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5 Top Tips For Diffusing Drop Off Drama

Updated: Mar 1, 2022

I’m not a psychologist, but after running a preschool and having three kids of my own, I think I’m qualified to give a little advice. It’s more the norm than the exception that first time students (and even some non-first timers) have a tough time leaving Mom and Dad the first few days.

Just because they don’t like it at first, doesn’t mean that they won’t grow to love it.

It’s normal. Don’t worry. If you have a good preschool, they’ll be able to handle it.

But there are some things that you can do to make it easier for your little one (and for you):

1. Perfect your sales pitch. That may sound crazy, but where little kids are concerned, it’s all in the way that things are presented. If you are enthusiastic about it, your child will be more enthusiastic about it. (For the record, this works with almost everything from doctor visits to broccoli… No really.) If your child knows that you’re conflicted about letting your baby go off to school (which, by the way, is also very normal), you’re going to have a tough time convincing them that they’re going to love it.

2. Create a routine (and stick to it…. No matter what.). Little kids thrive on knowing what to expect and when. Surprises may seem like fun, but to little kids, they’re horribly disconcerting. Talk to your little one about what’s going to happen. Build it up.

Pick out a book that we read every night about how Mommies and Daddies come back. I’m a big fan of The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn and it establishes confidence in your child that you’re coming back and you still love them even when you’re not there.

We practice with some of our kids who have more severe separation anxiety repeating after us, “Are Mommy and Daddy coming back?” To which they reply, “Yes.” Then we ask, “Why?” And they know the answer, “Mommies and Daddies always come back.” We work on it with them until they answer us almost like a mantra. And it works. It’s familiar and reassuring. You may want to start practicing it with them at home as part of your routine.

3. Drop and go. Ok, I know that it’s tempting to give millions of kisses and hugs and to want to wait around to make sure that they’re doing well. But don’t. Showing your child that you have confidence in that they’ll be fine will help them to have confidence in themselves that they’ll be fine.

Drop them off, kiss their hand (see tip 2), give a quick hug, tell them you’ll see them after school and cheerily (see tip 1) wave as you leave. Even if they’re screaming their heads off. If you’ve picked a good school (which I’m sure that you have), they’ll be fine. Really. I promise.

4. Stiff Upper Lip. Nothing is harder for a parent than not going to their child if they’re crying. Not getting teary when your child is screaming for you is nearly impossible. But you can’t. If you have to cry, go out to your car and have a good sob. You won’t be the only parent who’s done it.

But don’t let your child see it, smell it or sense it. They have to believe that you’re wholly enthusiastic about them going. It’ll get easier. It just takes time.

5. Pack a little love. In your child’s backpack, pack a picture of you, a picture of you and Dad or a picture of your family. Believe it or not, that’s enough to reassure most kids. Some kids want to carry it with them. And eventually, they don’t need it anymore.

Some of our kids… Actually, now that I think about it, most of our kids bring a lovey with them from home. Either a blanket or small stuffed animal to nap with. It makes it feel a little bit more like home. And that comfort helps them through the whole day.

I’m not promising that these tips will keep your child from crying in the morning. But if you are consistent and you follow these tips, it will get easier.

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