Saying Goodbye: An Investigation into Parent–Infant Separation Behaviours on Arrival in Childcare
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The goal of this small-scale study was to investigate how parental separation behaviours affect the transitional behaviour of infants aged 6–18 months. Thirty parent–infant pairs were observed during the separation process across three metropolitan childcare centres in Adelaide, South Australia. Observed interactions with both their infants and centre caregivers reveal that participating parents concentrated more on routine tasks and conversations with caregivers than on interacting with or responding to their infant prior to separation. Parents also shared information more frequently with caregivers and rarely spoke with their child about their return to the centre. Infants were typically immobile, engaged in watching behaviours and were in close proximity to a caregiver 15 minutes after their parent's departure. The findings confirm that the daily (or regular) parent–infant separation process is dyadic in nature. This paper offers tentative ideas for childcare practice and further avenues for research to consider the focus and speed of parent–infant separations in ways that may better support the infant's reoccurring transition into their childcare environment.