Transitions, Trust, and Triumph
Whether your toddler is starting into their first childcare setting or transitioning classrooms, the following are tips for transitions…to make this experience easier for both your child and you!
Establish Trust First
It is essential that you (yes, that is correct, you) first build trust with the teacher or caregiver. This is known as transfer of trust. Once you confirm that “this is an okay place”, your child will affirm that this is okay and the transfer of trust will occur from you to your child. This is the first requirement for a successful transition.
Be sure to visit the new program and make sure you are comfortable with the program’s philosophy, teaching team, and environment. Take your time and look for an appropriate time to also visit with your child.
Always Say Goodbye
It is hard to see your child cry and sometimes a departure seems a bit easier if we “just sneak out”. Truth is, sneaking out feels more like abandonment to a child. Goodbyes mean that you leave and that you will come back. Yes, your child may cry knowing that you are leaving, but you will be developing trust and an effective transition.
Establish a Routine
Now that you are ready to leave, be sure to be consistent and follow through. To ease the process, a routine may be helpful. For example, three hugs and three kisses, or saying I love you in sign language as you walk out the door. Whatever is special and works for your child, just be sure to follow through. Three hugs and three kisses, goodbye, and then leave. Period. Knowing what happens next and being a part of the process is essential for children.
Try a Transitional Object
Sometimes bringing a “part of home” is helpful. A small picture of your family kept in your child’s pocket, a favorite toy (be sure that it is appropriate for your child’s new environment), or your child’s blanket may assist in creating an effective transition for the child.
Be sure to think about the appropriateness of the item you and your child choose in regards to the age of your child and the type of program that your child is transitioning to.
Encourage your child to talk about their feelings and/or help them find the words. An example might be: “Are you feeling sad because mommy is leaving? It is okay to feel sad…” (especially important for toddlers or other children who are non-verbal).
And finally, remember, it may take time. Consistently attending a program and building relationships takes time. Be patient and supportive, communicate with the new teacher or caregiver.
Transitions are about building trust and these tips guarantee triumph!