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My Child Cries At Drop-Off and I Want to Too!

Written on February 3, 2020

What should you do if your child cries at drop-off?  Dropping your child off at preschool, daycare or a babysitter can be a time of anxiety for both parent and child but it doesn’t have to be! Here are some do’s and don’ts of dropping off your teary-eyed child.

    1. Do – Leave- This is huge! If your child cries at drop-off, the longer you linger and extend that goodbye the harder it is for your child to adjust to drop off. This makes your child think they may not have to stay or you will stay with him or her. As a former preschool teacher, one of the most effective ways to leave is to have a short goodbye ritual, for example, “one hug, one kiss, I love you!  Then, mom, you’re out the door. “But my child is clinging to me for dear life or chasing after me, what should I do?” You can let your child’s teacher know you may need some help with separation. Preschool teachers are very creative and can usually find a way to redirect or help your child make a smooth transition. 

    2. Don’t – Sneak out when they are not looking. This can be scary for your child. Always make sure you tell your child, “I have to go now but I will be back to pick you up after school.”  Always say goodbye to your child and let them know who will be back to pick them up at the end of the day.

    3. Do – Tell them they will get to do fun things in school and say it with a smile. Your child wants to feel safe in his/her preschool environment so your expression will help him/her realize it’s going to be GREAT and they will be safe and have fun!

    4. Don’t – Show fear or sadness when you are dropping off your child. If you look scared or sad, your child will be scared and sad and will continue to have a difficult time adjusting. We want our kiddos to feel safe at school so slap that smile on your face and show your excitement for them! 

    5. Do – Acknowledge your child’s tears. Tell your child you understand they are feeling sad but reassure them they are going to have fun, play with friends, make cool stuff and you will see them after school to hear all about it. Your child wants to know you think he/she is in a safe place and you care about his/her feelings and how he/she is feeling at that moment. 
    6. Don’t- Become frustrated with your child’s crying.  It can be scary leaving a parent. Your child’s fear of abandonment is real and he/she needs to know you understand his/her feelings. Acknowledge their feelings, reassure them, and leave.

Remember to give your child time to adjust to this new routine.  They may cry for a couple of days or a couple of weeks. Hang in there and stay consistent with the do’s and don’ts. It can be hard for a parent to walk away when their child is crying.  But, if you make those goodbyes short and sweet you will be picking up a child that is happy to see you and excited to tell you all about their day.  

If your child continues to have difficulty during drop off please contact BDI Playhouse Children’s Therapy for a free consultation. You are not alone and we can help!

Written by Jessica Frederick COTA/L