You can tell that your baby has become a toddler when he tells you "No!" and displays other acts of defiance just to show that he's the 2-year-old boss. Toddlers are generally independent in play around this time, they don't quite grasp the concept of sharing, and they believe that the world pretty much revolves around them. This is typical in their social and emotional development, and daycare centers provide children with the social interactions that these little tots will need as they transition into preschool.
1. Quality Child Care
The first step in determining whether or not a center meets your toddler's social and emotional needs is to do some research. ZeroToThree.com offers a comprehensive checklist of things to consider when seeking quality child care. These considerations include whether or not your child's developing sense of autonomy is understood, encouraged and guided by child care staff, as well as how the staff addresses potty training. Are your child's potential caregivers warm, encouraging and educated about your toddler's developmental needs? If you have a chance, drop in on a few daycare centers during the day and observe how they interact with the children. This will be your child's home away from home, so you want it to be as cozy and sensitive to your child's needs as possible.
2. Social Considerations
One of the pluses about daycare centers in general is that they give your child a chance to gain an awareness of other children. That's not to say that your toddler is going to suddenly become a master at sharing with others, but he'll definitely have an introduction to the concept. Toddlers aren't developmentally aware of others' needs just yet, and it's important that your caregivers understand this as well. Unless your child's behavior is violent toward himself or others, it's unnecessary to receive daily reports from your child's teacher about small grievances such as a lack of sharing or not wanting to play with others.
3. Emotional Considerations
Your toddler's emotional needs could arguably be all over the place. On one hand, she may be frustrated easily which is evidenced by the amount of tantrums she has in a day. She may demand her independence and simultaneously require your love and attention, as well as a sense of security. It's imperative that a caregiver understands these complex emotional needs. While tantrums should be redirected, it may be a good idea to ask potential caregivers how they typically handle these types of outbursts. Are the caregivers appropriately affectionate? Do the compliments and reassurances flow freely on any given day? Be aware of your child's emotional needs to determine a caregiver's compatibility with your child.
4. Pay Attention to Your Child
Determine whether or not your child's daycare center is working out based on your toddler's behavior when you pick her up from school. Is she happy there? Does she loathe leaving your home in the morning? Sometimes your child may just be exercising a bit of defiance in her resistance, but other times she may really dislike her experience at her child care center for some reason. Try to drop in on your child whenever you can to observe whether or not she is comfortable there.
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