We all go through changes that are incredibly hard sometimes. As adults, we can foresee what’s to come and try and make logical sense of it.
Change is great! Change is healthy! Toddlers? They are not used to it.
They know you. They know your home (their home), and they have no idea what their life will entail, the copious amounts of learning they will undertake, and how early that starts in life.
Sending your child to daycare is something you think of for months before it happens.
You know what’s ahead, and you prepare yourself for it, picking the right one and making sure you are happy with it before you send your little one in.
The day comes, and they cry. This is a common occurrence when you drop your baby off at daycare for the first time.
They may even come back from daycare cranky. But what happens past the stage where they should be settled, when your toddler is still uncertain, resisting, and not adjusting to daycare?
What you will learn:
- Why you have a toddler not adjusting to daycare
- 5 things you can do to help
Why Is My Toddler Not Adjusting To Daycare?
If you have a toddler not adjusting to daycare, these are the 5 most common reasons.
The first thing you might need to consider would be a not-so-positive change, especially if your toddler loved a particular member of staff. For example, has a carer left the daycare? Has your child’s key worker been swapped with somebody else? Is there even adequate staff?
By covering the staff issue, you will be able to determine if a shift within your toddler’s daycare has impacted them.
A staff shuffle could be the reason why you have a toddler not adjusting to daycare!
On the subject of change – has your toddler gone from one room to another? In daycare settings, there are often younger rooms than preschool rooms.
This shift in dynamics can affect children in ways that you can’t imagine, especially if they had befriended one or more children in younger years that they are no longer able to play with.
It is possible that your toddler, and I know this may come as a shock, is missing you! You, the caregiver. You, the primary person in their lives. You, the constant smiler who gives them everything they need from a hug to a diaper change, to food and a warm bath. ‘Where are you? Why are you taking me to this place? How long do I have to be here for?’
And so on.
They go from being all yours to being in a room with thirty other kids all vying for attention, squabbling over toys, or having to wait for their snack.
It’s quite an eye-opening experience and one that takes some adjusting.
A slightly more concerning factor is the possibility that a child at your toddler’s daycare may be causing some upset or unease. It isn’t about bullying – this is just daycare.
But it could be that an overly confident child could be all up in your little one’s personal space without realizing it. Maybe they sit next to each other at lunch.
It could be as simple as another child wanting to play with yours, but this is met with zero reciprocation.
Perhaps You Were Wrong
As much as it may pain you to admit it, if you can safely rule out the above reasons why you have a toddler not adjusting to daycare, it might be wise to consider that the setting you placed them in isn’t for them.
This, of course, should only be considered after all other reasons have been exhausted.
5 Things You Can Do To Help Your Child Adjust To Daycare
Half the battle is digging through your situation and making discoveries that you may not like. The vast majority of parents want the best for their children, especially when they are so young and unable to specify what is bothering them.
What comes next? You have a better idea of the cause for concern, and now you need to take the next step.
After gaining insight into why you have a toddler not adjusting to daycare, you now have several options for your next steps.
The aim of the game is for your toddler to be happy. Happy toddler, happy parent, right?
Arrange A Meeting
The most important thing you can do initially is arrange a meeting at the daycare. By letting them know your concerns or how unsettled your toddler is, they can take extra care to give the attention your little one needs.
Additionally, they can offer you a proper insight into their day by giving feedback on how their mood is while out of your care. You may be surprised to learn that your toddler seems quite content.
Either way, it is beneficial to let them know your worries, look out for signs, and work closely with you and your child.
Let Your Toddler Feel In Control
If you have a toddler not adjusting to daycare, you could give them more control. Those desperate mornings leave you laden with guilt as you do the drop-off and wish there was more you could do to help are possible!
Little things can make a huge difference, and if you wanted to offer some control to your toddler, you could start by providing them the choice of what to wear for their day.
What would they like for breakfast? Would they want to take their comfort blanket or teddy in today? What sort of special tea or lunch would they like for a treat?
Distractions and comforts are there for the taking. And they do make a difference!
Children have an excellent habit of absorbing their environment, so if you are positive, they will be too. So easy ways to do this is just having out loud and very natural conversations with your partner about how lovely your child’s daycare is, then involving your child.
As cheesy as it sounds, it gives them something to think about, and if they can see you feel it is safe and lovely, they will build up that same level of positivity.
Be consistent, though. If you groan within earshot – you can guarantee they will hear you!
Say Bye – And Go!
Dropping and running is one of the best things you can do for your child. You may think it is more productive and caring to stay and soothe those worrisome tears, but what you are doing is drawing out the inevitable separation.
I know it goes against our nurturing nature to leave an upset child in the arms of somebody you barely know, but that somebody is a trusted caregiver in a safe setting, used to this type of emotion. They will know what to do.
Your job is to leave your child with a kiss and a cuddle, and say, ‘See you soon.’
Arrange Playdates With Other Parents
An excellent step forward is considering a play date or two with other children who attend your toddler’s daycare. These dates can help you notice how your toddler interacts with other children and drop them off; you can rest assured that there will be one or two friendly faces greeting them when they arrive.
Doing this encourages friendships and shows your toddler that it is alright to make friends and play with other children, especially if they are more on the shy side.
If you are getting an uncertain feeling from your child’s daycare, it is essential to stop it and figure out your next step. If that is arranging a meeting, ensure you get what you want from it.
After all, you are trying to turn them from a toddler not adjusting to daycare into a toddler who loves to go to daycare, right?
If you are still unsatisfied afterward, it may be time to decide whether or not the current daycare is the right one for your little one.
You will be amazed at the effect little changes have on your toddler’s well-being, and by spotting the signs, you can help.
It is also worth considering that your toddler is onto something! For instance, 5-year-old children who attended many hours at daycare showed more signs of behavioral problems.