It’s the start of the year and we have all gone back to work, school, kindy, child care. For some, this is a welcome return to routine, for others it’s not so smooth. The freedoms of the holidays can be hard to let go of.
For the new starters, it can be quite a shock to the system. Even the most excited and developmentally ready children can find after the honeymoon period passes some struggles when they realise, OMG, you mean I have to go there EVERY DAY!
How can you support your child AND yourself through this transition?
Recognise it for what it is, this is a shift, you are increasing the circle of influence, allowing other people to become important to your child. That can be hard for parents to do. You are stretching the cord and as it pulls, for some, that can be painful. But it is an important step to take for your child and you.
Build a relationship with these new people in your child’s life, the carer, teacher, let them know you see that you are now a team. This serves a couple of purposes; as you get to know them better, you can start to build some trust between you. They will grow in their knowledge of you and your family and have better understanding of how they can best support your child in their environment.
Show your child that you have confidence in their ability to thrive in this new environment and that you like their teacher/carer. This will help your child to feel safe and build their own confidence and sense of independence. You want to encourage their self-talk message…
”If mum and dad think I can do this, maybe I can!”
At drop off times, try to spend a few minutes settling your child, help them to find something interesting to do, then be clear that you are leaving but that you will be back when the day is done. Try not to drag out the goodbye if your child is struggling. If they see you are distressed, they will start to doubt if this is a good place to be and that can exacerbate the situation, speak calmly and kindly and reassure them it’s all going to be ok.
When you pick up your child at the end of the day spend a few minutes with them exploring what they did, show an interest in how they spent their day. Not only will this show you care about what they got up to and what they care about, it will give you conversation starters for you to ask deeper questions. Before too long they’ll want to fob you off with the “nothing” response to your what did you do today? questions. But if you get in early you can establish a healthy conversation habit for all their schooling career.
If you are finding it all really hard, try to catch up with your partner or a friend to talk it over and keep your struggles away from you child. It’s not your child’s job to make it easy for you, it’s your job to make it easy for them, try not to place that pressure on them.