Starting a new childcare routine can be a stressful time for you and your child. You might worry that they won't settle in, and they might be anxious about being away from you in a new environment. Using the tips below, you can help make the transition as smooth as possible.
The techniques you use now will be helpful throughout your child's development—for example, when they start a new school or club. The key is to set a positive example for your child to follow, prepare them fully for what to expect, and allow them a few reassuring items from home to take along. Soon, you'll find your child is desperate to get back to their child-minder for more fun!
Set a positive example
Your child will take their cues from you when it comes to dealing with new experiences. If you seem anxious or afraid, then chances are they will too. Make sure that you are always positive when talking about the new child-minder, and give your child specific examples of all the fun they are going to have. If they'll be looked after alongside other children, talk about how lucky they are to have lots of new friends to play with. If the child-minder has equipment for activities you don't do at home, mention that. For example, "Won't it be fun to try out painting?" Don't ask your child if they're worried or afraid unless they bring the topic up first.
Prepare your child for the new experience
Taking photographs of your child-minder's home and garden is an excellent way to prepare them for what to expect. Take some time to look through the pictures with your child, and ask them to point out things that capture their attention. You can emphasize good points, for example, "Yes, it will be fun to have a big garden to run around in," and reassure them about any issues, saying things like, "Don't worry, I'll help you to hang up your coat when we arrive." If your child isn't used to being around new people, then try taking them along to a few playgroups or clubs before they start with the child-minder. This will help them to build their social skills and become accustomed to being in a busy group environment.
Let them take a favourite toy/comforter
Being in a new place can be quite overwhelming for young children, and having something that reminds them of home provides some much-needed reassurance. Allow them to take a dummy, a small stuffed toy, or a blanket that smells like home. Your child-minder should have a safe area when this can be stored, ready for your child to use any time they need to. If your child is taking a doll or teddy, make sure it's small enough to hold in one hand—that leaves them a free hand to get on with other activities.