Afraid of what your little one will do in a group activity for the first time? Here are some of the top fears parents face when starting a new class and some comforting words of wisdom:
1. Lick the mirror
Mirrors are like this magical portal that must be licked. Toddlers are developmentally egotistical, which means they love looking at themselves but are also super curious. What happens if I lick this fascinating material? What does it taste like? Will I then have two tongues? No worries, that’s why we have glass cleaner. Lick away, little explorer!
Many kids cry at their first group experience, that’s completely normal! For some kids, it may be the sheer number of people around them. Imagine if your whole life was spent in a relatively quiet place with less than 4 people around you and then one day you are put into a loud environment with 20+ strangers. One of the best ways to solve this problem is to arrive early. Give your little one time to really take in this new place, meet a few new people at a time, and get to know the teacher one-on-one.
The slower they can become accustomed to their new environment the quicker they will warm up to the class.
3. Be Shy
“You should see my kid at home! They sing all the words to every song, they dance around the whole house, and they never stop talking. This is weird!” Nope not weird, just different.
Your little ones show their true selves when they are home because they know they are in a safe place where they are loved. They can do anything they want to try because you are there to smile and cheer them on. Being in a new class can make many former spotlight-seekers a little shy. Give them a few weeks to really get to use to the class, they’ll be showing off their skills again soon!
Also, consider your child’s own personality; some kids are innately more reserved, quiet, shy, and introverted than others. And there’s nothing wrong with that! If they would rather take a more passive role in the class, just observing everyone else, please know that they are still learning. They will show you in their own way when they are ready. Maybe in the car or the bathtub or when you’re trying to get them to sleep, but at some point when they are ready, they will share their talents.
4. Be crazy
Yep, some kids are so excited and they just can’t hide it. They want to run as fast as they can, jump on the furniture, see what can fall down, and just overall go bananas. Please know, we are not judging your parenting abilities due to your little one’s excitement! I’m one of those teachers who thinks, “Ok how can I make this engaging for them? Let’s jump! Or shake a scarf really fast! Let’s sing as loud as we can!” Find a way to meet their excitement level with what they can do rather than what they can’t do, just keep it safe.
5. Not Share
If a group of kids aged 1-3 walked into my class and started sharing their favorite toy on their own, I’d retire with nothing left to teach. That would be weird. Try to take their perspective: this is the most interesting toy ever, I want to be the only one to play with it, YOU CAN’T HAVE MY TOY, oh wait I also want the interesting toy you have.
Sharing doesn’t mean giving up the toy you are using just because someone else is interested in it; sharing can mean learning to wait for someone else’s turn to finish or remembering to offer the toy to another child. Remember, every other parent in the class is working on the same skills with their child too. You’re all in this together, share the love!
Diaper blowout? Been there. Potty-training kid peeing in the corner? Yep, seen it. Again no worries, that’s why cleaning products were invented. Just know that your little one has no qualms about doing their business and getting right back into class so neither should you!
Don’t be afraid, we’ve all been there! Find a class that will not only teach the skills you want your child to learn but will also positively grow them socially and emotionally.