So much has changed since I had my first child almost 21 years ago, but what doesn’t change is the desire of most parents and carers to ‘get it right’; to understand the needs of their children and to try their utmost to find ways to navigate the world they’re raising their children in whilst maintaining some kind of balance. It can be a lonely business and the culture we live in – and as this is a community paper, I’m talking specifically about the location from which I write in North London – can make it hard to reach out, or admit to having doubts or fears.
Once upon a time we met up at the village well and shared news and troubles and perhaps had a better sense that ours was not the only child who wouldn’t sleep through the night!
With this in mind over the next few articles, I’ll be thinking about various questions that have come up regularly in my practice or conversations I have with parents and offering ideas that you may like to use yourself.
This week, the question on my mind came from a parent of a 3 year old child…
How do I settle her into nursery?
Help them to learn that people return. This is why peepo and hide and seek are such important games and why young children play them almost obsessively.
Start with short separations. Develop a parting routine and talk about it beforehand with your child. For example you might agree that you will help your child to hang up their coat, change into their indoor shoes and then give them three kisses; one on the forehead, and one on each cheek. Try to focus on your child at this point and not be distracted by other things.
Leave a comfort object with them. My own children found it helpful if it was something that belonged to their dad or me – in one case it was a favourite sweater as it reinforced the idea that we’d be back for it and them!
Help your child understand what’s happening; even children in the early stages of language acquisition understand a lot more than they can verbalise. There are some lovely books that deal with settling in and separation and the Owl Bookshop or Kentish Town Library can help with that.
Don’t give in to the temptation to sneak out. This creates mistrust in the child and only protects you from having to hear their distress. If this is unbearable for you, you need to find ways to cope that don’t involve cheating your child. Talk to family, a friend, a partner or a counsellor. Don’t be late. Enough said!
Mish Cromer can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
She is available for Parenting support