Saying goodbye to your toddler when dropping them off at daycare isn’t easy for a parent or child. The dreaded daycare tears and screams would break any parent’s heart. Yet, did you know that there are strategies for more effective goodbyes that leave kids and parents feeling more secure? Let’s look at goodbye rituals for toddlers that parents can use to avoid tears at daycare drop-off.
Why Saying Goodbye to Kids is More Than Just Words
The daycare drop-off can come with anxiety for both you and your toddler. It isn’t easy to leave your child with a childcare provider without feeling sad and guilty as a parent. For toddlers, it can bring on feelings of separation anxiety. That’s why you need to be strategic in how you say goodbye to your toddler.
And we aren’t just talking about the words that you use. Saying goodbye to young children also includes the body language that you are using. If you’re dreading daycare drop-off, your toddler will pick up on this – making them more anxious. While the words you use when saying goodbye matter, so does your body language and actions.
So, how do you say goodbye to preschoolers and toddlers to avoid tears at daycare drop-off?
Goodbye Rituals for Toddlers and Preschoolers
If you struggle with saying goodbye to your children when leaving them with a babysitter, grandparent, or an early learning provider, create a consistent goodbye ritual. Goodbye rituals for toddlers should leave them feeling secure and confident, knowing that they are safe and that you’ll be coming back.
These goodbye rituals may take time for you and your child to get used to. But, over time and with consistency, your child will come to expect them and will find daycare drop-off a more enjoyable experience. However, before you start creating goodbye rituals for toddlers, you need to understand the right and wrong ways to say goodbye.
The Goodbye Strategies to Avoid
Goodbye rituals for toddlers need to be strategic. Your child’s tears will be the telltale sign that the ritual needs some adjusting. To help you get on the right track, here are the goodbye rituals that you should adopt and the ones you should avoid at all costs.
The Wishy-Washy Goodbye
When saying goodbye to your toddler or preschoolers, you need to do it with conviction. You need to show and tell them that they will be fine and have a lot of fun while you’re away. If you believe it, they are more likely to believe it themselves.
That’s why you should always avoid saying something like, “Are you sure that you’ll be okay?” This will make them doubt themselves and feel insecure. It is your job to reassure your child, not look to them for reassurance that they will be okay.
The Slow and Painful Goodbye
Even if you’re not looking forward to saying goodbye to your toddler, don’t make it longer than it has to be. Dragging it out will do neither of you any good and increase the likelihood of tears. Make sure that you avoid phrases such as “come here and give Daddy one more hug before I go to work. You’ll have a lot of fun, but I’ll miss you when you’re at daycare.”
The Commando Goodbye
Many parents fail victim to this goodbye ritual at daycare drop-off. While it may seem like you are helping your child, telling your child what they should do when they get to their classroom can make it harder for them to settle and ease into their early learning environment.
How can you avoid the Commando Goodbye? Don’t say things like “Go and make a tower of blocks when you get to class” or “Why not paint me a picture of that dog we saw this morning?” Instead, let them make up their own minds about how they want to cope with being separated from you.
The Sneaky Goodbye
As a parent, you should never try to avoid having to say goodbye by sneaking off either. While it may be tempting to slip out unnoticed while your child is happily engaged in an art activity, this can cause more harm. Once your toddler notices that you left and didn’t say goodbye, this will cause them to roar with tears, giving them trust issues.
Do this once or twice, and you’ll notice your child becoming extremely unwilling to go to daycare in the first place, or they will cling to you with a vice-like grip.
The Goodbye Ritual to Adopt
Goodbye rituals for toddlers should leave everyone feeling confident and happy. The key to saying goodbye to your child when dropping them off at an early learning center is to keep it short, sweet, but full of reassurance. Let them know that they are being left in good hands, and you’ll see them very soon. So, the next time you dread saying goodbye at daycare drop-off, simply say, “I’ll be back when daycare is over. See you soon.”
Yes, avoiding tears is that easy. For more on how to make daycare drop-off easier, read our tips on getting your child ready for daycare and school.