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Anxiety at daycare

Stephanie Wicker

Stephanie Wicker

Child behaviour expert, parenting educator, counsellor and speaker. Stephanie Wicker has successfully guided families through early childhood for over over 15 years.
Created on Oct 10, 2023 · 2 mins read

Some children rock up to daycare like it’s no biggie from day one, while others might be overwhelmed, and show signs of separation anxiety. If you notice that your child is anxious the night before or the morning of, these simple techniques will help to make their transition a lot easier.


Think about how you might feel going back to work after a holiday! For most of us, it doesn’t feel very nice. A lot of children feel stress during transitional periods – and it’s okay for them to cry. Our emotions impact their emotions. Take a deep breath in and smile encouragingly at your little one. Their brains are having a hard time coping, and when we become frustrated or annoyed by their crying and resistance it can just make the situation worse.


“I can see you are upset. I know this is hard.” And that’s it. No promises of getting out of going! Simply validating. Sometimes we get caught up in the rush of the morning and become overwhelmed ourselves. Try to avoid this, and instead, simply let them know you understand how they’re feeling.

Return to the source

Once your little one is calm, bring up what happened. “I could see you were upset this morning before daycare. Would you like to talk about it?” Sometimes children do not feel safe during transitions (like going back to daycare after some time at home) and simply need to feel understood. While other times there may be a deeper cause to their stress. Maybe they feel rejected by some of the children, maybe the carer hasn’t quite bonded with them yet, or maybe the activities are simply too hard. It’s always a good step to allow your child the opportunity to express what they need.

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Get the daycare on board

If your little one is having a hard time going to daycare, this is a great time to let the carer know. When your toddler feels safe, their emotions will settle. Feeling safe comes from feeling connected to other people. Build relationships with the carer as a parent, and so your children will follow. It could be worth asking the carer to set aside a few minutes at the start of the day to welcome your toddler and bond with them. Validate, listen and support. These are the key ingredients to your toddler’s success at daycare.

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