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What kids really need from you as they head back to preschool and daycare

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2020 hasn’t been easy on anyone, including your little ones. 

Parents have started to send their children back to daycare, preschool and school after weeks of being home. While many children will make the transition without any issues, some will find adjusting to another routine tricky. 

Here are some tips for helping with this transition after isolation.

Normalise things 

In a recent episode of the Happy Families podcast, parenting author Justin Coulson says it’s essential for parents to normalise things again. “The best way we do that is we let our kids know schools are going back. Once we have some level of predictability and we have some sense of what is going to happen for each child, we let them know in a simple matter of fact way.” 

Tell your child about their new routine and what some of the rules will be without scaring them.  “We want to downplay the risk,” he says. “We want them to take basic precautions but not let them catch our concern.”

Help your child feel secure

When children feel secure at home, they’re more comfortable stepping out into the world. For younger children and toddlers, though, it can be difficult for them to express any worries they have, so keep an eye out for non-verbal cues – for example, acting out, or becoming withdrawn or fussy. 

Another common reaction is for kids to revert to acting like a baby, which can also affect their toilet training. If this happens, remember that your child is also dealing with some significant changes, so offer extra cuddles and make sure their emotional needs are being met. Before long, they will return to their ‘big kid’ behaviours. 

Downplay your anxiety

While it’s very typical to feel anxious during a pandemic, parents need to downplay this around their children. Justin says to not send your kids anywhere filled with anxiety. “Send them with confidence, send them with assurance, and let them know that when they are there, there’s just a couple of basic things they need to do so that everybody is safe.”

“If there’s a concern, then there’s going to be chaos, and there will be crying and all sorts of things that make us question everything that’s going on. This can lead to problematic responses in our children that lead to them being unable to function effectively.”

Get into a routine again

Your family routine would have had a shakeup during isolation, but now is the time to make sure bedtimes are back to your regular program. 

According to the Raising Children Network, routines give kids a sense of safety and belonging – not to mention, it helps to keep everyone’s body clocks in time, which will make a big difference when going back to school or preschool.

Do some role play 

Speak to your child’s teachers so you can get an understanding of what to expect – for example, parents might not be allowed inside anymore when dropping off and picking up their children. You can then relay this information to your child and even practise using role playing – this way, there are no surprises. 

It might also help to create a special goodbye routine. We love this idea of drawing a hug button on your child’s hand – when pressed, it sends a hug to the other person. 

Read more about this magic button in post below.

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