The turnover rate in daycare settings, home daycares, nanny agencies, and other early childhood agencies is on the rise. Children may experience many different teachers throughout their early childhood years. Research has shown that a constant turnover of many caregivers in a child’s life may be harmful. During the early years of life, children are learning about relationships, security and trust. Children develop bonds with caregivers and when a caregiver is gone, your child may have a hard time adjusting. Young children will adjust to the new idea within a few days, while preschool aged children might need a few weeks or longer to accept the transition.
Often times, children are not capable of understanding why a loved caregiver is no longer a part of their life. However, there are ways to reduce the trauma a child suffers when a major part of their life suddenly dissapears.
Keep the separation low-key. Simply tell your child that the caregiver has gone on to other things. You might choose to tell your child that their caregiver got a new job or moved away to a new home. If the separation was because of your dissatisfaction, do not go into detail about the loss. Because your child has formed a close relationship with the caregiver, you should not belittle or criticize the caregiver in front of your child. Children can sense the frustration of their parents, so you should try to control your anxiety.
Choose the right time to tell your child about the caregivers permanent absence. Validate your child’s feelings and let her know that you are upset about the separation also. Encourage your child to talk about her feelings and tell her what you know about the new caregiver. If you know ahead of time that your child’s teacher, nanny or caregiver will be resigning, give them the time they need to say goodbye and accept the transition. If the separation is sudden, this may be harder to do. It might be harder if your child does not have a chance to say goodbye to their caregiver. Daycares often bring in new teachers while the old teacher is in the classroom so that the children have a chance to get used to the new teacher.
If at all possible, avoid times of separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is usually the strongest when a child is 8-9 months old. If you are firing your personal caregiver, try to do so before or after this period has begun. This might be harder in a childcare setting where you have no control over the teachers that come and go.
Reassure your child that the caregiver is not leaving because of anything he did. Because young children think of the world in terms of themseves, your child might think that the caregiver left because of something he did. He will blame himself and you should make sure that your child knows this is not the case. Give your child hope for the future and think of ways to connect to the new caregiver. You might encourage your child to make a list of things that she would like to tell her new caregiver.