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Child Care and Children's Programs

Preparing your child for change

Most adults resist change, so do some children. Depending on their personality and stage of development, some children will find separation from their parent more difficult than others will. It will take time for your child to get used to the new arrangements.

  • If your child understands some language, talk about the new child-care arrangement, as soon as you have made the decision to go to work yourself.
  • With older children, discuss any fears or misgivings they may have about the change in their life. Speak calmly about the decision. If you are nervous, your children will sense your anxiety, and worry about it more than they might otherwise have done.
  • If possible, take the child to visit your new caregiver.
  • Plan to spend part of the day for the first few days helping the child get used to the new person and surroundings.
  • Be sure the child has some of his/her own toys.
  • Try to explain in a way the child can understand, when you will be coming back. For example, children do not understand time, but they do understand "after lunch" or "after nap" or "when it gets dark."
  • Don't sneak out. This will only make the child more insecure. Give the child a hug and kiss goodbye, saying when you will return.
  • If you are changing child-care arrangements, be sure that the child understands that it isn't because she/he has been bad. Some children will assume responsibility and blame themselves for any changes that are made.

You may expect some of these behaviours, as the child reacts to separation and change:

  • Clinging and refusing to let go.
  • Tantrums.
  • Forgetting toilet training.
  • Eating all the time or not eating.
  • Waking up at night or having bad dreams.
  • Thumb-sucking.
  • Bedwetting.
  • Showing anger and resentment toward you and the rest of the family.

These problems should be temporary. Be loving and understanding, but do not suggest to the child that you can stop working and stay home unless it is a real possibility. Ask the caregiver to spend a little extra time with your child, being attentive, responsive and reassuring. The caregiver should try to keep the child busy, involved and close to him/her.