THE TODDLER ROADMAP SERIES 2: Episode 19 – How to Prepare Your Toddler Positively for Childcare, Nursery or Preschool.

"Everything you need to raise a happy, confident, resilient toddler 
undamaged by living through a pandemic!"

Show notes:

In this episode we look at starting a new childcare setting whether it’s a childminder, nursery, or preschool and explore how to help your child settle easily.
We look at why some toddlers don’t like bath time and I talk to Emma Hammett about preventing accidents with toddlers from choking to burns.

In this episode:

  • Starting preschool marks a new chapter of your child's life.
  • ​Positive Parenting pointers for your child's "Big Day" in school!
  • ​What to do if your child has difficulties.
  • ​The "Big Day" preparation for you and your child.
  • ​Check out Laura Henry Allain Creator of the new Cbeebies Series ‘JoJo & Gran Gran’ & Author of ‘My Skin, Your Skin’ in The Sue Atkins Book Club
  • ​Reasons why some kids don't like taking baths.
  • ​Tips in making your child love taking a bath.

Starting preschool

Starting preschool marks a new chapter in your child’s life, one that both of you may be a little nervous about. However, while it is completely normal to experience a mix of emotions ranging from excitement to sadness, preschool will lay the foundations for your child’s educational journey, on which they will learn new skills, gain their independence and make some great new friends.

To ensure this special transition is as smooth as possible, I’ve put together some fun but useful tips to help you prepare your toddler for preschool:
  • Practise self-help skills - like washing their hands, packing up their lunchbox or putting on coats, socks and shoes, going to the toilet.
  • ​Talk through their feelings – encourage and be positive and upbeat.
  • ​Visit their new childcare a few times to help them become familiar with it. 
• Explore the idea of preschool through play
Starting nursery or play group can be an exciting new adventure or a terrifying nerve-racking, nail-biting experience. This may depend on a number of factors.

If your little one has attended a playgroup, or a mother and toddler group, had a child minder or been looked after by someone else regularly, they may feel more at ease with the new situation as they are used to and more comfortable with, the daily ritual of separation.

It can also depend on your child’s character, their ability to handle change or whether their friends are going to be joining them.

I really believe your attitude is of vital importance to the changes. If you appear nervous, anxious, worried, over-protective or guilty your toddler will notice your tension and will react to it with anxiety, reluctance and hesitancy.

So, prepare yourself for the “Big Day” by being interested, supportive, and encouraging.

Here are some Positive Parenting Pointers

  • Talk to your child about what to expect - the activities (if it is nursery or reception - the snacks, milk-time, story time or quiet time, the routines, the toys and the noise of other children) if it is starting school, the anxiety of finding their way around the maze of a larger building, the new homework expectations, the new friend issues, the new timetable or the new route home on the bus. 
  • Take your child to the nursery, to get the feel of the place and to get used to the lay out or the journey. With younger children, the place where they go to the toilet or hang their coat is of great importance to them and can really help them relax during their early days in a new environment.
  • ​Let your younger child know that it’s perfectly normal to feel nervous and worried about being away from you for a little while and get them to think of a familiar object or toy they could bring in with them for a short while until they get used to the changes. 
  • ​I remember when I first taught in Reception a Mum taking her daughter’s hand and kissing the back of it and saying “Now you have my kiss so pop it into your pocket and when you miss me you can take it out again and give yourself a kiss from Mummy all over again” I saw her doing that only twice over by the sandpit during the morning!! Think of some of your own personal ideas to reduce your child’s anxiety.
  • Find a “buddy” or special friend who your child could go in with or pal around with during the new experience. 
  • ​I remember the Mums at my children’s nursery got together in the summer holidays in one of their gardens to have a BBQ, where the kids chatted, played, and got used to being with each other. It was in a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere where it was safe and familiar, so it was a really positive and fun experience for everyone. It really helped the transition into the nursery environment later that month.
  • ​Make the nursery ritual relaxed by laying out your child’s clothes or making the sandwiches the night before and getting your child involved in helping with the process. It helps take away some of the anxiety and is an opportunity for listening and chatting through little or big niggles. 

What to Do if Your Child Has Difficulties

  • Stay for a little while for the first day or two, but always talk to your child’s teacher first about this, as some Nursery and Play group teachers and leaders don’t always like this idea. As your child feels more comfortable, make your stay shorter and shorter and then just stay long enough to say goodbye properly.
  • ​I found children’s tears dried up within minutes once they got stuck into the Playdoh or toy cars while poor old Mum or Dad went home or to work feeling awful all day when really their child forgot all about feeling blue very quickly. 
  • ​Be firm about attending and don’t “give in” to staying at home. That sends the wrong message and really is making a rod for your own back! 
  • ​Always come back on time so your child can feel secure and safe knowing you are waiting for them with a smile and a lovely greeting. With older children don’t always bombard them with questions like “Well, how was it?” Let them relax and talk about it in their own time and just greet them with a smile and a “It’s good to see you”. 
  • ​Always reassure and be accepting of your child’s worries and concerns. Always acknowledge your child’s feelings as it shows respect to their genuine emotions, and it gives you an opportunity to help them learn to cope with new experiences positively. 
  • ​Always stay positive and try to relax even if your child reverts to thumb sucking, clinginess, and bedwetting or having nightmares. These behaviours are usually only temporary setbacks and remember that you are creating a blueprint for how your child handles change throughout their lives. 
​There are lots of ways in which you can prepare your child for the world of nursery and/or preschool and here are some more practical tips:
  • Visit the nursery with your child to give them an opportunity to see what the children do and to see some of the routines and fun they have. 
  • ​Walk past at break-time to show the children playing happily outside.
  • ​Explain what will happen during the day.
  • ​Read books together about children starting school or nursery like “Topsy and Tim Start School” by Jean Adamson or “Starting School” by Alan and Janet Ahlberg or “I Am Too Absolutely Small for School” by Lauren Child.

The big day!

Your job is to create excitement - not fear!
  • Get up early so you are calm, centred, relaxed and positive.
  • ​Get your toddler ready in plenty of time without rushing
  • ​Have a leisurely breakfast and set off in plenty of time.
  • ​Prepare their uniform or clothes the night before
  • ​Prepare the lunches or put the cuddly toy out ready before you set off
  • ​Smile! 
Watch my videos, listen to my MP3s and read my modules in my FULL TODDLER ROADMAP MODULE 19 around preparing your toddler for nursery, childcare, or preschool
Put in the discount code PEANUT 25 to get a huge 25% discount on the whole 41 videos. 41 MP3s and 28 Modules of my eCourse 
I have filmed and written tips for Disney’s ‘The Gift of Play’ website. Get inspired and spark the magic of imaginative play with my tips & videos in collaboration with Disney, Pixar, Star Wars™ and Marvel.

Download & Discover ‘The Gift of Play!’ Guide

Bursting with inspirational play ideas, arts, crafts, games, activities and puzzles!

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Stop your kids from misplacing their shoes by placing a shoe rack by the front door made from coat hooks ! 


When you're tempted to say something negative – it’s much better to reframe it into something positive so kids really hear you and can act on what you want them to do.
They’ll feel better – you’ll feel better – win – win!
Check out Laura Henry Allain Creator of the new Cbeebies Series ‘JoJo & Gran Gran’ & Author of ‘My Skin, Your Skin’ in The Sue Atkins Book Club


Sue Atkins Toddler Roadmap Community
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Hi Sue, my son Rohan hates bath time! I thought kids loved water and splashing about in the bath as my cousin’s kids do. What’s wrong? Neena Patel from Peckham, London


Why Kids May Not Like Taking Baths

For many toddlers, having a bath and splashing around in the bath is a fun and relaxing part of their day. For other toddlers, bath time is not as appealing, or enjoyable especially as they develop their likes and dislikes, learn how to say “no,” and prefer to do things on their own.

This is completely normal behaviour, but it can make bath time a challenge!

Here are a few common reasons toddlers dislike taking baths:
  • Sensory sensitivity. Some toddlers dislike bath time because they don’t enjoy the sensory experience—they don’t like being wet or getting their hair washed. Or maybe they’re too cold when they get out of the bath, or the towel is scratchy against their skin.
  • ​Anxiety or apprehension. If your toddler’s aversion to bath time comes on suddenly, they may have had a bad experience with water and now feel nervous or fearful. Perhaps the baby-bath temperature was too hot or cold, or maybe your toddler nearly slipped once and that scared them. 
  • ​Preferring other activities. Some kids don’t want to stop what they’re doing in order to jump in to the bath. For some children, it’s hard to swap playing and other fun activities for taking a bath. (This is partly why it helps to make toddler bath time more fun!) Add bubbles, toys and play fun music or sing nursery rhymes.
  • If you’re encountering strong opposition at bath time, experts recommend not forcing your child to take a bath. Instead, focus on being patient, getting to the root of the problem, and addressing your little one’s needs. When you understand the reason behind the reticence or dislike, it will be a lot easier to know how to get your toddler to like and enjoy baths!

Top Tip: Aim for two or three baths each week and try to schedule them consistently so your toddler knows when to expect them. If your child gets dirtier than usual one day, just add another bath to the schedule.
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Everything you need to raise a happy, confident, resilient toddler


Sue Atkins In Conversation With Emma Hammett – Founder of award-winning First Aid Training and Author of ‘Burns, Falls and Emergency Calls: The ultimate guide to the prevention and treatment of childhood accidents’

Pause to Ponder This Week:

How can I prepare my little one for nursery, preschool or a change in childcare positively this week? 

Time To Take Action

Sign up to my Toddler Roadmap
My Toddler Roadmap looks at all the aspects of raising your toddler so they are not damaged by a unique time in history - living through a pandemic - & each module will help you to nurture your child’s mental health and wellbeing and this podcast is linked to my Toddler Roadmap training.

I’m going to hold your hand, support and guide you through everything you need to know about raising happy, confident resilient kids – today’s toddlers but tomorrow’s adults!
I want you to relax & have total confidence that you’ve got a parenting expert who’s got your back - showing you the way to happy, confident kids and knowing the pandemic didn’t damage your kids long term!

In my TODDLER Roadmap Course and Community I will give you the step by step guide for handling toddler tantrums and why they happen, I give you the roadmap for potty training, why kids become fussy eaters and what to do about it. I show you how to build self confidence in your toddler and explain why they say ‘why?’ all the time, I give you my parenting hacks on how to handle sibling rivalry when another baby arrives, I tell you about the importance of play and how to handle when they say ‘NO!’

I tell you how to handle whining, crying, and biting. I show you my tips for getting kids into a good bedtime routine and why that’s important. I talk about why reading with kids is so important and why singing nursery rhymes with them helps their language development. I show you how to handle night terrors and I look at the bigger picture to your parenting – not just the socks and pants of life that we all get stuck in!

So, I’m really excited to share with you my Toddler Roadmap

Check out my YouTube Channel Playlist – videos released every Tuesday and Friday

Remember, if you want to review what we’ve talked about, check out the full Show Notes

There, you can find a full article on the topic, videos that summarise the different elements and links to any tools or resources we’ve pointed out. You can also drop us a comment there and get involved in the conversation.
You can find a full article on the topic, videos that summarise the different elements and links to any tools or resources we’ve pointed out. You can also drop us a comment there and get involved in the conversation. 
To get my full advice and videos join my Toddler Roadmap

Coming up Next Week 

Coming up in Episode 20 Emotional Freedom Technique - EFT- otherwise known as ‘Tapping’

Next week I will be teaching you the wonderfully simple technique of tapping taught to me by Paul McKenna and Dr. Roger Callahan to reduce stress, anxiety and negative emotions in yourself and in your toddler

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