These tips are from a preschool teacher so do read carefully.
Hey mum and dad, so your little one has grown in what seems like the blink of an eye and now, he is now longer that helpless little baby, but a bouncy, talkative little one who is just about ready to start preschool.
Starting preschool is a huge milestone, both for parents and children. For parents, it’s a bittersweet moment, knowing their child is embarking on a journey that will see him grow more and more independent.
For children, it’s potentially exciting and scary at the same time. So many new things to learn, new friends to be made and brand new experiences to be had, but his biggest comfort blanket of them all – you – will no longer be by his side at all times.
For both of you, it’s probably the first time you’ll ever be away from each other for this long in a day.
To help you and your child best tackle the first day of preschool, we bring you these tips specially put together for parents by a preschool teacher – Tom Robinson.
Here’s what he has to share with you:
1. No sneaking out of the room
It might be the easy way out of having to watch your little one cry as you leave, but Robinson says this doesn’t solve the problem. Your child cries because he is scared of abandonment and when you sneak out of the room, it only serves to heighten and reinforce this fear.
What to do instead
Say good-bye and “I’ll be back”. Give your child plenty of hugs and kisses before you leave. Ensure you are back on time to pick him up so that he comes to understand that you will never abandon him.
2. Don’t look sad and scared
It’s easy for you to mirror your child’s emotions, especially if he is crying and sad that you are going to leave him. But remember that your child too is influenced by your emotions.
So when you look miserable, this just tells your child that preschool is an unhappy and/or scary place and you are as sad as he is about leaving him there. The last thing you want is for your little one to associate preschool with fear and sadness.
What to do instead
Show positive emotions through your face and body language. Smile and tell them they are safe and there is nothing to be scared of.
Now this might be tough for you to do says Robinson, especially if it’s your first child and you are going to be away from each other for the first time. But you’ll have to learn how to be a good actor.
You can always go to the car and cry and release those emotions. Remember to pack the tissues!
3. Don’t ignore their tears
Even though your child is a ‘big’ preschooler now, he still is a baby in many ways. Crying to express sadness, fear or anxiety is one of those ‘baby’ things he will probably do for a long time to come.
So if your little one breaks down in tears at preschool drop-off, don’t ignore them. Don’t scold him or tell him not to act like a baby either. By doing so, you’re just aggravating the emotions he’s already feeling and adding to them the idea that you are disappointed in him as well.
What to do instead
Acknowledge your child’s tears and fears. Soothe him, give him a cuddle and tell him it’s okay, that he is going to have lots of fun even though he is sad right now.
Remind him again that you (or another caregiver) will be back soon. Sometimes, the promise of a fun activity after school (such as an ice-cream or a trip to the playground) helps create a sense of anticipation and can ease their anxiety.
Parents, the first day of preschool can be overwhelming for all those involved. But remember, soon, your little one will be running through those doors without even a second glance your way.
Then, you’ll be overwhelmed by a whole new set of emotions reminding you of the rollercoaster ride that is parenthood.
Share with us: how did you handle your child’s first day at preschool? Share your tips with us in a comment below.