How to Say Goodbye at Drop Off and Avoid the Tears

father walking little daughter with backpack to school or daycare

How to Say Goodbye at Drop Off and Avoid the Tears

When my 2.5 year old daughter, Addy, was between 4 and 7 months old, she struggled with separation anxiety. I noticed it the most when I would drop her off at childcare at our church on Wednesday mornings. I attended a Bible study group comprised of moms, and we would leave our children in the caring hands of volunteers in the church’s nursery. As a mother, it was much-needed time for me to sip coffee and find encouragement from friends. But saying goodbye at drop off was making my daughter and I very anxious.

Unfortunately, it was hard to drop Addy off. She would start to scream as soon as I’d hand her over to her caregivers. “She cried non-stop for the first ten minutes,” they’d tell me when I got back. “And not just sad tears, either. She seemed angry!” I was, however, encouraged by the fact that at least she would stop crying after 10 or 15 minutes. As time passed, I found that Addy’s separation anxiety decreased as she got more familiar with the women who were watching her, and came to trust them.

How to Say Goodbye at Drop Off

This kind of scenario is all too common in drop off situations. Saying goodbye to your child at drop off is not always easy. Whether your baby or preschooler goes to daycare, or you have a babysitter come over a few times a week, the saying goodbye can be rough. Even dropping junior off at grandma’s house can elicit a tearful response from your child . . . and she’s his grandmother!

At these times, remember that your little one is constantly going through new developmental stages. As a result, you may find that one day it’s easy to drop him off at childcare and say good-bye, while the very next day he cries and finds it nearly impossible to let go of you! Through my experience as a mom, babysitter, teacher, and school administrator, I’ve assembled a few tips that I have found to be useful in making the “good-bye” process easier.

1. Create a consistent routine before drop off.

Children thrive off of a consistent routine. Predictability can help them to better cope with the often unpredictable emotions that they may be feeling at any given moment. Having a set routine ensures that at certain times of day they can expect a constant. This gives your child a sense of security.

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For example, making sure that your little one has had their diaper changed, been fed breakfast or a bottle, and had a hug or cuddle time with you before you drop them off ensures a pattern that leaves them feeling well-cared for before you say goodbye.

2. Let your child know that you will come back.

Even if your child is under one-year-old, get in the habit of letting your child know that you’re leaving and when she can expect you to return. This can help establish a line of communication and a bond of trust between you and your child.

If your child is sensitive about you leaving, sneaking out the door while she is not looking typically doesn’t work. It may even backfire because when your child realizes you are no longer there, she may cry. The lack of communication from you reinforces a feeling of abandonment and may worsen the overall situation. Ultimately, you want your child to understand that you will come back. And that it is okay for them to stay in this new place without you.

3. Don’t stay too long at drop off.

Lingering at your child’s daycare or in the room with a babysitter can cause your child some measure of confusion. It can ultimately make it harder to part when the time comes to say goodbye. Unless it is your child’s first time with the sitter or childcare provider (in which case you can stay a bit longer to help them acclimate and get comfortable) it is better to give your little one a quick hug, tell them when you’ll be back, and say farewell.

I had a parent who tried to stay for almost twenty minutes every time she dropped her preschooler off in my class, though her child was doing fine. In fact, he would say goodbye to her and run off excitedly and play. Her presence seemed to be more about her own anxiety and difficulty separating with her son then about the child’s actual circumstance.

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I had to gently tell her that this process was not beneficial for her son. He would circle back, confused as to why she was still there. It also caused stress and confusion for other children who didn’t understand why one mommy was staying while their parents had left. This particular parent got upset and actually pulled her son out of my care, but I think the situation spoke more to the personal challenges she was feeling than anything else.

4. Encourage distractions.

Allow the caregiver to distract your child with a toy, activity, visit to the mirror, etc. Be sure to say goodbye, but release your child’s attention and help the caregiver to take over with his or her method of distraction without injecting your own.

5. Be aware of your emotions; your child will pick up on them.

Your little one is a sponge and highly sensitive to how you are feeling, what you say, and what you do. This is because babies and young children are biologically designed to be entirely dependent on their caregivers at this early stage in life. So they are greatly attuned to what their caregivers are feeling.

This also means that your little one may absorb and even copy some of the emotions you’re feeling. With this in mind, it can be helpful to put on an upbeat face for junior when you say goodbye, to leave him with a sense that everything is okay.

I’m not suggesting stuffing your feelings—if it’s hard for you to say goodbye and you’re feeling sad it’s healthy to address those feelings with another adult. You could even to talk with your little one about what saying goodbye feels like. But do this in a setting outside the classroom and at a time when you’re not about to leave your child (i.e.: at home together on the weekend).

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6. Talk to your caregiver.

Maintaining an open line of communication with your child’s caregiver helps in all areas of your child’s development. Including navigating the drop-off process. Have a conversation with your caregiver about what to expect at drop-off. Also tell them about any fears, hopes, or expectations you may have related to the experience.

It is perfectly normal to have some anxiety around the process of saying goodbye to your little one when you leave them with a new caregiver. Ideally, have this conversation with your childcare provider prior to the drop-off—for example, via e-mail, at an in-person classroom meeting, or on a phone call.

7. Understand what stage of development your child is going through.

The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that separation anxiety generally peaks between ten and eighteen months. It should decrease during the last half of the second year. Be aware that your child may go through periods of ease at drop off, followed by weeks of difficulty of saying good-bye. This is not necessarily a reflection on your methods, or those of your caregivers. It may be as simple as a change in their cognitive development. Additionally, your child is more vulnerable to separation anxiety when he feels tired, hungry, or sick. So keep that in mind if the struggle seems sudden or out of the ordinary.

If the crying is constant and happens consistently for months, you may want to consider a different childcare option. Listen to what your gut is telling you. If you feel strongly that the childcare situation is not best for your child, then consider turning to friends, family, or other reliable sources to help you find an alternative childcare option. Likely, the caregiver you’ve chosen is great, and your little one’s separation anxiety will pass within weeks. Soon, saying goodbye at drop off will be a quick and easy affair. And before you know it, you’ll be the one crying as you drop them off at college!

About the Author /

Kristen v.H. Middleton is a former school teacher & administrator turned stay-at-home-mom. She lives with her husband and children in eastern Washington.

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How would you finish this sentence? . . .⁠ You k How would you finish this sentence? . . .⁠
You know you have a newborn when _______.⁠
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Sure, your provider loves to fawn over your sweet baby, but this appointment is about mom. How are YOU doing? Self-care is so important to your health and recovery after having a baby, so let this appointment focus on your well-being. 😊⁠
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YES 👏 IT 👏 DOES👏⁠ Go and find your troo YES 👏 IT 👏 DOES👏⁠
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📷: @hallmarkbaby⁠
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An amazing story from a determined mom to breastfe An amazing story from a determined mom to breastfeed her #triplets. 💗 With hard work, determination, help and support, anything is possible.
Words & 📷: @triplets_and_toddler
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“I breastfed my first child so I knew I wanted to #breastfeed again. People were skeptical about me #breastfeeding triplets, and this drove my determination! 💪 My boys were born at 29+3 and therefore it was so important for them to have #breastmilk! 🤱
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After having an emergency C-section, I knew there was no time to rest, so I started hand expressing within the first hour. I set an alarm to ensure that I expressed every 2 hours during the day and every 3 hours overnight. ⏰
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Being separated from my boys was hard so having pictures/video links helped whilst I expressed. Seeing my teeny, vulnerable babies in their little incubators drove my determination to provide them with my milk! I also rotated muslin squares between us so that I could smell them and vice versa. This also helped me whilst I expressed during the night away from my boys. Their smell on the swaddles kept me focused! 💙
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Twice during our #NICU journey my boys were split between hospitals over an hour apart! This was the hardest time and meant I was separated from 2 of my boys for a couple of days. During this time I kept up with expressing and ensured that all three of them had enough milk to take with them until we were all reunited.
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Looking back I feel it is my sheer determination that has really enabled me to successfully breastfeed my triplet boys! Not once have they needed donor or formula milk. It required a massive commitment both physically and emotionally but I am so proud of my achievement! My boys are now 11 months and are still breastfeeding." ❤️
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*This story is not to bring any mothers down that choose to formula feed. (I, personally, had to give my son formula at 7 months old!) We share this mother's story to inspire mothers and celebrate our victories! ✨
If you are having breastfeeding struggles and want to succeed, contact a good local IBCLC and receive support. Find new mom friends who are also breastfeeding who can encourage you. And if you choose to formula feed, we honor you too. 💕 #mommychick
WTF 😑⁠ (via @thenatewolf via Twitter)⁠ .⁠ WTF 😑⁠
(via @thenatewolf via Twitter)⁠
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#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #momhumor #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #mommychick
Repeat after me . . . 💗⁠ (quote via @friscoar Repeat after me . . . 💗⁠
(quote via @friscoareamoms)⁠
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#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #mommychick #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #positiveaffirmations #motherhoodaffirmations
🧠 4 Ways to Promote Your Child's Mental Health 🧠 4 Ways to Promote Your Child's Mental Health 🧠⁠
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Your child’s mental health is fairly complicated. It's also critical to their overall health and wellness. We often think of mental health as it pertains to adults, but just like growth and physical development, research shows that mental health is something that should be considered starting at birth. ❤️⁠
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When children are very young, their brains are extremely sensitive to environmental stress. Toxic stress, defined as high levels of prolonged stress, can have life-long effects on children. Limiting stress for young children is critical for their early mental health. One of the most fundamental ways we can help eliminate toxic stress is by building a strong relationship foundation from the very beginning of their lives. Your relationship with your baby is an integral part of their sense of self-esteem, independence, and confidence; three key factors in mental health.⁠
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Building that relationship with your child can be broken down into four key concepts . . . {Click 🔗 in bio to find out what they are!}⁠
📷: @vlentine⁠
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#parenting #parenthood #parentlife #motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #mommychick #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣
Just in case you call her a boy, here's a MASSIVE Just in case you call her a boy, here's a MASSIVE bow that shows she's a girl . . . yet still somehow get's called a boy. 🤷⁠
📷: unknown⁠
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#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #momhumor #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #mommychick
💤 Good Bedtime Routines for Babies of Every Age 💤 Good Bedtime Routines for Babies of Every Age 💤⁠
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If you’ve ever typed into Google, “Why won’t my baby sleep?” you’re not alone. In fact, you’re among thousands of other parents/caregivers who are likely as tired as you are. Chances are, if you have gone down the Google rabbit hole at 2:00 a.m. (or just asked your pediatrician for sleep advice), then you’ve most likely been introduced to the concept of a bedtime routine.⁠
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A bedtime routine can be an incredibly helpful tool in establishing healthy sleep habits and good sleep hygiene. Infants and young children thrive on routine; in fact, they are comforted by predictability (spoiler alert: most adults are this way, too!). Plus, a young mind is exposed to so much new information every day that it’s reassuring for a child to know that they can depend on certain events to have a predictable structure.⁠
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Bedtime routines are also a cue to their brains and bodies that sleep is coming. With a predictable bedtime routine, your little one will start to recognize the order of the routine and begin to anticipate what comes next. With enough repetition, this process happens automatically in a very Pavlovian way. A calm and successive routine will also make the onset of sleep come more easily. Can you imagine if you walked out of your workout and immediately someone told you that you had to lay down and fall asleep? This would be nearly impossible, and the same is true for our little ones. By allowing them some time to unwind, you are making the falling asleep process that much easier. Here are some tips on what to do for your little one's bedtime. ❤️⁠ {Click 🔗 in bio to read more!}⁠
📷: @hannahxruth⁠
Article by: @ohbabyconsulting⁠
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#babysleep #goodnight #bedtime #bedtimeroutine #nightnight #sweetdreams #sleepconsultant #babysleeptips #sleepcoach #parenting #sleeptips #motherhood #babylove #sleeptraining #parentingtips #sleeping #toddlersleep #sleephelp #parentinghelp #sleepcoaching #parenthood #sleepdeprived #sleeptraininghelp #babysleepconsultant #babychick #mommychick #momlife
THIS. The struggle is real.⁠ ⁠🥴 📷: @brit THIS. The struggle is real.⁠ ⁠🥴
📷: @britt.kav⁠
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#parenting #parenthood #parentlife #motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #mommychick #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #momhumor
It's the beeeeeessssttttt . . . 😬😑 (quote vi It's the beeeeeessssttttt . . . 😬😑
(quote via @smalltowntallgirl)⁠
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#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #momhumor #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #mommychick
🤗 7 Tips for Raising Secure and Happy Kids 🤗 🤗 7 Tips for Raising Secure and Happy Kids 🤗⁠
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Parenting is hard. And ever so important. But sometimes it feels like we need to have a special degree in “Managing Toddler Mood Swings” to navigate some of the unexpected scenarios that come with raising secure and happy children.⁠
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Like how do we handle a child that likes to scream instead of talk?⁠
“Please, child, just lower your voice while we’re in Target.”⁠
Or what are we supposed to do when a child prefers to strip down every time we get them dressed or only eat foods that are the color blue?! (In case you’re wondering, there aren’t many blue foods.)⁠
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It can feel tricky and tiring to try and do it all right and then sometimes still feel like you’re at a loss. But the truth is, there’s never any way to make everything perfect. But there are things we can do that set our children up to feel secure and happy. And here are seven of my favorite tips. {Click 🔗 in bio to read more!}⁠
📷: @lauren.stewart_dc⁠
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#parenting #parenthood #parentlife #motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #mommychick #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣
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