If you have children in your daycare who become anxious, nervous, or scared when they are separated from a parent, this is a normal part of child development for preschool aged children. Separation anxiety typically peaks between the ages of 12 months and two years. However, sometimes when a child has separation anxiety can be disruptive to the entire daycare.
A daycare owner asks: “Any ideas on how to help a child cope with separation anxiety, when coming into a new daycare? I have a two year old that will just cry randomly throughout the day. I have tried distracting her with games, activities and crafts which helps but then suddenly will begin crying again. Any other providers ever have to deal with the “only child, separation anxiety?”
- I had a little boy like this. Whenever he would cry, I had him sit in a little chair in my reading corner and let him hold this ball that he liked. When he stopped crying he could get up. If he started to cry again later, I’d ask him “do you need to go sit in the chair?” Some days he would and some days he’d say “no” and he’d stop crying. After about a week or so, he stopped crying too much and decided that playing was more fun.
- My son had a bit of separation anxiety when he went to school (he was an only child at the time). My sister (a teacher) suggested sending a picture of us in his backpack, and when he was missing us he could pull out the picture and look at it. Worked like a charm. Maybe will work for this little one
- I had a little guy who cried like he was physically being hurt FOREVER, we tried many things, but our words remained consistent and gave him the space he needed till he was ready to join us. Luckily, we were a small center and were able to give each child plenty of attention when they needed it.
- Have the parent leave right away, lingering makes it worse. Comfort them and talk to them. It will pass.
- We’re actually dealing with this right now. Today will be his 4th day with us. Perhaps, instead of distracting him, try acknowledging how he’s feeling so he can work through his emotions instead of stopping & starting throughout the day. “Oh, it looks like you’re missing daddy right now. Sometimes it’s hard when he’s not here! Remember, he’s coming to get you after nap time & I’m going to keep you safe until he comes back today. I’m right here if you need snuggles or a story. Let me know if you need me.” We had tears at drop off and pick up yesterday (and I anticipate them today) but tear-free the rest of the day!
- Remember, it takes kiddos about 15 days to get used to a new care situation. If they’re coming every day, that’s only 3 weeks! Our new little guy is only here 2 days/week and I’m looking forward to 2 months of steps forward AND back.
- Definitely acknowledge that she misses mom and dad and they will be back (after nap, when they are done work, whatever) but don’t say ‘soon’ if it’s not for a few hours. Have them send photos or a blanky or a stuffed toy or pacifier if she uses them at home. If they speak a different language try to learn a few words you can say related to food and toys so she hears something she’s familiar with. Give lots of hugs and encouragement. She’ll do fine, esp. if she participates in some activities and lets you hold her some.
- I am dealing with this currently with three new little ones. I make sure that mom/dad say good bye and see you later to them and not sneak out. I also request a little something from home the child can bond with and a family picture. Some want to be hugged and held, others want to be by themselves. I just try to have the children play around the new ones and keep saying mommy and daddy will be back soon or keep saying after snack… after nap after playtime… it’s time to go home!
- I give lots of cuddles and try to give them reassurance BEFORE they start to cry again. During transitions is when they usually start to feel nervous, so I will keep the child close with me and have them be my helper when we are moving on from an activity to another. They need to learn they can trust you.
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