The Happy Snappy GoodbyeTags: anxiety, dawdling, daycare / child care, encouragement, fears
Who among us doesn’t dread the pre-amble and fall-out that often accompany leaving our children in the care of others. They cling to our pant leg and plead for us not to go as we stress about what to do in-front of on-lookers.
We worry, we feel guilty, and we wonder if it is the right thing to do. It’s hard – but one of our jobs as parents is to move our children from total dependence at birth to total independence when they leave the nest. It is our role to prepare, not protect, our children for the demands of life.
"You’re never ready until you begin"
– Rudolf Dreikurs
The only way for a child to learn to be away from their parent is it do it. There is no way to "ramp up" to it per se. We learn we can manage – by managing! Your attitude about your child’s ability to manage is everything in this process. If you are not convinced your child should be left, your apprehension will fuel their apprehension. Like wise, your positive attitude will be infectious too!
"The proper way of training children is identical with the proper way of treating a fellow human"
– Rudolf Dreikurs
Start with Respect
Every individual, regardless of age should be informed of things that affect him or her. If a child is starting a new activity or program, they should know this in advance.
Not too much: Don’t go on about it every day for weeks – that only causes the child to deduce that this event must be BIG, why else would mom and dad keep going on about it?
Not too little: Don’t conceal it in order to avoid the child’s reaction. If you do, the child may learn not to trust you and may deduce that there is always some trickery that you are concealing. This creates a perception of a world that is unpredictable, making it difficult to feel safe and secure.
Just Right: In a simple, calm, matter of fact way, let them know what will be happening. If they object, let them know that you have faith that they will manage. Enough said!
Avoid Giving Undue Attention
If they continue to protest, don’t get too involved in trying to sway them to wanting to go. Just stick with a calm, cool, matter of fact response. If you go on and on like a salesmen trying to sway them, they will have discovered a topic you love to talk about and that holds your attention. Once discovered, they will use this topic to keep you busy with them, usually at tuck-in time. I don’t doubt that there will be some fears and apprehensions in children – but dwelling on it can magnify rather than calm the anxieties.
TTFT (Take time for training)
Decide what you want the drop-off to look like. If you want to be able to drop your child off at the door and kiss them good-bye, then this is what you need to train the child to do. How? BY DOING IT! If you come into the class for 5 minutes and then wait outside for another 5, than that is what the child will want and demand every time. That is what they are learning the "routine" is and we all know that kids thrive on routine. You are teaching them a routine you want to abolish — why bother starting?
If you think your child will cling – make arrangements in advance with the adult who will be caring for your child to meet you at the door and help "uncouple" the child from you and take them in. With an ally on the inside who is willing to help make the drop-off snappy, and if you both keep your smiles on and proceed with a calm serene air – you will have accomplished both elements to a "HAPPY SNAPPY GOOD-BYE."
Yes – there will be tears, but the sooner the good-byes are over, the sooner the child calms down and gets engaged in what they are supposed to be doing. To prolong the good-bye actually prolongs the tears and fears. Parents unknowingly are making matters worse instead of better by prolonging the inevitable.
Don’t Reward Expected Behaviour.
And – finally, don’t promise some big treat at pick up time. Offering a treat or a reward just confirms to the child that the place must be horrible because mom feels you need to be compensated for going there!
- It is a gift to let your child learn that they can manage without mom and dad
- It is a gift to have your child have other adult / child bonds and friendship
- It is a gift to yourself to have some child-free time to replenish yourself so you can be re-charged as a parent
- It is a gift to increase your child’s social world
- It is a gift to practice these skills early
5 Responses to “The Happy Snappy Goodbye”
First of all, thanks for writing this post.
What do you suggest that I do with my daughter who is an Aspie? Aspie is short for Asperger’s. This approach will never work for her. My husband has died a few months ago, and she is still not taking that change well at all. Now, I need to work to support us. I’ve always been able to stay home, but the death of my husband has changed things for us. She can’t stay with anyone. She freaks out horribly, and I mean horribly. I’ve tried it, and she just screams and screams the whole time without calming down, and I mean the entire time. She can’t focus/eat/do anything.
Several baby sitters gave up on her when she was a younger child, and it was just so I could get some shopping done for a few hours or have some time to myself. I’ve since stopped leaving her with anyone, as it only gets worse and not better. She has extreme anxiety. i’ve tried everything, and I mean everything. Too bad my husband did not have life insurance. Then, I’d not have to even think of going to work. I suppose I could just sell this place and live somewhere else and reap from the money for awhile. Should I get her on anxiety meds? Any advice is welcome. I will need help. Thanks so much.
Hi, Sadie-May Here. I posted a comment here but do not see it. NOt sure why though. But, I just wanted to tell you that we did come up with a solution. I will be going back to our old house where the children grew up in the Cherokee Nation where i will have an immense amount of help. This way, i do not have to put my daughter through any unnecessary terror, which she does experience when I leave her.
She is comfortable with some of our elders, so we’d thought of the possibility of her spending some time with them, should I want to work in one of our businesses. We talked, and she is fine with that, which is a good start. While it is taking her a much longer time to become independent than most children, i see no rush and feel she will accomplish things when she is ready. If she is not comfortable with staying with strangers, such as daycare workers or school teachers, that is fine. As adults, we do not generally do what discomforts us, so why should children be forced to do so for our benefit? My job as her mother is to listen to her and do what will work best for all of us, including her. I just thought I’d come back to tell you that we have a solution to our problem. sorry you were not able to give your input because I would have loved to know what you’d have said.
Alyson, my husband and I listen to you at our daughters public school. You were fantastic! We started implimenting your ideas immediatly. We have a completly different atmosphere in our house now. It has only been a few months, but the fights have stopped and our once angry and pushy daughter is now a sweet heart. We can’t thank you enough. Our daughter is once again proud of herself and we are back to being loving parents. Thanks for saving our family. And I truly mean that.
Wow what a great testimonial to the power of the Adlerian Parenting theory eh? Congrats and send your friends my way! I have a bunch of talks coming up in the next few weeks.
I have an almost 4 year old who is rarely shy. I have successfully used your techniques for drop off at grandparents houses, and preschool with great success. He is signed up for skating and gymnastics (both that he asked to enroll in). Once he actually enters the class he loves them both. The problem is that neither are actual drop-off activities (the parents stay to watch). My son gets ready willingly and then cries and holds on tight once it is time to actually go in. I don’t know how to help him through this issue!! I have tried sitting with him in the boring coat room but we end up there for the first 15 minutes at least and I don’t think it is appropriate to allow him to enter class late.
Any tips would be greatly appreciated – I am getting frustrated and I know he can sense that which just makes it worse. In our house you are the authority on parenting and every one of your techniques has worked for us with our headstrong and happy boy.