Jake, a two-year-old in daycare, says, “No one play with me!” Jake’s mother becomes anxious because she was a lonely child. She feels guilty about working, but finally decides to talk to Jake’s caregiver and spend some time watching Jake in his daycare setting. In a soft, caring voice, Jake’s mother discusses Jake’s feelings with him; she discovers that he misses her during the day. She decides to work with his caregiver to make a plan. They agree that Jake’s caregiver will sit with him at lunch, and connect with him during two set times of the day by putting her hand on his shoulder and checking to see how he’s doing.
Jake’s mother and caregiver help Jake make a plan for when he misses his mother. He selects a special picture of himself and his mother to put in his cubby to look at whenever he needs to feel connected to her.
Jake’s mother Stepped In to fully understand Jake’s experience, and Stepped Out by leaving her own childhood experience at the door so she could appropriately validate his feelings and respond empathetically to his distress. She was able to balance her own feelings so that she could help Jake manage the difficulty of separation.
• Understand your child’s perspective.
• Recognize and put away your own feelings.
• Stay calm and respond with reassuring words.
• Develop strategies with your child that fit his age, stage, and temperament.