What Do You Do If Your Child Is Not Adjusting To Daycare?

Little girl with curly hair sits on grass and cries into her arms.
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Adjusting to new settings, such as daycare or preschool, may be difficult for many children. Separation anxiety can begin as early as 8 months and is very common. Even so, watching your child scream and cry as you try to say goodbye is saddening, frustrating and confusing for both parents and children. It is important to be patient during these transitions and understand that your child may take longer to adjust than you hoped.

If a few weeks pass and your child continues to cry throughout the day, here are a few things to think about:

  • Work on attachment/separation issues with your child in other areas. This may or may not have anything to do with the daycare specifically, but more about her fear of being away from her mom/dad. Hire babysitters at home on occasion and always reassure your child that you will always pick them up at the end of the day.
  • Maybe a daycare setting isn't the right option for your child. Try a home care or a part-time nanny or even a college student. Different kids need different places. Plus, she may not attend the day care center enough to fit in and become comfortable so you may wish to at least temporarily increase her hours of attendance.
  • Contact a local resource/child provider referral and locate a day care setting that meets your family's needs. They should be able to narrow the search.
  • Find a day care that promotes your basic beliefs and try it. Many centers have pets or special interests or activities. Try and locate a match that works with your child's favorite things.
  • Ask the daycare center to offer tips and suggestions for you to try. Perhaps a special attachment could be encouraged, such as getting a laminated classroom photo of her friends and teacher at day care that she can be a reference when she is not at day care.

    Updated by Jill Ceder