We all know the feeling of wrenching your crying child’s hands off of your arm, turning away from their tearful face, and leaving. It is a horrible feeling and leaves parents feeling gutted and drained. It is bound to happen once in a while, but when you are facing tears every day at daycare drop off, it’s time to make a change.
According to the Family Project, there are many possible reasons for your child’s tears at drop off. Your child may crying because she doesn’t like something at daycare. It may be as simple as room temperature, snacks, problems with her classmates, or something else that makes her uncomfortable. Your child could be reacting in anger at the situation or because he feels like he has no control over the situation. Finally, you might be having some effect on your child’s tears because she notices you are anxious or upset at drop off.
In order to find out what is causing your child’s tears, you should start by calmly asking questions of your child and his teachers. Find out if he calms down once you leave or seems upset at certain parts of the day. Ask your child what he likes or doesn’t like, if he has made any friends, if he gets along with his teachers and aides. Through this kind of questioning, you may be able to find out the root of the problem and find solutions.
Things to Avoid
It normally takes a few weeks for kids to get used to going to preschool or daycare. You can help shorten this adjustment period with your own behavior. Remember that your child’s feelings are valid and try to allow her room to feel them. Avoid negotiating or bribing her to stop crying. Offering treats or privileges will only encourage crying in the long run.
Staying calm can be difficult for you, but it will go a long way to lessen the anxiety your child is feeling. Getting angry or upset will prolong the tears. Try to avoid saying goodbye over and over or saying I’m going now, but not leaving. You can stay to comfort your child, but when it’s time to be going, say goodbye and leave.
What you can do Before Daycare
Start by trying to ensure that your child is well rested and has had a good breakfast, which can help towards lessening general crabbiness. Make sure that during the adjustment period you spend some quality one on one time with your child to ensure she feels that she is getting enough attention from you. Make sure to talk about what is going to happen the following day at daycare. Kids tend to forget details, so repeat the schedule a few times. Talk about what lunch will be, when you will be there to pick her up, what activities to expect, and if there are any changes from the normal routine.
Let your child pack a lovey to take with him to daycare. Having a little reminder of home and a little control over what to bring can help with anxiety at drop-off.
What you can do During Drop-off
The most important thing you can do on the way to daycare or preschool is to stay calm and project happy feelings to your kid. Kids are masters at reading faces and assessing situations by how adults are reacting. If you are relaxed and happy, your kiddo is more likely to be as well.
Check in with yourself to see if you are reinforcing your child’s tears. It is natural to comfort your child with physical attention, but in this case you may want to leave the soothing to your child’s caregivers. Make sure to be very friendly to the caregivers, it can help your child relax to know you like them.
Try not to rush goodbyes, but there is a delicate balance between rushing and delaying. Hug your child and make sure that when you say goodbye, you leave. Make sure to always say goodbye and don’t slip away unnoticed, that can heighten anxiety. If you plan ahead with caregivers, you can have a planned distraction like a snack, a favorite activity, or a good friend.
What you can do after
After you have said your goodbyes and head off to work, you might want to check in with the daycare or preschool to see how your child is doing. Knowing that he is happily painting or playing outside will ease your mind for the following drop-off. It may also ease your child’s mind that you know what he did that day, even if he doesn’t know you called.
Try to arrive just when you said you would. On your way home give your child positive feedback on what she did well at school and at drop-off. Talk about what happened that day. Focus on things she liked and talk about solutions to problems she had.
Make drop-offs easier on you and your child
It is normal for little kids to cry when you are leaving, after all they love you and separation can be a big adjustment. Try these tips to make dropping your child off easier for both of you.