My daughter clawed onto me, begging me not to go. I unfurled her fingers from my hair and handed her off. My daughter screamed and wailed… tears streaming down her beet red face. Then I just turned around and left. I could hear her cries as I walked away, right out of the daycare center.
Sounds pretty dramatic right? Well, when your kid hates daycare you essentially feel like you are abandoning your child each day in a evil world of torture and sadness. That is, until you get a text message from her daycare teacher 5 minutes later, showing your happy child hugging friends, dancing outside and making play-doh.
As a working mom of two, I have had my fair share of experience with daycare. I think daycare is wonderful for a number of reasons. They learn so much from other kids along with life lessons like sharing, working in groups and more.
However, daycare isn’t all rainbows and puppies. Both my kids went through phases where they absolutely hated daycare and it was torturous for me. There is nothing worse than dropping off a crying child, however I do have a few tips and tricks to help you get through it.
What to Do When Your Kids Hates Daycare
1. Schedule a Meeting with Teachers
Childcare teachers have seen it all and are a great place to start when your kid is hating daycare. Schedule a one-on-one meeting to try and find out what is going on. Does your child cry all day or just during drop off? Is there a certain time of day that makes them upset? Was there a change in the classroom routine?
This gives you an opportunity to hear what your child’s teacher thinks is happening, while sharing what you have been experiencing. Usually, the teacher will work with you to try and narrow down the issues and come up with solutions. Working together will only benefit your child.
2. Try to Find Ways to Make Their Day Special
If your child is having a tough time, maybe leave a special treat in his lunch. Let your daughter select her own outfit for school, even if it doesn’t match. Let them select a special new blanket for nap time. Create a reward system for successful days.
3. Be Firm
Sometimes you are just going to have to walk away and leave a screaming child. It sucks. But I have learned that dragging it out is even worse. The longer you linger, the more hope you give your child that you may just decide to take them back home. You have to be firm and keep your emotions in check.
The story I opened this post with is a true one. My daughter majorly hated daycare when she moved up to the 3 year old class. Each morning, I would remind her of the rules and stick to my guns. No matter how upset she was I would keep the goodbyes short.
Once, after they had walked her into the class and I could still hear her crying… I burst out in tears myself while leaving. (passing horrified parents on the way) The school actually called me on my cell phone to see if I was okay and my daughter’s teacher sent me a picture of her smiling with friends.
4. Check In
Teachers are super accessible these days. I was able to email and text with my both my kids daycare teachers. My son is no longer in daycare, but I can easily check-in to see how my daughter is doing. If your child is having a rough go, maybe ask the teacher for more frequent updates to help ease your stress.
5. Know This Will Pass
Children go through many different phases, and before you know it, they will be happy and excited to go to daycare. Really. It will happen. I know it is hard to see the light when you are dropping off a crying child every day, but it does get better. Just stay strong, stick to a routine and continue constant communication with daycare employees. In the meantime, it is okay to cry in your car on the way to work, we have all done it. 😉
I do want to add one note: If you get a ‘bad’ feeling from your child’s daycare or are not happy with the communication, please go with your gut. If you ever have doubts about where you are leaving your child each day, it is time to find a new daycare.