Transitioning your child to daycare can be a difficult and traumatic situation for both of you. Often, your child simply can't handle the separation and may panic. Transitioning to a daycare setting is often easier if you use a comfort item to ease their fears.
Comfort Objects Are Psychologically Important
Children often place a lot of psychological importance on a specific toy and use it for comfort. Think of Linus from Peanuts: although he is one of the most intelligent and wisest children in the comic strip, he is never without his comfort blanket. It brings him psychological relief and makes him feel happy and satisfied. This isn't a random concept created by Charles Schultz: it is a real psychological concept.
Comfort items, such as a toy or a blanket, often take the psychological place of a parent when a child is alone. Your child likely has a favorite toy that they always have on them whenever they play. This is likely their comfort item. Sending it with them to their daycare center can help them transition more successfully, especially if they are in the toddler stage of development.
Talk to the Daycare in Advance
Most daycare centers will be more than okay with accepting an item from your home, as long as you follow proper sanitation procedures before sending it. This includes ensuring that it is clean and has been disinfected of potential bacteria and diseases. They are simply trying to protect the other children in the center from picking up dangerous diseases.
Most centers will also clean and disinfect the item before sending it back with your child to prevent spreading disease in this way. Some centers may be concerned about the potential for fights between children regarding the child's comfort item, but these will be resolved at the center to ensure that your child retains their comfort item.
Using the Comfort Object Your First Day
The best way to use a comfort toy is to take it with you and your child to their first day of daycare and spend an hour or two with them. Let them interact with their caregivers and play with them using the comfort item. After your child seems comfortable, say goodbye and leave without fanfare. This will be very difficult, but it must be done.
During the day, your child may miss you or have a difficult time processing your absence. They are likely to turn to their comfort item to help relieve their anxiety. When you show up, make a big show of hugging and kissing them and talking about how much you missed them. That will make them feel loved and help relieve some anxiety.
The many benefits of a comfort item make them an important tool in helping your child learn to not only accept, but enjoy, a daycare setting. Once they are a little older and fully acclimated to daycare, it is possible to remove the comfort item from their lives to promote stronger independence.
Talk to a daycare center like Starbright Early Learning Center for more tips on helping your child through their first day of daycare.