Helping Children Cope with Day Care Stress: Gradual Progression is Key to Successful Integration

Dec 25, 2021 12:00 AM ET

Researchers have found that stress levels in children under 36-months old, attending day care, are especially high. They detected higher levels of stress from morning through afternoon, measured by a glucocorticoid hormone called cortisol. Levels were higher among children in day care settings, compared to when the child is at home. What does this mean for parents and guardians thinking of enrolling their child for daycare in Olney MD? It means that, if your child is under 3-years of age, you need to ensure they are mentally and emotionally ready to make that leap into a day care setting.

More Than Just Academics

These findings offer more than just academic value. What they indicate is that, if a child is prematurely subject to higher cortisol levels throughout the day, that could impact the longer-term growth of their brains. And, the longer that these levels remain elevated, the greater the risk it poses for the mental and emotional growth of the child.

Most parents, however, like to start their children in day care when they are much younger than 36-months. While the environment in any preschool in Olney MD is extremely supportive and encouraging for the child, there are circumstances – beyond the control of day care professionals – that contribute to heightened levels of cortisol.  It’s believed that some, or all, of the following factors might be stress contributors:   

– Unexpected separation anxiety

– Pressure to interact with a group of peers

– Exposure to an unfamiliar environment

It’s no surprise that, where these three elements exist, even some adults might feel stressed. But at least adults can learn coping strategies. Can a young child master such strategies? Fortunately, the answer is a resounding yes!

Building Your Child’s Coping Mechanism

Here are three strategies to consider that’ll help make day care a less stressful experience for the child:

– To ease separation anxiety when your child attends daycare in Olney MD, make sure you don’t leave them on their own – at least not for the first several days. Make sure your child sees you “hanging” around while they attend their class. This will assure them that a friendly face is just outside.

– Pushing a child into a group setting for the first time, and expecting them not to be stressed is a big ask. If you have extended family, friends, or neighbors, who have similar-aged kids, make sure your child interacts with them in social settings – park, playground, library, community center, family events. This will teach your child to interact within groups and not get stressed.

– A great way to familiarize your child with the environment of the preschool in Olney MD, is to introduce them to it gradually. Walk by the school with your child. Drive by the center. Park outside and idle by. Enter the facility, holding the child’s hand to make them feel comfortable. After a week or so, the child will no longer feel they’re in unfamiliar territory, contributing to reduced stress levels.  

Even when all three strategies are deployed, don’t expect to see dramatic results overnight. Some researchers believe that you could start seeing good results between three and six months from starting formal day care. The key, however, is to lead the child gradually into embracing life in daycare in Olney MD

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