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Children's Behavior When They First Enroll in a Day Care Center

by Kathy Gleason, studioD

While all children react differently to a new environment, some experiences are typical when kids begin day care. Remember to give your child as much extra love and attention as possible when he is facing a big change such as starting day care. According to the Midwest Equity Assistance Center, a company that provides educational services to administrators, parents and teachers, during big changes for young children, try to keep other family members' routines as close to the same as possible. Don't have several life changes at once, if you can help it. For example, don't enroll your child in day care the day after you start potty-training or the week a new sibling arrives.


Some children will become clingy when starting day care, wanting to be held by parents all the time or afraid that their parents won't come back. Reassure kids that you love them very much and that you miss them a lot when you're apart as well, but that you think about them all the time. Spend as much time as possible together when day care is done for the day, and ask him how his day was.

Crying or Acting Out

Young children might become more emotional and cry or misbehave at home when first starting day care. Spend time together and give your child lots of affection, but don't put up with behavior that you wouldn't have before. Remain consistent on appropriate behavior and the rules that need to be followed. Better Child Development explains that some children might also be overwhelmed by a group of children they don't know staring at them and suddenly become shy. One way to help this problem is to go to day care a few minutes early so your child is one of the first kids there, instead of walking into a group that's already assembled for the day.

Helping Kids Adjust to Day Care

To make the transition to day care as easy as possible, take her to her new school before she starts to introduce her to her new teachers and so she can see her classroom before she has to stay there all day, suggests the Fred Rogers Co. When it's time for her to start day care, let her bring a comfort object with her such as a favorite blanket or stuffed animal.

Saying Hello and Goodbye

When saying goodbye in the morning at day care, spend a little extra time the first few days so you can get your child settled and spend some time watching him play and get comfortable with his new surroundings. After the first few days, take your child into day care and help him put his things away, then give him a hug and kiss, remind him that he's going to have fun and that you'll be back later just like the other days, and leave. Once the first few days have passed, don't drag out the goodbyes. If he's upset and sad, it will just prolong that and be painful for both of you. When you pick your child up, spend a few minutes at day care talking to his teachers about his day and giving him a few minutes to get ready to go home. Don't be upset if he doesn't seem like he wants to go home. That means he's enjoying school!

About the Author

Kathy Gleason is a freelance writer living in rural northern New Jersey who has been writing professionally since 2010. She is a graduate of The Institute for Therapeutic Massage in Pompton Lakes, N.J. Before leaving her massage therapy career to start a family, Gleason specialized in Swedish style, pregnancy and sports massage.

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