20 answers

Son Does Not Want to Leave Daycare

My son has recently started throwing fits when I come to pick him up at day care. He is an only child and only spends 2 days a week in a licensed in-home daycare setting. My son's best buddy is 7 years old and happens to be the day care provider's son. (Who is also an only child) The two of them get along great, but I can't stand his tantrums when I get there to pick him up. He screams and cries and says he doesn't want to go home. I've bribed him a couple of times to save the embarrassement. The bribes are not working anymore and my feelings are hurt. Not sure what to do...please help!!!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you ALLL for all of the wonderful advice!! Thursday was a much better day, however, his buddy wasn't there so he didn't have any problem going home with me. I will try to give him more warning before we have to leave...although that hasn't really made much of a difference. The daycare provider is happy to give him some warning prior to my arriving and she is asking her son to assist us too. Sooo, I'm sure things will get better. Thanks again for all of your suggestions!!

Featured Answers

Hey M. -

This is completely normal behavior, and just be glad that he wants to be there! My son both cried when I left in the morning and then cried and trantrumed when I picked him up in the afternoon, lol! Just be firm, don't get wound around the axel, just tell him it's time to go, and that he'll see his friend in a few days.

Another thing to consider -- he may just be a very social kid, who needs more interaction with peers than he is getting. Why not up his schedule to three days a week and see how it goes? He may just need more peer time...

Good luck,

J.

1 mom found this helpful

My son is an only child too and often doesn't want to leave his friends - he asks me when he is going to Jackie's on my days off. Ouch! So, even though I got laid off - we kept him going to daycare 3 consecutive days a week. Breaking up the days didn't work for him - he does best when his life is very predictable. I take him to the library for story time once a week as well. He loves it and loves being a big boy and doing pre-school activities especially art and music - still thinks W is a number but we're working on it.
Hey, if you live near Mountain House we could set up play dates - there are great parks here!
A.

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

Hi M.,
View this as a wonderful blessing! You have found such a wonderful daycare provider that your son loves his time there - he is safe, well cared for, and has even made a best friend!

I know, it is hard to think that your son isn't anxiously awaiting your return in the evening - but think of it this way. How would you feel if your son were standing at the window watching for your return? His little face sad, tears in his eyes?

I've taken my kids to both kinds of daycares. My older daughter went to a wonderful daycare where she loved getting there in the morning and hated to leave. Last year with my younger daughter we had the unfortunate experience of a daycare where she did not want to go in the morning, and was waiting at the window for our return at night. Believe me, you want the kind of daycare where your child loves to go and hates to leave!!

That being said, your best course of action is to arrive and tell your son, "Ok! Five minutes until we leave!" And then after you talk to your daycare lady and see how his day went, you tell him, "Ok! Two minutes and then we leave!" and then when it's time to go - just go. Pick him up if you have to, but go. Don't bargain with him. I've found that with a few minutes warning, my kids are much more likely to go along with the plan, without a fuss. They just have to have the warning of what's going to happen so they can adjust their mindset to it, and then know that whatever you said was going to happen, will really happen.

Good luck! Hang in there!

1 mom found this helpful

Hey M. -

This is completely normal behavior, and just be glad that he wants to be there! My son both cried when I left in the morning and then cried and trantrumed when I picked him up in the afternoon, lol! Just be firm, don't get wound around the axel, just tell him it's time to go, and that he'll see his friend in a few days.

Another thing to consider -- he may just be a very social kid, who needs more interaction with peers than he is getting. Why not up his schedule to three days a week and see how it goes? He may just need more peer time...

Good luck,

J.

1 mom found this helpful

My son never wanted to leave his preschool aftercare program either (he started when he was 2.5). He didn't have full meltdowns, but he made it clear that he didn't want to leave. At first my feelings were hurt, too, but then I learned that lots of kids do this, only child or not (mine is an only child). I was relieved that he was so happy with his environment and had to learn that his not wanting to leave did not mean he didn't love me or want to be with me. He was engaged in something else and didn't want to stop. That's about the extent of reasoning skills at that age. Also, kids need to individuate to develop as little people and then big people. I think the only child thing is more pertinent for us moms because we have not gone through this before and we also don't have a younger child still completely focused us, validating that we are great mommies. I know how hard this is -- please try not to take it personally. I'm sure your son loves you more than anything in the world!

1 mom found this helpful

I had this same problem with my son, who sounds like he is a lot like your son in personality. When I would pick him up at daycare he would routinely try to hit me (sometimes succeeding in hitting me with an open-hand on my face), and would often melt down. I consulted with someone I know who has been a preschool teacher for 30+ years and she reminded me, first of all, that I should feel privileged because a lot of times preschoolers "keep it together" all day long, but wait for you to come home because they have a lot of emotions bottled up and they feel safe melting down in front of you. (That didn't make it any easier to take, but I tried to remind myself that he was melting down because he loves me!)

She recommended a few things--first, if you find that this ends up happening in certain situations (in my case, it was when I picked him up to take him out to the car that he would try to hit me--and sometimes when I would put him in his carseat that he would melt down), then do the whole routine in a different way. I worked with my daycare provider to help me take him out to the car and to get him in his carseat, and that helped. I also tried to be very consistent in how I reacted--if he tried to hit me, every single time I would grab his hand and say (as calmly as I could muster) "We don't hit. That hurts mommy." (Over and over!)

Some kids--especially "spirited" ones--have a hard time transitioning, and if you ask them to to switch gears and leave too quickly that can cause the tantrum. So I also tried to allow a little extra time after I got to daycare and didn't ask him to leave immediately, but gave him an extra 5 to 10 minutes to adjust (playing with toys, saying goodbye to friends). You may want to read "Raising your Spirited Child," which I have found pretty helpful in dealing with issues around transitioning for my spirited and challenging son.

The good news is that my son is now 5 1/2 and is long past all of that. It was at its peak right around 3 1/2, but steadily got better as he headed towards 4. When these behaviors are happening they feel like they will last forever, but they do pass!

Good luck,
V.

1 mom found this helpful

My son is an only child too and often doesn't want to leave his friends - he asks me when he is going to Jackie's on my days off. Ouch! So, even though I got laid off - we kept him going to daycare 3 consecutive days a week. Breaking up the days didn't work for him - he does best when his life is very predictable. I take him to the library for story time once a week as well. He loves it and loves being a big boy and doing pre-school activities especially art and music - still thinks W is a number but we're working on it.
Hey, if you live near Mountain House we could set up play dates - there are great parks here!
A.

1 mom found this helpful

Hey M.- I would try working with your daycare person to "prepare" your son for your arrival. Sometimes children need transition time to get used to the fact that there is going to be a change in thier schedule. My son was the same way at school when it was time for another activity, he would act like his world was falling apart. I worked with his teacher to give him "time warnings" and it really helped. If you know what time you are going to be picking him up, have your daycare provider start to give him "time warnings" about 15 minutes ahead. Have her let your child know that it's time to clean up and get his things together because mom is going to be here soon. Hopefully that will start to get him used to other people's schedules. Sometimes "only children" believe that the world revolves just around them, because at home, it usually does. We have to teach them otherwise, in a loving manner.
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Please don't take it personally. It's wonderful he doesn't want to leave and likes it there. My 2 yr old son is the same way and I took it personally at first. He would fuss/cry all the way home. He doesn't hate home, he is just enjoying socializing/learning. I learned he is very social and loves interacting with other kids - it's different than interacting with adults. Kids are constant activity and attention. Adults have other things to do (drive, make dinner etc, etc)that distract them and it's a different kind of interacting.I also learned my son is hungry at the end of the day and if I feed him dinner immediately when I get home he becomes a much happier child afterwards. Low blood sugar does have an effect! Take some of the others suggestions about routine and time warnings. They might help.

I completely agree with Catherine's advice about the advance warning. Take a timer with you if it will help. Also, no negotiations and don't give in. You are in control, not your son and he needs to understand that. Most importantly, do not take it personally! He is not behaving this way to hurt your feelings. His behavior is his way of expressing his frustration at leaving (or getting something he wants). When it is time to leave, get down to his level, make eye contact and tell him you understand he wants to stay but it is time to go. Give him the words to use to express himself instead of a tantrum. Good luck.

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