Have you seen the movie, “Dennis the Menace”–the one in which the outstanding Walter Matthau plays Mr. Wilson? If you have, you’ll know what I’m talking about, but if you haven’t, well, you should.
Anyway…one of the first scenes in the movie shows Alice (Dennis’ mom) taking Dennis to Margaret’s house so that Margaret’s mom can watch him due to the fact that she (Alice) is going back to work after being a stay-at-home mom for the last several years. Margaret, who is Dennis’ age, is quite the little bossy-britches and about as girly-girl as a 7 year old can get. So when Dennis hears where he is going, he exclaims, “Don’t make me go to Margaret’s house! I haven’t done anything bad enough to go to Margaret’s house!” Oh, yes, and he is lying on the ground being pulled up the sidewalk by the straps of his overalls.
Does this sound like you?
Do you start each day with hassles and struggles of dropping off your child at day care? Do you leave them crying or begging you to not go? Talk about guilt trip! But you have to go to work, so what’s a mom to do?
Get to the root of the problem
The fact that your toddler isn’t wanting you to leave them behind isn’t really the issue. What is the issue is why they don’t want to be left. Getting to the root of the problem is the only way you’ll be able to resolve the problem and start your day off right.
- Is your child feeling ill? There’s no place like home when you don’t feel well. This will likely explain an occasional reluctance to day care.
- Is your child fearful of another child in the day care? Bullies come in all shapes and sizes…and ages. It’s hard to think about the fact that a 3 or 4 year old can be so intimidating that they would cause another child to be fearful of them, but it happens. Talk to your child’s care giver. They can alert you to issues without naming names. Besides, they need to be aware of the situation.
- Is your child fearful of their care giver? No parent wants to think about this, but it happens. Do your homework. You can ask your child questions without seeming interrogative that will get them to open up. Also, keep your eyes open as to what’s going on when you drop your child off and pick them up.
- Are they simply displaying temporary separation anxiety? Sit in the car a few moments and then peek into the window or door. Are they fine? Good. Are they still crying? What is being done to sooth them?
- Is your child/family going through a stressful time due to divorce, illness or death? Children will act out due to their fears, anxieties and uncertainties.
- Are you re-entering the work force after being home for the first year or two or three with your child? You are rocking their world! You are likely a bit nervous, so just think about what they’re feeling?
What you can do
First and foremost, fix whatever you can fix in regards to the ‘why’ of your child’s anxiety. Once those issues have been addressed, patience, reassurance and making the most of the time you have together will likely take care of the issue.
Be patient. Your little one my subconsciously be lying on a bit of guilt, but that is not their number one priority. Toddlers who experience and display angst are feeling the same.
Reassurance. Don’t think a ‘I’ll be back’ or ‘Don’t worry’ will suffice. Toddlers have no concept of time. When you tell them you’ll be back after while means nothing. To them, after while means when Dora the Explorer is over. Give them something concrete to latch on to; a television show, after their nap time…something they can see. Never leave in a hurry. Always take the time for hugs and kisses. Also, make it a good thing by reminding them of a favorite toy at preschool or a special event such as finger painting day.
Spend time with your child. If all they get of you is meal time, bath time and a token bedtime story, you can’ expect them to be happy and satisfied with that. The day care will be viewed as the enemy-robbing them of time with you. A child needs and craves time with their parents and you need to give it to them.
This, too, shall pass
If you could see into the future, you’d realize that all too soon those same little hands that are clinging to your neck or tugging and pulling on you-begging you to stay are the same hands that will be put up in protest if you walk too close at the mall about the time they turn 12 or 13. So my advice is to be patient, reassuring, involved and relational with your little one because one of these days (in the not-so-distant future) you’ll be wishing for them back.
Article by Darla Noble Darla Noble has been married to her childhood sweetheart, John, for 32 years. They are the parents of 4 beautiful children, an equally beautiful daughter-in-law, three son in-laws, 2 perfect granddaughters and are anxiously awaiting the arrival of 2 more grandchildren in the next few months. Darla, who has 25 years of experience, is passionate about her writing; mainly focusing on parenting/family issues, women’s interest, inspirational storytelling and writing to, for and about teenagers. Darla has also spent 20 years speaking to women and teens-inspiring them to live a life of love, faith, passion, wit and wisdom.
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