Drop-off time at daycare or school can set the tone for your child’s day. Some kids automatically ease into the routine with smiles and happiness, but other children need some more encouragement. To help take the guesswork out of drop-offs, Crème de la Crème put together this list of strategies you can try when you’re looking to encourage happy goodbyes and make dropping off your kids at school or daycare a happier and easier process for everyone.

Encourage a Connection With Teachers

A mother encourages happy goodbyes as she drops off her child at daycare

smiling woman carry baby” used with permission via Unsplash by jonathanborba

If your child feels comfortable with and loved by their teachers, they’ll find it easier to settle in and feel safe in their surroundings. This relationship will develop naturally over time, but you can also take some actions to boost that connection. Some tips to try include:

  • Speak with your child about their teacher at home and on the drive to daycare or school, and help them learn how to say the teacher’s name if your child is already talking.
  • Demonstrate that you like the teacher by greeting and speaking with them in a positive tone, as even babies pick up on and get reassurance from your emotions.
  • Encourage your kid to bring something to show their teacher. Even a freshly picked garden flower works.

Go In With a Plan

Talk to your child’s teacher or school first about drop-off protocol so you know what to expect ahead of time if you know your child struggles with transitions. Then, discuss the plan with your kid. You can do this even with a newborn. Verbalize what will and could happen at drop-off, touching on things like how you’ll say goodbye and then your child will have a great day. Unknowns can be scary for kids. Setting expectations goes a long way in helping your child grapple with their anxieties until you have a routine established.

Create a Drop-Off Routine

You know how your bedtime routine helps your kiddo anticipate when it’s time to sleep? A daycare or school drop-off ritual creates comfort and reassurance, too. As you and your child ease into this new routine, start to develop an age-appropriate sequence of to-dos. Your drop-off ritual can include tasks for your child, such as putting their bag away, washing their hands, and saying goodbye before they move into their in-school routine. No matter what you include, having a known routine helps your little one prepare for your departure.

Show Your Trust

After you say goodbye to your child, you can show your trust in their caregiver. Simply hand off your kid to their teacher and go without making a big deal out of your departure. Your demonstration of trust in your child’s teacher can help your child build their own trust. Show that you consider the teacher a trusted adult by being friendly and chatting about everyday things. And don’t forget to smile.

Be Gentle With Yourself

Even though you’re outwardly demonstrating that goodbyes are nothing to be afraid of, it’s normal to feel some trepidation. Be kind to yourself. Remember that some kids just take longer to adjust to transitions and that young kids don’t understand time in the same way that you do. In other words, your child likely won’t be aware of the exact number of hours a day you’re away from them.

Script Your Goodbye…

Having a go-to goodbye script can make things easier on you while adding to your typical drop-off routine. Saying the same things at every drop-off can help your kid learn when it’s time to say their goodbye to you — while they learn that you’ll, at the end of the day, always return.

…And Always Say It

Sure, when you see your kiddo is happy and playing with a peer or carer, you might feel tempted to simply slip out the door. However, this can make things harder on your child once they realize you left. Making sure to stick to the script gives your child reassurance that you’re coming back. This goes for babies, too.

Don’t Drag Out Your Drop-Offs

Even if you’re (understandably) feeling sad about saying goodbye to your child, model the behaviors you want your child to display. You can cry if you need to — just do it in the car or on the walk back home. Resist the urge to call your kid back for an extra kiss or hug once you’ve said goodbye. If your child is ready to start their day but picks up on your hesitation, they can start questioning their own confidence.

Pro-tip: If you have something you’ll need to discuss for a longer time, schedule a non-drop-off session with the teacher so you don’t draw out the goodbye process. Throwing off your routine can lead to meltdowns.

Acknowledge Your Child’s Emotions

Whether it’s before drop-off or at the end of the daycare or school day, address emotions your child displays. Don’t try to ignore your child’s feelings. By addressing your kid’s emotions in a way that opens up a conversation, you help your child to feel validated and safe. Your child will see that you’re helping them find a solution to real feelings, which in the end helps them learn and grow so they can better tackle their new daily routine.

Let your child know that you know they had a challenging experience but that they got through it and had a great day at daycare or school. You can chat about some of the fun things your kid has done in daycare or school, either the day before or that very day and help guide them to positive thinking about the time they spend away from home.

There you have it! Crème de la Crème just gave you nine drop-off tips for making goodbyes easier and happier, both for your kiddo and for you. Do you have some other strategies you use when saying goodbye to your child? Drop us a line to share other tips parents and caregivers can try to make dropping off their kids a happier, easier process that builds into a positive routine.