There may be tears (yours as well as your baby’s) and tantrums, but these top tips can help your child prep for his big day at nursery
It’s nearly here, he’s about to start nursery, or going back after the Christmas break, but flash-forwards of her all alone in an unfamiliar place are making you well up. Whether you’re nervous she won’t settle in or worried she’ll begin WW3, a few tricks can help her off to the smoothest start.
1. Be positive
Even the most easy-going mum can find the whole nursery thing pretty emosh. In fact, our stress can rub off on children making your usually happy child resistant to a new change. She’ll only mirror your stress so stay perky, keep a smile on your face and act as if you’re going on a fun adventure.
2. Master the drop off
You’ve dropped her off at the playpen and sneaking out the door, until: ‘Muuuummmmyyyy!’ Cue the stream of tears and wails only dogs and dolphins can match. But don’t be too hard on her as there’s a good reason why your toddler is crying, she hasn’t yet developed the cognitive ability to remember if and when you’ll return. Spend a couple of hours (or even a day or two) with your toddler if she’s new to the nursery before you leave her alone, it’ll help her get used to the room and other children.
3. Let him take a reminder
Help her adjust by allowing her to take along a familiar toy. Why not let her keep her favourite teddy bear or comfort blanket and tell her that if she’s missing mum she should give it a squeeze. Clear it with the staff beforehand to make sure they’re happy with the plan and don’t take it away from her.
4. Stop snatching
She’s grabbing every toy like Armageddon’s hit. Oh the shame! Children don’t learn to share until they’re around three years old. So if there are sandpit duels over spades, quit worrying, as other little rascals are probably at it too. Praise your tot whenever she manages to share a toy and if other children are trotting over, make sure there are enough playthings to go round.
5. Beat tantrums
A tantrumming toddler may make you want to scream and stomp your feet, too. But try not to react. In fact, ignore her behaviour completely. ‘Playing up to her tantrums may make them worse,’ says parenting expert Lorraine Thomas, author of Brilliantly Behaved Toddler, Quercus, £9.99. ‘A wobbly may be a cry for attention, so shouting or even politely asking her to stop won’t work.’ Calmly tell her she can’t play if she carries on crying – the threat should be enough to calm her down.
6. Try to relax
Just like getting used to any other new experience in life – the best cure is time. While some kids may take to nursery straight away, others can spend the first couple of weeks missing home. Talk through his day and remind her you’ll see her later. To reassure your own nerves, talk to the other staff and mums to see how other kids are getting on during the day.
How do you cope if your toddler doesn’t want to go to nursery?