By Emma Thomas – Full-time mum to a 2 year old, part-time blogger and writer, with a background as a Kindy Teacher/Director
The new year means new beginnings, for us and for our children! Your child might be starting daycare, moving rooms or increasing their day. This might bring excitement or stress depending on your child. Just like us some children enjoy change and embrace new challenges while others are more reluctant. Transitions can be tricky, so here are some ideas to help you support your child and give them the best start to the year.
We give children the best chance of embracing new opportunities when they are well prepared. Take them to visit their new centre or new room. Allow them time to get to know their educators and begin to develop relationships.
Let them choose their new bag and help them to practice packing and unpacking it around the house. Adjusting to new situations takes time, after a few weeks most children will have settled and become comfortable with their new educators and environment.
Talk, Talk, Talk
Talk to your child about what is happening in their lives. Even babies and very young children benefit from us communicating with them, simply, clearly and regularly. Talking with our children is never a waste of time, they understand much more than we realise.
Children will need to hear the same thing again and again. Toddlers and preschoolers may ask the same questions over and over, even though we’ve already answered them. This is part of their processing.
Try and use the same language so children will be able to repeat it back.
“This week you will go to daycare. I will go to work. You will play with some other children and Ms Educator will look after you. I will pick you up in the afternoon.”
Try and start with shorter days while your child is settling in.
January can be an emotional time of year, both for our children and us. We are coming down from the excitement of Christmas and New Years, while also trying to settle back into our regular routines, throw in some changes and you might get some big emotions displayed.
Children tend to process their emotions loudy and when it suits them (which may not suit us!). Our job is to be there and accept the emotions. We can help by naming the feelings and providing our child with a safe space to express themselves. When we allow children to express themselves fully they will be able to move through their big feelings more quickly. We can stay strong in our limits and decisions while still accepting and acknowledging our child’s feelings. Often children just want to be heard!
Too Much at Once
Most people don’t cope well with lots of changes at once! The new year might seem like a good time to start day care, change your child’s room or begin toilet training. However too many changes at once can be overwhelming and contribute to behaviour regressions.
Children thrive with a consistent routine so where possible introduce one change at a time.
Sometimes this isn’t possible, such as moving house and starting at a new centre. When this happens we will need to be extra supportive of our child.
Separation anxiety is normal, here are some ideas you can try to support your child.
- Read books like ‘The Invisible String’ or ‘The Kissing Hand’
- Pack their dummy, blankie, or comfort toy.
- Let your child’s educator know how to best support them, distract and play outside? Or cuddle and blankie?
- Keep a family photo in their bag for when they miss you.
- Give your child something special of yours to look after and give back to you in the afternoon.
- Draw a love heart on your child’s hand and one on your hand, they can press the heart during the day to send you a message.
- When it’s time to go say goodbye clearly and quickly. Then leave! Don’t hang around once you’ve said goodbye.
- Plan a special activity to do after pick up time. Continuing to build your relationship will help your child feel more secure when you are apart.
New beginnings can be tricky, but with a little thought, you can make sure your child has the best start to the year.