It was a very interesting discussion on Dubai Eye last week around how to settle in your toddler at the nursery. There is no formula or answer that fits all.
It really depends on how your child is cooping and some children take no time to adapt and others need a little more time to trust the teachers and feel comfortable. The best thing to do is to work with your toddler to make sure that she or he has a great time during the day.
However, there are some tips that can help. I still find it hard every Sunday to drop off my little two year old, Rania, at the nursery after spending hours during the weekend together. She finds it harder to let go and, even after 1.5 years at the nursery, Sundays are still dramatic!
So, here are my two cents on how to settle in your toddler at their nursery – if your child is already at a chosen nursery, then you will probably know a lot of the following, but if not, I hope these tips help. Make sure you visit the different nurseries in the UAE you are considering before making a choice
1. Staggered entry
Don’t feel shy to be the one of the only parents who ask to stay back for a little while with your child on their first day. I personally stayed with Rania for three days for an hour each day. I struggle with the idea of telling her that it is ok to be left with a complete stranger one their first day of nursery.
2. Routine and consistency
Kids love routine and do very well when they know what to expect. Try and keep consistency in how and when you drop off your child, what they bring to nursery and the time you pick them up.
3. Don’t show you are upset
You will be surprised how your toddler can sense how you feel and any sign of distress or sadness on your side will make him or her insecure and thus adding a layer of fear – try and stay calm and explain that you will be back and now it is time to have fun with the other kids
4. Be strong
It is very important that you stay strong. I know it is heartbreaking to see them cry and ask for you. The hardest part of my day is the nursery drop and see her upset that I am leaving. The feeling of abandonment really strong and all I can think about is comforting her but unfortunately, the longer I stay, the longer it will take for her to detach and be ok with me leaving. There is nothing more important than being comforting at the beginning but, as your toddler gets used to their new environment, it is important to ‘drop and go’.
5. Their comfort toy or blanket
There are two school of thoughts on allowing them to bring their favorite toy or blanket to nursery. I am still torn about whether it is right or wrong but I have given in – however I do find that the moment I get to nursery, she automatically asks for her blanket – which is not ideal. However if it helps at the beginning to settle them in, it is not a bad idea.