Articles by " Children’s Garden Day School"

The Dos and Don’ts of Separation Anxiety

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Separation Anxiety can be tough on children newly entering school age.The crying, the screaming, the kicking, the knotted stomach. Dealing with separation issues are all expected feelings and our children may also have issues with saying goodbye. You have researched, interviewed and toured your daycare center and now it’s time for you and your child to find a way to say goodbye and let your caregivers do their job. Separation anxiety is a natural part of your child’s attachment and relationship with you; it isn’t something you need to fix. But below are some Do’s and Don’ts regarding separation anxiety that hopefully you’ll find helpful.

 

The Dos…

  • Transition you child into their new daycare setting.  After you have picked your facility, bring your child for a tour. Have them meet their new teacher and explore their classroom. See if it’s possible to start the first day or two part-time and ease them into their new environment.
  • Talk with your child about you childcare arrangement. Be specific. Today you are going to your classroom, hang your coat on your hook, put your lunch in the cubby, do circle time and play with your friends at the Playdough table.
  • Say goodbye. It’s the most important Do on this list. Put on a big smile, give your child a hug and a kiss, say goodbye and let them start their daycare day. See the Don’ts for what not to do when saying goodbye.
  • Establish a drop-off ritual. Children crave routines and schedules, so create one when going to daycare. Maybe a secret handshake, an Eskimo kiss, stealing their nose or collaborate on a secret phrase. Whatever you decide, use it. Every day!
  • Be honest. Talk to you child about what they are feeling and why. Ask them what makes them upset at preschool to see if anything can easily be overcome by you or the teacher.  Talk to your child about all the new things they will learn and friends they will make. Read some books with your child about preschool and separation. Here are just a few examples:
  • Leave your child with an item from home. Check with your daycare provider to see if you could leave a picture of your child’s family, a stuffed animal to nap with or a cherished blanket to sleep with. By leaving your child with a part of home, you will remind your little learner of home.
  • Be prepared for regressions. When you think you have overcome the toughest period of the anxiety, a long weekend or holiday break will sneak up and you may find yourself back to the worst of separation issues. This is normal. Be patient. After some time things should get back to normal.

And now the Don’ts…

  • Don’t sneak out without saying goodbye. This is easier for you, but not for your child or your child’s teacher. Additionally, sneaking out, while seemingly sensible, can damage the trust your child has with you.
  • Never let them see you sweat (Or even worse, cry!). Put on your game face. Your child takes their cues from you, so don’t show that you are nervous or anxious. Don’t give them a “boo-boo face” when saying goodbye. If you feel the waterworks coming on, hold it in until you are back in your car. Being a strong mommy or daddy will ease your child’s fears.
  • Try to avoid prolonging your exit. Remember: it’s only for a few hours. With a big smile, give them a quick hug and kiss and then leave. Remember – game face!
  • Don’t come right back after you’ve made your exit. If you forgot something, call the school and arrange to collect it when you pickup your child. If you bravely left your screaming child and you want to see if they have calmed down, wait 30 minutes and call the school to find out. Coming back confuses your child about the new process and is likely to upset you too.

Separation anxiety can’t be fixed. It’s a process that you and your child work together through to form an established routine and plan. Your child will learn to trust that you will always come back for them and they will also learn that you will always be with them, even if you are not actually with them during school hours.

What do you think? Has your child struggled with separation anxiety? What did you do to comfort your worried little one?

Photo credit: Interchangeable Parts

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10 Ways to Stop Your Child From Biting

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Childhood teethingAs parents, we are always so proud of our little ones’ achievements. But unless your child is at a Twilight audition, there is nothing more disturbing or embarrassing than being at the park or at a playmate’s house and seeing your toddler’s teeth embedded in the arm of another child. As you extract your mini vampire and offer your mortified apologies to the victim’s parents, remember you are not alone. When you sit in the car wondering where your parenting skill have failed, hopefully this blog post gives you reference as to what to do next.

Before looking at the steps you can take to stop your biting child however, we first have to look a little but at some of the root causes for childhood biting. So, let’s dig in (pun intended).

 

  • They are in pain. Often times, when babies bite it is because they are teething and are trying to relieve the pain of their swollen gums.
  • They are exploring. Toddlers use their eyes, hands and mouth to explore the world surrounding them. Most of what they can pick up ends in their mouths and biting these object is also part of their method of exploring.
  • They are experimenting. Hand-in-hand with exploration, is experimentation. Toddlers will often try many things, including biting, to see what will happen or what reaction they get from their parents.
  • They are frustrated. Young children who have not mastered their vocal communications skills yet and are unable to say what they want, may express their needs and wants through an aggressive chomp. Additionally, children who crave attention may bite to get noticed. After all, negative attention is still attention, isn’t it?
  • They are defending themselves. If children feel threatened by other children, for example, and cannot express their anxiety vocally, they may create a safety zone by biting anyone that gets too close.

Now that we have some idea as to why your child might be biting, let’s explore more deeply what we can do to prevent and ultimately put an end this undesirable behavior.

  1. If your baby is teething, carry a teething ring or washcloth with you to sooth her gums so she won’t have to look for an attractive arm to nibble on until relief arrives.
  2. It sounds obvious, but paying a little more attention can go a long way. If you have determined what triggers cause you child to bite, avoid putting him in that situation.  If there is a particular playmate that does not share well, observe closely and prepare to intervene if your biter has his toy taken.  If he bites more when he is overtired, delay that play date until after your little guy has had a nap.
  3. Calmly and quickly remind your child that biting is not allowed, nor accepted. Biting is typically reactionary, so getting excited or yelling can be as reactionary and therefore, may not be the best approach to mitigating the problem. Instead, try a quick, compassionately-delivered phrase to acknowledge your biting child’s feelings, while never condoning the behavior. Saying something like, “I know you’re upset, but biting hurts people and it’s not okay to hurt people” can go a long way toward easily ending the behavior.
  4. Respond immediately with consequences connected to the act of biting. If your child bites another child over a toy, remove the toy and make it clear that the toy will not be played with for a while.
  5. Insist that your biting child immediate apologize to the person he has bitten or their parents. This helps not only express remorse, but it also teaches your little learner about remorse and consequences. If possible, lavish the bitten child with positive attention.
  6. Have your child try to express her feelings. Teach her to say “no thank you” when someone does something that may provoke her to bite. Helping your child learn verbal alternatives to biting, promotes early conflict resolution skills building.
  7. Remove your child from the situation. Make it clear that if he does not apologize and stop biting that you will leave immediately and go home.
  8. Talk to your child about why it is wrong to cause other people pain. Now might be a great time to introduce the golden rule.
  9. After the incident is over, talk to you child about what happened and what else could have been done to get what he wanted. Let him try to come up with ideas on his own, but provide suggestions if he is having trouble.
  10. Give your child extra attention and praise when she does use her words to express herself.  If she uses an alternative method of dealing with her frustrations, express your happiness with her ability to find new, healthy ways to get her needs met. Be specific too. Tell her how proud you were to see her walk away when her sister wouldn’t share a doll. Tell her what a great decision she made not to bite. Parents may spend unequal amounts of time redirecting an undesirable behavior when compared to the time spent on praising a desired one.

Although it may be an early instinct, most experts agree that biting children to show them how it feels, is not a good idea. Children model their behavior after their parents and may be confused as to why they cannot bite, but their parents can. Even worse, if your child gets bitten one day in daycare and tells the teacher she bit because, “…that’s what Mom and Dad did to me,” you might find this method of behavior modification coming back to — well — bite you.

So what do you think? Did I leave something out? What methods do you use to stop biting? Is there a behavior you’d like to see your child stop exhibiting? Tell us about it, we’d love to know.

Photo Credit By: Michiel Thomas

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