Creating a Positive Drop Off Experience
Dr. Kristi Smith, D.Ed., M.Ed.   •   July 15, 2022

Dropping your child off at a child care center and walking out the door can be easier said than done for many families. It can be an emotional experience for parents and guardians, especially when a child struggles with understanding why they are being separated from their home caregivers.  Many children have problems during the transition because they have a hard time grasping the concept of time and when mommy or daddy will be returning.

Below is a list of suggestions that can help make the drop-off experience an easy and efficient routine!

  • Acknowledge Your Child’s Feelings- Many young children will go through different stages of separation anxiety. This is a normal part of development. Acknowledging this and talking to your child about how they feel can be important. Let them know it is ok to be sad when mommy or daddy leave, but they will have so much fun learning with friends today and that you will come back.
  • Sometimes adding specifics such as “I am leaving right now for you to have time to play and have fun with friends.  I will be back right after nap time/lunch time/ playground time, etc.” can help with the transition. This will help your child know, in a concrete sense, when to expect you back, especially once they learn the classroom schedule.
  • Acknowledge Your Own Feelings- Many parents also struggle with their own emotions regarding dropping their child off, especially if they have been home with them for a while. Identify how you are feeling and prepare yourself. Your child can “feed” off of your own emotions. If you appear anxious and nervous, they will pick that up. If you appear calm and positive, that can impact your child in a positive way.
  • Explore the Classroom Together- When you arrive, take a few minutes to point out the fun activities they will be doing today. Watch your child play with blocks or at a table top activity for a moment. Giving your child a minute or two to get involved and focused on an activity can help you easily walk out without causing extra stress on your child.
  • Create a Ritual- Just like at bedtime, routines help children know what to expect next and ease anxiety. Your child might do well with the same drop off routine every day. It may include back pack up, hug, kiss, and table top activity, etc. Whatever the routine, keep it simple and consistent to help your child know what to expect.
  • Expect a Few Tears- There may be a few tears, especially if the classroom is new. This is ok. Your child simply loves you and wants to be with you. While it may be hard to experience the tears, know that your child’s teacher will be there to love on your child and help them transition.

While some days may be smooth and other difficult, remember that your child will almost always calm down in just a few minutes after you leave and have an amazing day! Transitions can be difficult sometimes, but these tips can help everyone have a better day.

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