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How to Help an Anxious Child Settle in at After School Daycare

by Marsha Hudson

After school daycare can be a godsend for parents who work full time, as well as a lot of fun for kids. However, if your child is naturally anxious about change, you might worry about how they'll settle in. Starting after school daycare can feel like a big change of routine if your child is used to coming home and spending time with you. They might worry about socializing with the other children and navigating a new place, and could feel abandoned by you. It's important to take extra care to ease your child into their new routine to ensure things go as smoothly as possible. Follow the tips below for a daycare experience that's free from tears and tantrums.

Start gradually if possible

If your child is used to spending every night at home, suddenly going to daily after school daycare might come as a bit of a shock. If possible, try to start your child at daycare gradually. For example, have them attend daycare for one night a week at first, then two, until you're up to a full week. This allows them get used to the new environment and settle in at a relaxed pace. You may even find that they enjoy daycare so much that they ask to attend more often, particularly if they have friends that go every day.

Let them take items from home

Having a few items from home can be really reassuring for your child. A favourite teddy bear could be comforting, while a book or game gives them a familiar activity to do. If choosing the soft toy option, make it a small toy your child can hold in one hand. This means they'll still have the other hand free to get involved with activities, without letting go of teddy. Check the rules around bringing toys to daycare beforehand, and make sure that your child doesn't take anything they'd be heartbroken to lose.

Answer their questions

Letting your child ask lots of questions about after school daycare is the best way to find out what their concerns might be. If they ask questions like, "Who will I play with?" then you can respond with helpful suggestions like, "Katie from your class will be there, you could play with her." Their worries could be more broad, like, "Why can't I come home after school anymore?" If this is the case, let your child know that you love spending time with them, but have to work to make money for the family. Let them know that you'll still be spending plenty of time together at weekends, and that after school daycare is a great way to try out new activities and make friends.

For more information, contact companies like Atlantis Play Centre.