Feeling good about child care

Written by kim cotton on . Posted in all, On Health & Happiness

childcare

Leaving your little one at child care can make any parent feel anxious, but there are simple ways to make it easier on you both.

I was wracked with guilt for years for putting my daughter into child care so I could work. I always felt I should have been around more and yet I also knew my little girl was really happy there. She developed amazing friends, learnt new skills and games, and, in turn, I was supported. Most of all my daughter had beautiful carers/educators who continued with her each year until she left to move onto big school. All was good.

Having reviewed Secure Transitions: Supporting Children to Feel Secure, Confident and included, I realise now the child care path was the right one for me – the carers knew what they were doing far beyond what I knew and were experts in helping deal with the most emotionally charged parts of the day – when I was having to leave my darling in the harried rush of the morning and reconnecting with her at the day’s end.

If you’re struggling with your child moving into child care consider the points included in the Secure Transitions booklet. It may help you understand a little more about how to help your child adjust to a new and healthy experience without too much anguish, and relieve you of feeling guilty (the way I did).

Helping your child adjust to child care

spirited-mama---little-coquThe Secure Transition authors liken the moment when you drop your child off to child care to when two little row boats come up to each other and the child has to step from your boat into the boat of the carer. It is a moment of negotiation. It can be stressful for you and your child but when you and the carer work together to maker the hand-over explicit, your child feels safe as they step from one boat to another. The connection is made. ‘Now I can step out confidently to play because I know I can always come back to my carer who is responsible for me’, the book exemplifies.

Before your child arrives at child care

Talking with your child about which staff member they will see when they arrive at child care can generate a sense of familiarity and predictability their day. When you get to the centre bring your child to their carer to demonstrate you are confident in saying goodbye.

In turn, when an educator or carer has a secure relationship with your child – they will know your child by name, greet them when they arrive, reassure them of their day and make them feel safe. This provides your child with solid ground to move into the rest of their day.

Spirited Mama - Floor cushionSaying goodbye to your child for the day

When it comes to saying goodbye make this a two-way conversation between you and the carer:

Here’s how Secure Transitions authors pitch it:

Mother to her child Sara: “I will be thinking about you today. Joan is here to look after you and keep you safe for me”.

Mother to carer: “Joan will you look after Sara today?’

Carer to Mother and Sara: “Yes Sara, I’m pleased I get to keep you safe and play with you until mummy comes back. You can always come back to me when you need me”.

Saying to a carer that they’ll keep your child safe may seem strange, but children understand its meaning, and it creates predictability for your child.

“What is important is how the message, ‘We can keep you safe’, is being conveyed, rather than the particular words used,” the authors state.

“Saying this out loud creates very clear expectations and tells your child that he or she is in the mind of two big people who care for [them]”. Similarly, with babies a tone of voice that conveys care, conviction and firmness of purpose gives the feeling that you and the carer have everything under control and your infant can relax.

Collecting your child at the end of the day

Backpacks-and-running-freeChildren have their own style of reconnecting at the end of the day. When you see your child, have your cuddle or greeting ready for them, the authors state. When they are ready to talk you can ask them about what they enjoyed rather than ask them whether they have been good or what they have made or achieved. Your child will feel less pressure of any kind of expectations. The authors say this helps them to organise their feelings to get back with you.

Listening to your child’s story frees you up to join in with them and enjoy them and also connect easily with the childcare staff to find out what happened during their day. It’s a way of supporting your little one to step back into your row boat and help gently set up for another lovely day on the lake.

Credit

The ideas described in Secure Transition: Supporting children to feel secure, confident and included come from the Attachment Matters project run by Robyn Dolby, Eilish Hughes and Belinda Friezer. The project examined how the relationships between educators and children support children’s learning and social competence with their peers. You can buy the booklet at Early Childhood Australia or email [email protected]

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Comments (13)

  • Emily @ Have A Laugh On Me

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    I have found that it’s best not to press children in to lots of questions, they come out with stories in their own time! I had to get rid of the guilt years ago, especially as someone who works from home. Great read xx

    Reply

    • Kim

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      Thanks Ems. Those stories are precious when they finally come although I know my daughter albeit older now can ramble for a while till I have to ask her to stop – then I feel bad 🙂

      Reply

  • Lydia C. Lee

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    Having seen the great things my child got out of child care, and the longing my 2nd child had to go to child care when I pulled him out when I stopped working, I can honestly say the guilt is wasted, and it is more about us and our ‘stuff’ than about the child (and the child’s wellbeing). But I guess the guilt is a good thing in a way, as it means we’re thinking about our child…

    Reply

    • Kim

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      Mmm I think guilt is wasted too but it can hang around for a long time before it softens. Thanks for popping by Lydia, Kim x

      Reply

  • Kate

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    I haven’t put my babies in day care yet but I’ve started exploring it. This is valuable info, I’m sure when it comes time, it will be harder for me than for my boys x

    Reply

    • Kim

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      Well for me it was but it’s great to have time to explore the right centre for your family too. You’ll know because you’ll have a sense of delight, and that your boys are well looked after. I hope it goes really well.

      Reply

  • Bec | Mumma Tells

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    I have dipped my big toe into this world with Big. While I was pregnant, she went for a play at the gym crèche while I worked out. A couple of hours a week. Totally harder for me than her.

    Reply

    • Kim

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      I know, exactly how I felt. I bet she’s doing absolutely beautifully too.

      Reply

  • Eva @ The Multitasking Mummy

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    This post is very timely for me as I will be putting my son in for one day a week beginning next week and I’m a little nervous. Thank you.

    Reply

  • Rita @ The Crafty Expat

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    I forwarded this post to my friend Kim. I thought it was a really interesting read. She said to me that she was not looking forward to send her son to child care because she felt guilty even though her son seemed to actually enjoy child care (her son went to child care for a little while before the holiday season).

    Reply

    • Kim

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      Thank you honey for passing the article on. I guess being a mum is loaded with so many responsibilities, and e,optionally we feel we should do them all so well that guilt just sits waiting in the wings any time we need anything beyond ourselves to support our roles. I hope your friend does ok. In time she’ll look back and feel good because its such a logical thing – if her son is thriving, its all good. I’m getting there but it’s a process. X

      Reply

  • older mum in a muddle

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    I remember feeling nervous about putting Little A into childcare with a childminder one day a week when she was only ten months old, and it turned out to be a great decision, not only was her child minder lovely, but she was around other toddlers the same age. It worked out really well. X

    Reply

    • Kim

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      I know, it normally does work out well, and it’s us who feel bad. I think mixing perspective into the scenario can make a big difference, it’s being able to let go of the guilt to do it x

      Reply

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