Separation struggles can stir up some deep emotions for both the parents and the child.

If your little one is new to childcare, you may find yourself faced with tears and separation struggles every morning. It makes you question if you’ve made the right choice and you may even be tempted to keep them home, just to stop the parent guilt! 

It really does tug on the heartstrings, but for most children, struggles with separation are a common part of growth and development and will settle over time. We promise!

So how do we support our little ones during their separation struggles? Here are our top tips.

Don’t rush

Plan your morning so you have some extra time to spend settling your child in at drop-off. Choose an activity to do together before they start, such as reading a story or watching them climb something in the playground. 

Say goodbye and go

If your child is happily playing before childcare starts, resist the temptation to sneak off. When they realise you are gone they will often become more distressed and this will make it harder for them next time. Always communicate when you are going to leave and when – even with infants!

Mentally prepare

Help your child mentally prepare and get excited for the day. Talk about which Educators will be there, what games they might play, and which friends they will see. Here is a great book to read with your child called ‘The Invisible String’.

Speak to the Educators

Let them know that your child is struggling – this is what they are there for! They will likely have lots of great tips to help you and your little one!

Build bridges

If your childcare centre allows, you can create ‘bridges’ between home and care by bringing in a family photo or a favourite book to give your child comfort throughout the day.  

Share the timeline

Our little ones are still developing their sense of time, so try to communicate about what will happen during the day. It can give them something to focus on rather than being upset.  Use phrases like ‘Mummy/Daddy will go to work, then we will come back and pick you up at afternoon tea time’. 

Acknowledge and plan

We all feel better when our feelings are acknowledged, so help your little one plan for what to do when they are upset – things like holding a cuddle toy or being with a special friend or Educator. 


Most children have big feelings, some just express them more loudly than others! We just need to do our best to support them through these challenging times and give them the tools to cope with how they are feeling.


Going back to work after maternity leave? Check out our blog here for some tips.