Reconnecting after a day in childcare
Author :Jo Whitfield , for ‘Spot A Childcare’
Reconnecting after separation
So many parents have experienced it. After a day at work, you go to collect your child from childcare, only to be greeted by a screaming nightmare. Your child doesn’t seem at all pleased to see you, refuses to get their shoes on, and has to be carried out to the car mid-tantrum. “He’s been fine all day”, the carer tells you. “It’s just when you arrived…..”
What is going on here?
Your child may well have had a great day. However, a great many things may have happened during that day, and without the safety of your presence, they may not have felt able to express their feelings about these things. So instead, they store them up, bubbling beneath the surface, ready to erupt as soon as they see you. It can be lots of little things, like a broken Lego model, or a little bump to the knee. But they all add up over the course of the day, and your child is going to off-load them onto you all in one go!
So what can we do?
Be prepared to have your patience tested. Manage your expectations. It may not always be the happy reunion you’d like, but your child needs your calm and loving presence, so take a deep breath.
If your child is displaying some challenging behaviour, don’t hang around chatting to the carer or to other parents while your child pulls various stunts in an effort to gain your attention, and things become increasingly fraught. Remember that transitions can be difficult for children at the best of times. If you need to discuss anything with the carer, arrange to give her a call later.
The aim is to reconnect with your child as soon as possible. You may only have a little time left to be together that day, and you don’t want to spend it fighting. Connection is the key to stopping that challenging behaviour, and gaining some cooperation.
So give your child your undivided attention for a while. You may be busy and there may be lots to do, but just investing ten minutes now could save a lot of aggravation later. Once a connection is re-established, things are more far more likely to settle down and go more smoothly, so do something your child likes to do with you. If they enjoy rough and tumble play this can be a great way to reconnect as it involves lots of physical contact, and usually some giggles too. Imaginary play can also be very useful, and can often bring out any things that may be troubling your child, as it allows them to re-enact and explore things. Above all, let your child enjoy having you all to themselves for a while.
A day in childcare can be fun, but can also be exhausting for a child, both mentally and physically. If their behavior is horrible, they must be feeling horrible. So try to respond with the love and compassion that they need. Hopefully you’ll soon return to that place of attuned connection, where you can enjoy being with each other.