Big Fears For Little Kids: Why Are Some Children Reluctant To Attend Childcare?

If you don't want your children to become independent, you probably should wait until scientists invent a programmable childlike robot. Children can begin to flex their independence quite early, and at rather inconvenient moments. As much as you want your child to enjoy their time at your local childcare centre, your child may beg to differ. Why are some children so reluctant to spend time in childcare, and how can you help them overcome this reluctance?

Reluctance Is Common

Reluctance to attend childcare (in the early stages of your child's attendance) is incredibly common. Chalk this one up to a combination of fear of the unknown and separation anxiety. It might be common, but this doesn't make it any easier for your child. Both issues should subside of their own accord, but you can help your child to manage their transition into daycare.

Fear Of The Unknown

Any fear of the unknown is natural for a young child, and childcare can be an unknown environment—at first. The unknown will become known, and then will become routine. Your child will become familiar with the staff, developing an affinity with the staff members who greet them and care for them each day. They will similarly become better-acquainted with the other children at the centre, with strangers becoming (ideally) friends, which also helps your child to develop their social skills.

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety should correspondingly fade, but for some children, a little dedicated effort is required. You may wish to spend time with your child at childcare (if parental participation is encouraged), only leaving them in the care of staff for a short period of time at first. This time can progressively increase over the course of several visits until your child is secure in the knowledge that you'll return to collect them. They'll also feel safe in the company of the centre's staff by this point.

Changes And Conflicts

You may also have to face a situation where your child, despite happily attending childcare in the past, suddenly develops an unwillingness to go back. This warrants further investigation. Have a word with the staff at the childcare centre. Have there been any recent changes? This might be a new staff member, a new child in the group or changes to the daily schedule. Again, this is largely a case of encouraging your child to accept (and adapt to) these changes. You should also inquire about the possibility of a conflict with another child in the group, which will need to be resolved if your child is being bullied and is feeling unsafe. Ask the childcare centre about their conflict resolution process for such a situation. 

Childcare should be a happy and enriching time for your child—and for the most part, it will be. However, you can't dismiss the possibility of there being unexpected reluctance from your child, which needs to be addressed.

For more, turn to a child care centre such as Hopskotch Kindergarten.