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Adapting To A New Carer


Just when you get your child-care plans organised and manage to return to work, the person who normally looks after your toddler during the day decides to move on, leaving you in the lurch. After much hassle and running around, you find a replacement whom you consider to be reliable and professional - only to discover that your toddler will not settle with her.

She prefers her previous caregiver and she screams the place down when you leave her with the new person. You feel as if you are back to square one. However, there is a lot you can do to prepare for this situation before it arises, which will in turn help you manage when faced with an unplanned change of caregiver.

Anticipation

To avoid your toddler's distress at an unexpected change in her daycare arrangements, encourage her to be comfortable with other adults, apart from the person who looks after her when you are working. For example, she can spend time with her grandparents on weekends or in the evenings, with her aunts and uncles or with a babysitter. The more adults your toddler spends time with, the less likely she will be upset at a change in child-care arrangements.

In the short term, it suits you better from a practical point of view - and it suits your infant better - if her day-carer is also the one who babysits her at night and who takes her out on weekends and so on. Everybody in your family knows the carer, she is comfortable with your child, and you are confident in her ability to look after your toddler reliably and safely.

However, in the long term, this type of arrangement simply encourages your toddler to become too dependent on one specific person. Of course, your child and her day-carer should have a close emotional connection, but it does not need to be exclusive. That is why it makes sense for her to spend time with her principal daycarer and to spend time occasionally with other adults, too. This helps her adapt more easily to change.

When Change Occurs

Despite your best efforts to get your toddler emotionally ready for a change of day-carers, she may still find the transition from one adult to another difficult to manage. Here are some other suggestions to ease her through this transition phase:

Links Between Carers

If possible (assuming there is enough time), let your toddler meet her new carer in the presence of the current one. Meeting the new person while she still has the familiar carer with her makes your child feel more settled emotionally. 

Positive Spin

Talk in positive terms to your toddler about her new carer. Explain all the advantages she will get. For instance, the carer knows different games, has a better singing voice, is more fun etc. Your toddler takes her lead from you to some extent, so if you are be happy happy about the change, she will be happy, too.

Easy Does It

Resist the temptation to shift from her present carer one day to her new carer the next. Do what you can to make the transition between carers gradual. Help your toddler to adjust to the change by allowing her to spend a short period of time, say 10 minutes, with her new carer to start with and then, over a period of weeks, steadily build it up to a full day.

Persist

No matter how troubled your toddler appears to be with her new day-carer, rest assured she will get used to this person eventually. She just needs time. So stick with the arrangement in the face of your toddler's tears and protests. Talk to her about her day's activities when you come home at the end of the working day.

Character Study

Your baby starts to show her character from the moment she is born. She has a wide range of responses to different situations as soon as she enters this world, and after she turns one, these character traits emerge more strongly. Research has identified fiive main components of character during the early years:

Activity Level

She might be vigorous and sporty or she may be relaxed and sluggish, content to move at a steady pace.

Irritability

Some toddlers cope with everyday experiences without becoming rattled or upset while others are very sensitive and easily irritated.

Soothability

This refers to the ease with which a child calms down after she is upset; this varies greatly from child to child. 

Fearfulness

Stimulation can generate an infant's excitement or it can make her fearful, and some babies are more easily frightened than others.

Sociability

Some infant are social go-getters while others are shy. Sociability affects the child's relationships with others.

Nobody knows for sure the exact source of your child's character, or whether or not it is fixed and unchangeable. Some believe that personality traits are inherited, that there is a genetic component to these characteristics. Studies comparing the temperament of identical twins and the temperament of non-identical (fraternal) twins have found that there is greater similarity between identical than non-identical twins, especially during the first year of life.

This evidence strongly suggests there is a genetic component, that your child inherits part of her temperament profile from her parents. Further evidence comes from investigations into ethnic differences. One research project compared Caucasian-American babies with Chinese-American babies, and found that the Caucasian babies were more irritable and harder to soothe than the Chinese babies.

Another investigation has found that babies from America were more anxious and moody than those from Ireland, who were in turn more active and restless than those born in China. Since these differences occur very early in life and are associated consistently with particular ethnic groups, many psychologists take this as further support for the idea that character is inherited. To that extent, it can be argued that character is fixed.

Yet, there is no doubt that environment also plays a part. For example, there is experimental evidence which shows that the more parents smile and show positive affection to their toddler, the more likely she is to be socially responsive, happy and smiling herself. And a lot depends on the way parents manage their child's characteristics. For example, if your toddler dislikes change, then you may be tempted to treat her very carefully to avoid new experiences.

However, this also reinforces her behavior and does Yet, there is no doubt that environment also plays a part. For example, there is experimental evidence which shows that the more parents smile and show positive affection to their toddler, the more likely she is to be socially responsive, happy and smiling herself. And a lot depends on the way nothing to change it. 

On the other hand, if you decide to improve your child's adaptability by deliberately introducing her to new experiences, you may find that she gradually becomes less moody and more accustomed to change. To that extent, it could be argued that character is flexible. Your one year old has her own unique character and it does not matter whether it is inherited or environmental. All that matters is that you encourage her positive qualities and develop her skills and talents so that she fulfils her maximum potential.

 

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