The Dreaded Goodbye - By guest blogger, Cat Hill
Cat Hill is an Early Learning Educator and new Mum from Taranaki. She has been teaching since 2007 and graduated with a bachelor's degree in 2011. She LOVES her career but thinks her new job as Sully's Mum is even better!!
Cat writes "Sully has been a very much anticipated baby for myself and my husband Jeremy as we went through several rounds of IVF to get him here. We feel so incredibly lucky we get to experience this crazy journey and couldn't think of a better little person for us to make the dream come true."
Cat is a customer of ours and jumped at the chance to write a blog for us. Grab a cuppa and enjoy her blog about "The Dreaded Goodbye"
With over ten years experience in the early learning sector, I have had my share of various challenges. But nothing pulls at my heart strings more than when a child is transitioning to a preschool or nursery for the first time. It’s a lot for the child to get their head around, often inducing a lot of tears from both parents and child. Unfortunately parents returning to work earlier than they would like is the reality of the world we live in. The cost of living is consistently on the rise, now more so than ever! This leaves parents no choice but to return to work, handing over their little loves for somebody else to look after. This is hard. However, there is light in this tunnel though! Once children and babies find their sense of belonging and form trusting relationships with their kaiako, preschool becomes like a second home. But be warned, getting there takes a lot of strength, consistency, trust and time.
Let's be honest, goodbye's suck. We never want to say goodbye to the people we love no matter what age we are. To better understand what our little ones are going through, let’s go back to the time you bought a one way ticket across the world. It’s exciting! But first you had to endure the dreaded goodbyes to friends and family. Everyone knows this feeling - it’s not nice! During the transitioning phase, this is what our children experience daily. Children have no concept of time and no idea when they will see you again and if that isn’t scary enough you’re leaving them with strange people in a strange place. No wonder they cling to us like little paua shells! There is a lot happening for children during this phase. They are learning to trust other adults, finding their place in a new environment and figuring out how to be ok without Mum and Dad. Quite a lot for our little people right! Getting to their place of contentment is going to take a bit of time, but rest assured the tears won't last forever.
Don’t underestimate the power of predictability for children! Routines play a powerful role in helping our tamariki feel safe and secure. As children become more familiar with their routine and their teacher/child relationship develops, you will find they quickly turn a corner. Soon they will happily say goodbye with smiles on their sweet little faces. It’s a great day when the dreaded goodbye is received with a smile and a wave instead of tears and reaching for you at the door. Again this could be some time before your child gets to this place, so in the meantime you may want to think about how you might implement some of the suggestions written below. I have found these to be very helpful supporting families adjust to their new normal.
COMMUNICATE - Talk to your child at home and in the car about what is going to happen that day. Talk about their teachers and friends they are going to see or activities they might be doing.
BE CONSISTENT - Keep the routine as predictable as possible. For example, walk in the door, say hello to everyone, put the bag away and go find your teacher or whatever your child fancies. Let them know what you will do together and when you will say goodbye. Routine and predictability is KEY to goodbyes, it empowers children knowing what is coming next and this is a huge support when they are feeling insecure. You may find talking about leaving will upset your child and that’s ok! That is a credit to you as a parent and your bond with your little darling. Tears and emotion is something to encourage and with your guidance they will learn how to deal with them in a positive way.
FACE - Think about what your child is seeing on your face and hearing in your voice. This is REALLY important. Children are highly intuitive and intelligent beings especially when it comes to emotion. It is so important that when you say goodbye that you are calm in your expression and voice. Meet and acknowledge your child’s feelings with empathy and reassure them with confidence that you know they will have a great day.
RESIST- If there is one “don’t” I can recommend, it is never sneak out when your child is distracted. They will soon come looking for you and when they figure out you have gone this can really set them up for a distressing day and not to mention break their little hearts! Yes, it seems a shame to upset them when they are playing happily but by not telling them you will create distrust and make this process longer and harder.
Goodbyes suck, but keeping things predictable and calm even when your loved one isn’t, will support them hugely as they navigate their new world. Soon they will be racing in the doors and happily going off to explore! You will probably find yourself missing the days when they cried for you! Hang in there Mama, you're doing great.