Ways of Helping Children Separate
The time to prepare a child for separation is before she begins child care. Parents can give children practice with separation by arranging for short visits with family or neighbors, through which the children learn that they can manage without their parents and that their parents always come back. Teachers can help pave the way for a smooth entry into child care by providing different entry options that meet the needs of different families. Here are some options that are used in different child care settings:
- Children visit the center for one or two days with their parents before staying there alone.
- Children become acquainted ahead of time with their teachers through home and/or center visits.
- Entry into child care is staggered so that only one new child enters at a time; this way, teachers can give the new child their full attention.
- During the first week of school, parents can stay with their children until the children are ready to say good-bye.
- Parents are instructed on the importance of saying good-bye cheerfully and then leaving without turning back.
While separation continues to be a major issue for older toddlers and their parents, 2- to 3-year-olds are struggling with another issue: They want desperately to hold on to the secure feeling of being cared for by adoring parents and caregivers. At the same time, they have a strong need to assert their own will and make their own decisions. Their favorite word is "No," and their favorite phrase is "I do it myself." They are torn between their need to hold tight to a protective hand and their need to break away and explore the world in their own ways and on their own terms.
Toddlers between 2 and 3 years old are torn between wanting to be coddled and protected and wanting to be autonomous. Although parents and teachers may be exasperated by what appears to be negative behavior, these toddlers are not being ornery. They are working hard to assert their independence and defend their right to make their own decisions and to do things in their own ways. At the same time, they are not ready to give up their dependency on adults, who are the base of their security.
© ______ 2006, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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