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My Toddler Doesn’t Want to Leave Daycare at Pick-Up Time

My Toddler Doesn’t Want to Leave Daycare at Pick-Up Time

My son has been throwing fits during pick-up time at daycare recently. It’s a new phenomenon and one that has been tough for both my wife and I. We are thrilled he likes being with his teacher and friends, but dealing with this battle at the end of the long workday is hard. He’s fine once we get home! Anyone else dealing with pick-up time tantrums? Any advice? – Timmy

Pick-ups can be emotional times for all sorts of reasons. At the end of the day, a child may be tired, and “going to pieces” may be a natural reaction to the sight of the person they are closest to – you! Acting out can also be a way to test the situation – or he may just want to stay a while in the place that he’s having fun.

How to Ease the Stress of Daycare Pick-Ups

Tough pick-ups happen to everyone; here parents from our Bright Horizons community share their words of advice for making daycare pick-ups a smoother process:

When my son was in preschool, he struggled with transitions. We went through a phase where he would hit other kids when my husband came to pick him up. What worked for my son is to give him time to finish whatever it is he’s doing or playing. We also allowed him to say goodbye to his friends on his own timeline, within reason, and bribing him with an apple or cracker on the way out also helped! – Amy

Same as daycare drop-off, try to develop a pick-up routine (i.e. a lap around the classroom to show what learning centers were played in that day before leaving, or draw a quick picture– a smiley face– to leave for the teacher ” to remember you” before leaving, signing out together, doing a Blue Hat, Green Hat (by Boynton) sort of getting dressed to go routine, etc.) Talking it over with your little one may even help too. I.e.. “We noticed you’ve been having a tough time at the end of the day how about we do something every time mommy/daddy comes that will help make it easier for you. Which do you think would make it easier for you?”–… and then give two or three choices… then when he picks continue… — “Good choice! Ok, so every time mommy/daddy comes we will do (insert choice) so that the end of the day will be happier for you, ok?” – Adrienne

Talk about what you’re going to do at home and who you’ll see. For us, I often say, “let’s go home to see daddy!” and my daughter’s face lights up. I sometimes have her lovie in the car waiting for her as well in case she needs that distraction from whatever she and her friends were doing before I arrived. – Laura

My daughter went through a brief phase of this. What helped us was setting aside dedicated time as soon as we got home after pick-up for mommy-daughter time. We would sit and color for 15-20 min, read a book, or simply snuggle on the couch and talk about her day. Once this became part of our routine, it became special time she looked forward every day. This made leaving the daycare center an easier process for everyone – mommy, teacher, and daughter! – Tonya

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