My child clings to me and cries when I leave him/her at child care. What can I do?
One of the most challenging transitions occurs when parents drop-off and pick-up their children from child care. Many stressors accompany this event: parents need to get to work on time, child care providers want to positively greet each family, and children require time to adapt to the change.
To begin, develop a separation routine, such as a kiss, a hug, and kind words, "I'll see you at the end of the day!". Use your separation routine every day to make the transition smoother for children.
In some instances, children need parents to help them make decisions about what to do upon arriving at school. Parents can spend 5 or 10 minutes helping their children decide how to start they day. When parents show an interest in how their children spend the day at child care, children are more willing to get involved with activities and social relationships.
If children continue to be upset during separations, set a limit on how much time you can spend with your child, monitor your watch, and keep your child informed. "Okay sweetheart, I can play house with you for 10 more minutes before I need to leave for work. It's 7:30 now…that means I need to leave at 7:40-what would you like to do until then…?" After the time passes, calmly enact your separation routine and leave for work.
Sara Gable, Ph.D., Human Development and Family Studies, College of Human Environmental Sciences, University of Missouri-Columbia
Last update: Monday, July 07, 2008