Mamma by Anna Dewdney
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
- Video: Daniel Tiger (PBS)