Saying goodbye to parents in the morning
As early childhood educators, we’ve all faced children who cry when their mother or father leaves in the morning. This behavior is common in young infants who are just beginning to attend daycare, but it can occur with older children too. As children grow and begin to understand that they will be separated from their parent while they are at daycare, crying can reappear.
Rest assured (and reassure parents). Children go through many childhood fears and the fear of being separated from their parents is normal. It can be present between the ages of 2 and 4 years old. This fear can manifest itself through crying. Some children may also refuse to be separated from their parents and therefore cling to them. Much like separation anxiety (present around 12 months), children’s fear of losing their parents will subside over time with the help of a few simple interventions. Although children’s fear of losing their parents represents a “normal” fear that is part of childhood development, collaborating with parents will help you get through this stage and, more importantly, reassure little ones. Since parents are directly linked to this situation, taking a few minutes to sit down with them to determine how you can work together to help their child is essential.
Here are a few things to consider.
- Be sure to provide a consistent routine. If possible, ask parents to always drop their child off and pick him up at approximately the same time.
- Use simple pictograms to illustrate your daily routine. A picture representing children’s departure at the end of the day should be included in your illustrated routine. Children need visual aids to situate themselves in time. Repeating the same sequence of events every day is reassuring for them.
- When parents drop their child off in the morning, they should make a quick exit. They should not remain in your daycare entrance more than a few minutes, long enough to hug or kiss their child goodbye, wish him a good day, and leave.
- Suggest parents leave a transitional object such as a blanket at daycare for a few weeks. When a child’s parent leaves, allow him to hold his blanket for a few minutes or until he feels comfortable enough to set it aside.
- If possible, let the child enjoy an activity he particularly enjoys upon his arrival.
- Before the child arrives, create a warm and calm atmosphere. Spend a few minutes with the child, one on one. Reassure or rock him if necessary. Make him feel like he can depend on you, that you are available for him.
In conclusion, when a child cries as his parent leaves, observe him closely. Notice how long his cries last and take notes so you can compare results and, hopefully, see his behavior evolve and improve. Chances are, if you intervene consistently, you will quickly see a positive change.
Maude Dubé, specialized educator