Almost every parent who has used childcare knows this scene. You arrive, ready to scoop up your child and their things and hurry home for dinner. Only your child has different plans. The moment they see you at the door, their demeanor changes. Maybe they run and hide, or perhaps they begin crying. Regardless of their specific reaction, they make it clear that your hopes for a quick departure are unlikely to come true. Meltdowns at childcare pick-up are common, but that doesn’t make them any less trying. Here are some tips on how to help your child with the end-of-day transition.
Allow Plenty of Time
It’s tempting to think of childcare pick-up as a quick in-and-out operation. For your child, however, pick-up time is a big transition. Moving from one caregiver to another can make children feel out of sorts and overwhelmed. With these factors in mind, try to allow plenty of time for the transition from childcare to home. Don’t hurry your child or be impatient when they want to show you something in their classroom. It may help to give yourself a time budget of 5-10 minutes to spend completely at the whim of your child. Once they have reacclimated to your presence, the transition away from the classroom will be easier.
Stick to a Routine
Just as childcare drop-off typically involves a routine, pick-up should follow an expected chain of events. For instance, perhaps you ask your child’s teacher about their day, get your child’s things, ask her to show you one thing she did today, help her into her coat, and then say goodbye to the teacher. The steps you include in your routine are less important than being consistent each day. You may ask your child what she would like to do before she leaves her classroom. This will give you a sense of what she values at that time. Once you have settled on your goodbye routine, rehearse it with your child so that she knows what is coming.
Give Choices Within Reason
Meltdowns at childcare pickup can often be traced back to a child feeling like they’re being interrupted or have no control. To prevent these negative reactions, try offering choices when you can. For example, use simple questions like “would you like to wear your backpack to the car or shall I carry it?” Giving your child a sense of control over the transition away from childcare will help him be more open to the change.
Remember Physical Needs
Just as you are weary and famished as you leave work, your child is probably feeling tired and ready for dinner. While these needs may only be a nuisance to you, they may easily push your child into meltdowns at childcare pick-up. While there’s not really a way to prevent your child’s fatigue and hunger, it will help you be more understanding and prepared. Some parents choose to keep a small snack in the car for children to eat on the way home. This serves the dual purpose of giving the child an incentive to leave the classroom and relieving hunger.
Almost every parent experiences meltdowns at childcare pick-up at some point. At the same time, it can be frustrating and exhausting to help your child calm down. By following these simple steps, you help your child transition back into your care gently and without tears. Are you looking for childcare with teachers who partner with parents to help children transition confidently? Consider Legacy Academy, where every staff member works hard to help every child be his or her best.