By Registered Health Visitor – Julia Headland


Sending your child to nursery can often be quite a stressful time for us parents and this is often compounded by the little cherub’s cries and screams as you try to leave!  In fact, I know of plenty of parents who find this so upsetting that they leave the nursery only to get in the car and sob all the way to work! If this rings true with you, you will probably also have been told by the staff that as soon as you were out of their sight, the cries stop and the tears dry up and they got on with playing!

Occasionally though, it does take a couple of weeks or so for some children to settle and get used to nursery so here are a list of suggestions that might make for a smoother transition.

  • Always talk about the nursery positively; talk about some of your child’s friends or activities that are being done at the nursery and how much fun they are going to have.
  • If your child has a favourite cuddly toy or blanket it may be an idea to bring it to the nursery with them to make them feel a bit more secure.
  • Try and make saying goodbye short and sweet. By all means give them a cuddle and a kiss but do this and then leave by handing your child over to the childcare staff.
  • Child psychologist Richard Woolfson (2015) suggests that you tell your toddler when you are due to come back. If they are not at an age of understanding the concept of time, relate it to an activity you know they do, for example, “mummy or daddy will be back to pick you up after story time/ play time/ tea.”
  • Remember that most children will experience a few tears as they settle in to nursery and that for a short period of time it is completely normal.


For many children the transition from the toddler room into pre-school is seamless, however, as every child is different, some children may take a little time to settle into pre-school. Toddlers are known for being fairly inflexible about their routines and not particularly fond of change! Some children maybe naturally cautious in new situations or with unfamiliar people and because of this you may notice a temporary change in their behaviour at home.

Listed below are some behaviours you may have noticed since your child started pre-school:

  • Insecurity.  Your once ‘secure’ child suddenly becomes quite clingy towards you. This is usually temporary and is usually due to the change in venue (ie another room) or possibly down to unfamiliar caregivers. This usually resolves itself after a couple of weeks, much the same as the sort of separation anxiety they may have once exhibited when they started nursery (see above for help with the anxiety).
  • Independence. You may notice an increase in the word ‘No” when asking them to do something. This may also be accompanied by a rise in the number of temper tantrums. This is a fairly common thing for parents to notice and this is largely due to the fact that in pre-school the children are taught to be more independent and your child is exerting their independence. This is also combined with the natural stage of development that they are experiencing when they reach 3 yrs old and for this I would advise that you are consistent with how you handle these situations but also acknowledge that they are growing and learning to do things for themselves which needs to be encouraged by us. Make sure you give them clear boundaries and make the negative consequences clear to. Be sure to also use lots of positive reinforcement to encourage compliance. Some things that are known to be useful for pre-schoolers are praise and reward charts or sticker charts. Another tip would be that although you need to be consistent, choose your battles wisely otherwise you will feel you are at constant logger heads with your little one!
  • Behaviour Regression. You may notice a slight regression in their development; for example, a child who is dry at night may start wetting the bed again temporarily. This again is fairly common and should resolve by 2-3 weeks however if it continues it may need further investigation.
  • Baby Talk. Another thing that is fairly common for children going into pre-school is children reverting back to baby talk. Sometimes pre-schoolers use it to gain attention and sometimes they use it at times of stress and anxiety and this may be seen just as they are about to enter pre-school as they may be nervous. This stage usually doesn’t last long and improves steadily as the child becomes more comfortable with their new situation. The only word of caution is to not give the baby talk too much attention.

All these behaviours are fairly common but if you do notice any of the behaviour is prolonged, do speak with the nursery staff or come along and have a chat with me.


For those people I have not yet met, my name is Julia Headland and I am a registered health visitor and registered general nurse with a degree in public health and over 20 years of experience.  I am very pleased to work alongside the Norfolk House Nursery team.

You can arrange to meet me for confidential advice or guidance about your child’s health or development; during the pandemic these consultations are being conducted by Zoom or telephone.

My consultations are free of charge and they are confidential.

You can book an appointment with me via the Norfolk House Nursery staff.

You can also follow me on Facebook if you wish: