Separation anxiety is a perfectly normal experience for children.

How to Leave Your Toddler at Day Care When He Is Crying

by Tiffany Raiford

Even if you are looking gleefully forward to eight solid hours of adult conversation, clean clothes, and being responsible for the cleanliness of only your own behind, you might feel a little sad to kiss your little one goodbye at the day care door. It’s even harder to say goodbye when your toddler weeps pitifully as you leave. The good news is that this is not uncommon. The bad news is that knowledge of the good news doesn’t make it any easier to leave your crying child. Fortunately, you can make the departure a little less stressful.

Stay calm when your child cries. Create a ritual each morning as you drop him off at day care. Give him a hug and a kiss, wish him a great day, tell him to have fun with his friends, and let him know that you can’t wait to see him later and hear all about how much fun he had at day care. Tell him you love him, and use something he's familiar with to assure him you'll be back. If you always pick him up after nap time, for example, tell him you’ll see him after he wakes up from his nap. This gives him a sense of time.

Get out of there. When you tell your toddler you are leaving and then you come back to console him as he cries, he will only cry harder and longer. Sure, there are days when your child makes you so crazy you have to physically stop yourself from sprinting out of day care to start your quiet freedom. On other days, though, when he's being his most adorable, you might be tempted to turn around and console the poor waif, telling him how much you love him. Don’t. Just go. The employees at the day care center want you to stay as much as they want chickenpox. They know your child will stop crying after you leave, and you are just making it worse by staying.

Schedule a time when you can call to check in on your child. Your day care provider should be happy to make this appointment for you. Call 15 to 20 minutes after you drop your toddler off. Chances are, he’s stopped crying and is happily playing with the other kids.

Pick him up when you said you would. If you promised you’d be there after nap time, be there after nap time. Even if your favorite department store is having a 90 percent off sale, pick that child up. Breaking your promise will only make it harder for him to trust you when you say you’re coming back the next day, and a whole lotta tears are going to fall.


  • Separation anxiety is perfectly normal and happens to many children. Oftentimes, a child’s crying is far worse for the parent than for the child. Keeping that in mind will make it easier for you to leave when your child is in tears.

About the Author

Tiffany Raiford has several years of experience writing freelance. Her writing focuses primarily on articles relating to parenting, pregnancy and travel. Raiford is a graduate of Saint Petersburg College in Florida.

Photo Credits

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