Tuesday 16 January 2018

Parenting: How can I make sure my daughter settles with her new childminder?

The reaction of a parent can affect a child's pain level - photo posed
The reaction of a parent can affect a child's pain level - photo posed
David Coleman

David Coleman

MY 19-month-old daughter was in a creche but was constantly getting sick. She has been hospitalised several times with pneumonia in the last year.

I have taken so much time off work that my employers have given me just four more weeks to get her sorted out or my job is gone. I can't afford to give up work.

The worry of it has made me sick myself. Because of all the hospitalisations my daughter has become so anxious that I can barely go to the toilet now without her getting hysterical. This starts her coughing, so I think some of the chest infections may have been brought on by stress as well as being in a crowded creche. My husband and I have disagreed so much over this, but I eventually put my foot down and took her out of the crèche, for good, two months ago and her health is terrific now. She is much happier too.

I have finally found someone I think might be suitable to mind her, a lovely, lovely childminder. I have a really good feeling about her and am hoping she is the answer to my prayers.

She is starting with the childminder next week and I have three weeks to settle her before I am due back to work. But how do I help my daughter take to her?

I am really desperate here; I have to get this right and not upset her.

A FEELING of desperation can often make decision-making, and even taking action, harder. The sense of high-risk stakes can be immobilising and the anxiety about things not working out may actually become counterproductive.

So, the first thing I'd suggest you do is to reframe the issue at hand.

Your daughter has had a difficult time at creche because of the sicknesses she has had and the frequent hospitalisations. This has, no doubt, sent your own stress levels skyrocketing.

Her separation anxiety is a very natural response to the stresses of being hospitalised and, I have no doubt, it will ease as she has an extended period of good health and stability in her care arrangements.

The move to the new childminder is a process rather than an event.

Yes, it is important that she settles in due course. But even if this doesn't turn out to be the right carer for her, it is possible to find someone else.

So, you don't need to panic!

The more calm and confident that you appear to be, the easier it will be for your daughter to grow in her confidence that she is in a safe and secure environment, and that she is with a safe and secure person.

It is great that you already like the new childminder so much. You do, already, seem to have confidence in her and her ability to be warm and caring towards your daughter.

Children take the lead from their parents' interactions with others. When we seem to really like and be confident in another adult it is easier for our children to like and be confident with them too.

So, spend time with the childminder and your daughter together. Spend a couple of hours all together over the course of a few days such that your daughter sees how well you and the childminder get on. Allow the childminder to interact with your daughter while you are still present.

As long as you create the opportunities for the childminder and your daughter to be together you don't have to do anything else to help her "settle". Settling your daughter is the job of the childminder. Your job is having faith in the minder that she will do this, warmly, kindly and safely.

After a few days of spending time together with your daughter and her minder, you can begin to leave her with the minder on her own.

The most important thing that you can do is to just go. Don't linger or delay the separation. You can assume that your daughter will be upset, so you don't need to stay to witness it.

Indeed, loitering at the moment of goodbye will just intensify the feelings of anxiety that your daughter may have. Your loitering gives the unspoken message that you too are afraid about how she will cope.

It is more helpful for her that you give off the aura of great confidence in her and the minder's ability to cope just fine. So say goodbye and walk out the door without looking back.

Even if your daughter is upset, her childminder will be able to soothe and reassure her. That is what good childminders do! Then make sure to return at the agreed time to further strengthen your daughter's confidence that even if you go you will always come back.

Then the process involves just extending the periods for which you are absent until it mirrors the length of your working day. Three weeks is ample time to make this transition.

If the childminder is as good as you believe her to be then I think you will find that your daughter will settle in just fine, such that within a month or two of being there it will seem like a second home to her.

Irish Independent

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