Ideas to support children transitioning to care

Supporting a child to transition to Family Day Care

Some children transition into family day care with ease and immediately take comfort and ownership of their new environment.  Other children need support to adapt to new care arrangements and this is understandable. Let’s look at the amount of changes taking place from a child's perspective.

  • I have been attached to mum or dad 24/7 and now I am left in a strange house
  • I have been breast fed and now I am given a strange bottle
  • I have been weaned/ my diet has changed
  • My sleep routines have changed - I now get up earlier to get to childcare
  • My parents have been distracted and having a lot of adult conversations about work lately?
  • I have been left in a house with unfamiliar smells, sounds and people.


Maybe not all of the above changes are relevant to your child.  Think about what is changing in their life and look at ways to introduce change slowly.  Introduce changes gradually over days or even weeks prior to commencement, and during the initial stages of care, so that it does not all coincide at once.  


We are always seeking to extend your child's sense of being, becoming and belonging in and around our service.  Your child must feel secure and connected to their educator and the service routines.


Some principles to think about:

  • How can we introduce change in a way that allows the child to adapt and grow
  • How can we focus our attention on the children in care - establish the presence of mind for empathy and sustained shared thoughts and feelings.
  • How can we build trust, familiarity, security through strong daily ‘rituals’ that send clear signals to the child so they can anticipate what is coming next.


Strategies to support your child.



Support Strategies


Exploring. Creating. Strong individual expression. Knowing yourself

Child cannot stop crying - child has lost all bearings and cannot be comforted.

Child is clingy

Does not know what they want - cannot be placated

  • Establish trust
  • Introduce FDC environment slowly - 30 minutes per day and gradually extend.
  • Sit on the floor with educator and establish connections with other children - allow your child to climb over you and gradually explore.  Over time the distance between you and child will grow - the child may even approach educator freely.
  • Child will find comfort and trust in others as they see you find these qualities.
  • Establish symbolic routines - outings, songs and conversations that reinforce stability, predictability and presence of moment.  Your child will take comfort in a predictable and stable rhythm.



Relationships, Security, Knowing children, Respecting diversity, Being understood

Child is anxious and cannot relax, find presence of mind or connection to FDC environment.

Child does not notice others or take comfort in the daily rhythm/routine

Child is unusually withdrawn/sullen/ unable to express themselves

Child does not find comfort in the things/people/ - is not able to participate to the best of their ability.

  • Make sure conversation includes the child.  Avoid intense adult conversation. Be engaging. Hold thoughts of child first
  • Let the child see that the adults belong by participating in the routine and communicating with other children.
  • Get Adults to parallel play (play beside) children to form relationships by ‘doing with’ other children.  This could be participating in domestic duties around educators house, help sweep backyard, wind wool, prepare food etc
  • Have clear drop off and pick up times.  The child will take comfort in the knowledge of the routine and anticipating what is coming next. Never be late or deceive a child about coming early or ducking out for a ‘short while’.  Always say good bye.
  • Make arrangements to collect the child should they become inconsolable for greater than 15 minutes.  The child will recognise that mum is coming back to counter feelings of separation.



Independence, Self sufficiency, Confidence in doing things, Building on prior learning

Child is withdrawn

Child points and gets educator or parent to ‘do everything’ including tasks they usually enjoy.

Child does not participate freely in the program or with other children - requires close proximity to educator or parent

Child is destructive or sabotaging - seeks negative attention

  • Make older kids helpers - give special tasks
  • Provide positive attention. Eg. I love you, you’re clever, look at what you’re making, what fun.
  • Parents and educators should play with blocks or open ended objects on the floor whilst child settles.  Sandpits and water play outside are perfect. Child will naturally relax and move away from parent and educator and begin to explore environment independently.
  • Always say good bye and I’ll see you later.  Children may become distressed at this but usually settle down when parent has gone.  This builds greater trust than ‘disappearing’ or slipping out when child is distracted.