TVOParents has partnered with the Infant Mental Health Promotion at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children to educate parents about the importance of healthy brain development in the early years of a child's life.
You will see tips and videos from SickKids on a weekly basis for the next year.
For the month of September we have tips tackling back to school. For many young children, change can be a challenge. It is important to help kids manage stress because when young children experience prolonged and frequent stress it can have an impact on their brain development.
The good news is, there are many things parents and caregivers can do to help reduce stress.
Your Baby/Toddler (Birth to 36 months):
At this age, the transition is likely to be from home to a daycare or other caregiver. This transition can be stressful for you and your child. Some separation anxiety is normal and, in fact, is expected, especially for babies and toddlers. At this age, they want to spend their time with you - you are their favourite toy! Up to the age of 3, children may have a tough time adapting to new surroundings, to different people, and to new toys that they may not have played with before. Here’s how you can help make the transition easier:
- Bring your child to the daycare centre for visits a couple weeks before he actually starts. Visits should be short at first with you there, but as he gets familiar with his surroundings and the new people in his life, you can leave him a little bit longer each time you go.
- Let your child bring something from home to help comfort her when you leave; having something familiar from home will help her enjoy her new surroundings more.
- Establish a schedule and keep it consistent, so that your child knows what to expect every day.
- When you drop your child off encourage him to have a great day, give him a hug and kiss good-bye and remind him that you will see him later!
Dropping your child off at daycare the first few times is hard on both of you, but it gets easier every day. After a while, you may even notice that your child is looking forward to going to the centre, and it will be easier for her to adapt to new things in the future.
Your Preschooler (36 months to 48 months):
At this age, the transition can be to a daycare or to school – or to both! The good news is your child is old enough to have a conversation with about where he is going, and what he’ll be doing at school and/or the daycare. But it can still be a tough transition. Preschoolers are still very reliant on their parents, and want to be with them above anyone else. Here’s how you can help make the transition easier:
- Check to see if any of the kids in your neighbourhood, or that your child already knows, are going to be in the same class. Knowing that at least one friend will be there will help with first day jitters!
- Let your child pick out a new backpack, choose her outfit for the first day of school, help pack the lunch. Participation helps your child get excited about the day.
- Talk to your child about what he thinks will happen… will he maybe make a new friend? Will he get to play with some new toys, or learn a new song?
Like any transition, leaving your child at school for the first time can be challenging. You may worry about her. But don’t forget she’ll be making new friends, and learning so many new things, and she’ll want to share all of that with you. Make sure to take time to talk about her day, every day.
Want more tips? Read all of the tips from our partnership with Infant Mental Health Promotion at SickKids.