Toddler can sometimes have a hard time feeling comfortable in new places. They can also have attachment to their home and their parents, making a toddler daycare program a challenge. if your toddler is reluctant to go to daycare, there are some things you can do to help them feel more confident.
Here are some simple tips to help a clingy child adjust to daycare.
1. Establish a drop off routine.
Children are comforted by dependable routines. Each day when you drop your child off, use the same routine. You might, for example, hang up a coat, put an item in your child's cubby, have a high five, a hug, or even a silly song before you leave. Doing the same thing each day helps a child to recognize that this is a safe, trustworthy space. The drop off routine will eventually become habit, and so will going to daycare. It may even become something your child looks forward to.
2. Bring something from home.
Toddlers become attached to objects that bring them security. Don't dissuade your child from bringing a blanket, stuffed animal, pillow, or favorite toy to daycare. Just having that object there can make hard days seem easier for kids.
3. Choose a daycare with varied programs.
A simple "go and play" structure sometimes isn't enough for toddlers who need more attention. Consider looking for a daycare that provides outdoor experiences, sensory play, and interaction with older peers. If your toddler has a sibling, see if they can't attend daycare together to help provide more stability and a sense of belonging.
4. Be sure your child is getting enough sleep.
Many times, clingy behavior is made worse when a child's basic needs aren't being met. Try to make sure your child gets to bed early. Do what you can to establish healthy sleep patterns, including a before bedtime routine. Healthier food and limiting sugary snacks before bedtime can also make for better rest. Finally, try not to allow too much screen time in the afternoon or evening, as these can make it harder for children to fall asleep and stay asleep.
5. Come on volunteer days.
As a special treat, you might take a day off work if possible to be a parent volunteer. This way, you get to help your toddler learn more about daycare while you are there. They will feel more safe exploring and meeting new children with you there as a back-up.