As more and more parents are required to travel their job, the issue of leaving a child for extended periods of time becomes an important one. What can parents do to make the absence more bearable? The simple answer: plan ahead.
Very young children have difficulty with time concepts. This is one reason why arrival and departure time at school are so important. Infants need to know that schedules are predictable and that parents will return. The trick with trips is being honest, but not telling young children too far in advance. Make arrangements for your child to be with someone familiar, in familiar surroundings, and on a familiar schedule.
The day before the trip, walk with your child. Say when the trip will be and where you will be going. Be reassuring as to who will care for your child and where your child will be. Tell why you must go (for example, for your job) and that you will telephone (as often as you can). Don’t promise what you cannot deliver. Let your child know that you love him or her even when you are apart.
Details are important. Little things, such as having the usual clothes and shoes become more essential when a parent is away. Give your child a security item that will be comforting and will remind your child of you (a pillowcase, a photograph, or a T-shirt, for example). Be certain that your child has his or her usual security items, also.
Far in advance, write down information such as emergency phone numbers, medical conditions, and where special items are located. Then have a good trip, knowing that you have done your best to prepare.
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