Child Unhappy at Daycare
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Child Unhappy at Daycare
My 2 year old just started day care part time (20 hours/week
over 3 days). She's a very mellow kid who easily adapts.
Prior to this she was home with my husband full time, with
occasional periods of time when she would be watched by a
friend a few hours a week.
As expected, she has been crying a lot when she gets there
and has been clingy with my husband the rest of the
days/times she is with him. She is happy when she is there,
playing well, and calming down after 10 minutes or less.
However, 2 weeks later she is still saying she doesn't want
to go and crying whenever we talk about it. She seems
worried on weekends that she's going to be taken there, even
though we communicate to her when she will and will not go.
We even created a little book for her that talks about the
days she goes to day care and the days she doesn't so she
knows what's coming.
I'm not sure what to do to make it better. We are comforting
her a lot, but at what point is this a ''bad fit'' over a
''transition period''? It's also disrupting our sleep - she
naps (now) 2.5-3 hours at day care, and wakes up multiple
times in the middle of the night.
I like where she is going. Since my husband does all the
drop offs and pickups while I'm at work, I'm pretty removed.
That really upsets me, since I feel very helpless. I can't
drop in on the day care provider or even see how she
interacts with my daughter--my husband has to make all these
calls. I have a history of irrational fears when it comes to
child care providers. I'm distrustful of them and worried
they'll do something terrible to my baby girl even if she
loves them and there are absolutely NO red flags. Later I
come to know them and trust them completely. I don't really
know what to do to help my baby and it is heartbreaking how
hard it is for her.
I'm completely confused on how to handle this!
It could really ease your mind to take a couple hours off
of work to meet with your child's primary daycare teachers
and check in. It would be helpful for you to understand
directly from them how they think your child is doing
day to help you feel more connected.
Even if the school is a great fit for you and your child,
the transtion for some kids at this age could take many
weeks. You mention she is fine after you leave, which is
a great sign. I think it's totally normal at that age to
have tears/clinging to parents at drop off, even if they
love daycare otherwise.
The sleep thing sounds like a separate issue that could be
helped by shortning her naps at daycare. You could try
asking them to wake your daughter from after a certain
time to see if that helps her sleep better at night.
Best of luck!
Transitions can be hard and with some kids last a long time. I hope this
experience will help you. In our Nanny share there was a boy who started
when he was around one and a half years old. Previously, he was cared for by
his stay at home father. When they joined our share this little boy cried and
made such a fuss every day for almost 8 weeks when he was dropped off. He
cried for 20 minutes or more after the parents left. My husband and I
discussed how I would have already pulled my child from the share if our
daughter had done this after a couple weeks, because I would have had to
believe that something was seriously wrong. Well, I know that our Nanny
was/is amazing (I work from home and had experiences of walking by her in
the park with them unseen, etc.) and years later I know even more how
amazing our Nanny was. (I would do anything to have her available to hire
again.) These parents stuck with it, and their son eventually loved our Nanny
as much as our daughter did. The point is, transitions can take a long time for
some kids. And I wouldn't be surprised at all if it affected night sleep. Are
there windows at the daycare? Can you take a half day off or something and
drop in without being seen and just observe? I can't really speak to your fears,
but for some kids transitions are long and painful.
Hi, my 2.5 yr old son just started at preschool at the
beginning of January. It took a good 5-6 weeks before he
really stopped protesting being left there- even though he
had a great time while there, and usually stopped crying
within minutes of me leaving. Now he's usually excited to
go, though occasionally he doesn't want to.
I know it's hard, especially since you don't feel able to
see for yourself what is happening. Hang in there a little
longer. If she still really resists after being there a few
months, maybe reconsider things then. And maybe you could
make special arrangements a couple of days so that you can
drop her off/ pick her up, just to feel a little more
connected for your own sake.
Also, maybe you could ask the daycare to wake her from nap
after 1.5 hrs, so she sleeps better at night.
I had to transition my son to a more structured day care
just past the age of 2 and then again around the age of 3
(due to logistical issues--nothing with the daycare). Both
times, the transition took forever. At the age of 2, there
were so many changes like taking away his bottle and potty
training him so it was expected. Teachers would sometimes
need to hold him so I could leave. But he was happy there
and I believe in my heart it was very good for him. At the
other preschool, he has just recently stopped the drama in
the morning--and that has been 7 months. But again, I know
that he is happy there and thriving.
If there are no red flags, some of it may be the drama they
go through at that age--there is no question that it is so
very hard---but not necessarily unusual. Not sure if that
Our 27 month old son has been going to a daycare on Tues &
thurs full days since the beginning of January. EVERY morning
he crys from the time we're getting him dressed to when the
teacher is physically pulling him out of our arms.
We put him school mainly to socialize & to give my MIL a break.
Also she tends to stay in the house so this is our way of
getting him to do activities during the day and not get stir
crazy. He is what i would call a bit of a grouchy child - crys
when we try to change his diaper, when we try to put him in the
shower - pretty much with transitions.
His teachers say that he's fine once we leave but i get the
feeling that even though he's fine, he's not happy and smiling.
He laughs and plays a lot at home (other than the grouchy
transition times) and i know they're not seeing that side of
him. At school he stays to himself mainly, and likes to stay
with the teachers. I can tell though that his attitude is
wearing on his main teacher, but i can't really blame her.
We'd like to put him in school more often and for half the day
so that he can get a routine going - one week we were able to
and by that friday it seemed a lot better - but the daycare
doesn't have room right now to take him every day all the time.
I guess i'm wondering if at this point we should pull him out
until he gets older or until they have room for him every day
half day? Is this normal behavior - I know kids take a while to
get used to school but it's been almost 3 months! There are
other 2 year olds there so i'm hesitant to think he's too
young - but maybe he's just not ready. Has anyone else had a
child like this and did they grow out of it? Or maybe any
advice on how to make the dropoff and his day a little better?
we've tried talking about school in the morning, not talking
about school, having the teacher visit, and the teachers even
made him a nice book with all their pictures in it so we can
look through it while we're at home.
Also want to point out that the teacher is going to move him to
the 3 year old class because that's where his speech level is
and they think he's socialize more there. Though i can't
imagine he's already ''bored'' at school at his age. I'm afraid
all this means he's going to grow up to be an intelligent, but
socially awkward child, which is fine with me as long as that's
what makes him happy. But i so don't want him to be unhappy
sad kid and mom
OK, first, it's crIEs. Sorry, pet peeve. Secondly, did you just
say you don't mind if he's intelligent and awkward socially, if
that's what he wants? Did you really just say that? ''Hey, mom,
I'm two, and want to grow up to be awkward!'' ?Uh, no. I think
your son is telling you quite point blank what he wants. You're
ignoring it based on what you think is socially normal. I think
you know that's true. So, now, the question is, are you going to
follow your maternal instinct, or keep denying it? just in case
he wants to grow up to be socially awkward, you'll have dutifully
provided him the opportunity? C'mon, now. The kid hates going.
Does he cry for the MIL? If not, give the poor child his
childhood. Our society's idea of ''socializing' is so backwards!!
It's a ''get used to it now, it's a cruel world'' philosophy. Very
sad, only on the earth for two years, and this is the message?
Think about it.
You are your son's mom, listen to your intuition. I am sure
that you are sensing it would be so much easier if he were happy
when dropped off at childcare and that things were going
smoothly for the teachers and your son at the facility. Life
would continue on without a hitch. However, you do sense that
your son is truly unhappy. You might want to consider that 2
full days might be a long time for him to be away from his
primary caregiver. It sounds like this care situation is to
offer relief to a MIL. Perhaps 2 half days would offer relief
and not be so stressful to your son?
Just thinking of your little one
Lots of kids do better when they are at school more days out of
the week because it becomes more routine. I know some preschools
that don't do 2-day schedules just for that reason. Maybe try 3
half days? One kid in my daughter's preschool cried every day
for 3 months, then one day he was totally fine, so hang in there.
My 2 yr old son has been in his day care for 5 months now. It
almost took 2 months for him to get used to it, but since then he
was happy and didn't want to go home at the end of the day. But
suddenly, it started about 2 weeks ago, he really hates to go to
the day care and cries like end of the world every morning. We
asked the teachers but they said he is okay during the day, but
when we pick him up, usually he wanted to stay longer, now he is
just running towards us and wants to go home. He also became very
clingy so asks to hold him all the time. He seems happy when he
is at home and eats well and physically healthy. We didn't really
like our current day care anyway, so we are actually in the
process of switching (he will start new day care starting next
month), but we are really worried that what makes him suddenly
hate his day care and turns him clingy. Is this normal behavior
in 2 yr old? or the feeling of transition again makes him
anxious? Any advice will be sincerely appreciated. Thanks!
We just went through the exact same thing about a month and a
half ago. Our daughter has been at the same daycare for more
a year, but all of a sudden, she was very upset and clingy. In
her case, I'm pretty sure it was a combination of separation
anxiety (which comes on strong around this age), a small change
in routine (the sister of our daycare provider came to visit),
and primarily, not feeling well (she was teething and also had a
sinus-like infection). Once the sinus infection cleared up,
everything went back to normal. Since her molars have come in,
she's also been much happier in general.
It was a little mysterious at the time, because she was SO
inconsolable with them yet when I kept her home with me she was
happy and playful. Anyway, I think it's not uncommon at this age
for developmental and hidden physical reasons, and if you have
the flexibility to give a little extra love/attention, it will
--drooling is a sure sign of teething
My son, who turned two in March, started attending preschool
twice a week on April 1. Prior to that, we visited the class
several times where I stayed with him for the entire morning so
that he could familiarize himself with the routine, the
teachers and the other kids. Since officially starting, he
didn't cry for the first two days when I left him, but cried
later in the day during playground time and wanted to come
inside. This is from a kid who is normally happy and outgoing
and LOVES playing outside. Since then, he cries when I leave
him at preschool - this morning off and on for at least 15
minutes (I was outside the door listening for as long as I
could before I had to go) and refuses to even go outside. The
teachers allow him to stay inside. My question is, is his
behavior a normal part of the adjustment process, or should I
be concerned that he's not ready or this is not the right
preschool for him? Granted, it has only been a few weeks since
he's started so I'm aware that I may just be jumping the gun in
being overly concerned. I've talked about preschool to him in
very positive terms and I make our goodbyes short and sweet - a
hug and kiss, and a ''mama will be back to pick you up right
after lunch''. His teachers haven't pointed out any red flags,
during playground time or otherwise, and have a ''let's wait and
see'' approach. Any advice about whether this adjustment is
within the normal spectrum, as well as what, if anything, I
could be doing differently to make this a more positive
experience, is appreciated!
Wants my kid to like preschool
Perhaps she's just too young for preschool. Not all kids are
ready then, can you take her out and try again in 6 months, 1
wait a little
I think your son's reaction is totally normal and he just needs more
time before he is completely comfortable there. My daughter, whose
pre-school we LOVED and she LOVED, cried hard and loud at drop-off
every day for 6 weeks when she started (at age 3). If you are
comfortable with the school and have no concerns about its ''fit''
with your child, I think he just needs some more time to adjust. Even
though 2 days a week is not much, it is almost harder than going every
day, a scenario in which he would probably adjust more quickly.
Is there a second pre-school you could take your son to? Then,
he can have the choice of which pre-school he prefers to attend.
If there is a problem at the current pre-school, employees might
not be the most reliable source of information about a problem,
since they obviously want to keep your business.
Our daughter also started in a preschool program when she had just
turned two, and the transition took a couple of months. Only you know
if this is the right time for your son, ultimately, and different
things work for different kids. I.e. perhaps this is just not the
right time for him? Or perhaps the place is not the right fit? Only
you will know this. Our experience was that our daughter, who had been
in a small in-home care environment 2 days/week for a year prior to
starting in this much larger environment, and is a super ''social''
kid, took about two months to really settle into this new place. She
would cry when we left, and a bit at nap time, for the first couple of
weeks. This time was really hard on us all, especially because we had
spent quite a bit of time there together when we were checking it out.
It's really different when you leave, though, and also often the
second week or two is harder as they know this is ''for real.'' We
wondered daily if this was the right choice, especially if she was too
young. I felt like I couldn't focus on work and like I was the one
going through the transition (as parents, we are). The most important
thing for me was feeling comfortable with the teachers there and
having a clear sense of how they were caring for her and what her day
was like. Is there a way you can meet with them or talk to them on the
phone when your son is not around so you can have an in-depth
conversation about it? You might feel reassured that how they are
responding to your son's sadness works for him and for you, or you
might get insight into something that you don't think is working. Can
you call the teachers during the day to hear how he's doing? We did
that a few times and it was just reassuring mostly. Our teachers
encouraged us to have her there 3-4 days/week. It can be harder for
kids to integrate into the place and the group dynamic if they are
there two days, and we had experienced that with her prior care
situation, where she never really integrated and always cried when we
left her at home day care. I see that with her current group with
kids who are there less frequently.
So we ended up having her at preschool more than we had planned (or
needed) during the transition so she could have consistency. Now we
are with her a day or two/week, as her relationships are more solid,
and she reintegrates fine. It could be that this is making it harder
We also came to pick up our daughter and saw many a time that she was
really engaged in what she was doing, and after a couple of weeks she
didn't want to leave, would stall to show us things and generally
started being much more comfortable there. She needed lots of close
time with us, wanted to be held a lot more than usual when around us,
and I made sure that every afternoon we had really good quality time
together, mostly at home doing calm, soothing things (water play,
reading, walks). We talked about preschool and often she would want to
draw it (try crayons in the bath, we told many a story about it by
drawing in the bath). At the same time, I felt that it was important
to shield her from our own anxiety during the transition, so also
didn't want to ''push'' the topic. It is a huge transition, no matter
when a child goes through it. Trust your instinct, but know that it
has been a bigger transition than this family ever anticipated, and
our daughter, a few months in, is thriving more than we could have
... but it will (likely) get better
I hope some experienced moms who've balanced research and a baby
will have some advice. My little one is now 4 1/2 months old and
I really need to get some writing time to finish my PhD
(humanities). My husband is also a grad student, so our time has
been very flexible, which is a blessing. We've traveled overseas
twice already with the baby, he's really alert for his age, and
has always been very ''robust'' in getting me and my husband
involved with him - so while perhaps not a ''high needs'' child,
he certainly likes one-on-one attention! He's been at daycare in
the mornings from 9-1 at a small center with a great infant room
(2 constant caregivers and a total of 6 little ones) for nearly 2
weeks now, but doesn't seem to be adapting. He is full of smiles
at home and will happily go to other people when I'm around, but
at the daycare, they say he often closes his eyes, won't look at
the teachers, screams. I've witnessed the sorry scene myself. I
often come at 10:15 am to breastfeed him and then he'll look
around and smile, but whenever I'm not there, he's often sobbing
and even refuses my milk in a bottle. (My husband often gives him
a bottle at home, so that can't be the issue.) One of the other
babies (9-months old) is having separation anxiety and cries a
lot also, so that adds to my child's stress. He's also caught a
cold since starting there. I like the center - clean, gentle
music, lovely people - but what can I do to help him to adapt?
The teachers, while experienced and patient thus far, also seem
to be getting frustrated. I end up being so worried about the
situation myself that I can't really use the worktime well -
plus, I've asked the staff to call me if he's crying inconsolably
so I can go there, and that happens quite often.
Does anyone have thoughts about how to help him?!! I'm so torn -
almost ready to give up writing for a while, but I want to finish
my degree. Would a nanny at home be better for him? For me
personally, it's not the solution I prefer since we have a small
2-room apartment and he sleeps in our bedroom, and I also like
the oversight and safety a center provides. However, since I am
distressed that daycare seems so hard for him, I have interviewed
a few nanny-candidates, and have some possibilities that I
thought I might try out this week in the afternoons after
daycare. I know that I'll lose my coveted spot at the center if I
take him out. Maybe some undergraduate students who could be
mommy's helpers while I work in another room at home? My worry
there is that since undergrads can't commit to too many hours a
week, I'd have to have a few different people and that could be
unsettling to him. Please help with any advice if you can!
Noah's mom/ PhD candidate
We went through the same thing with our son when I went back to
work and he was there most of the day. He would cry A LOT and
this went on for several weeks. Then it passed and he learned
that I would always come to pick him up and he became attached
to the providers. I had to stick it out and now the whole
ordeal is a traumatic memory for me and he has no recollection
of it. He is four now and still going to the same daycare/pre-
school and LOVES it. He sometimes gets upset when I come to
pick him up as he wants to stay and play more with his friends
So my advice is that if you are comfortable w/ the daycare and
feel that your child is getting held and comforted, then stick
My son was easily tired and overwhelmed at that age. Is your
child getting enough naptime? Remember, two hours of
consciousness is enough at that age. Otherwise, you may like to
get a nanny for the rest of the year to ensure adequate rest.
mom of a sensitive baby
Hi, I feel bad for the position you're in regarding your 4 month old not adapting to
daycare. My strong, albeit, personal opinion, is to bring your baby home with you and
get a nanny. And not a rotating cast of nannies, but a nanny that can absolutely be
there on a regular basis. There are ALWAYS listings for people available on this
Network. SOme babies your child's age seem to do fine, but your child is telling you
he's NOT ok and you'll just never get this time back. You wouldn't want to have any
regrets in the future. I know dragging your PhD out is not ideal, but can it wait 6
months? Until your baby has grown more secure and able to adapt? Good luck!
I had a very similar situation when my baby boy was 3.5 months
old. He was the happiest baby at home, but when I droped him off
at a nanny share arrangement he acted just like you described
your baby. He would scream inconsolably for a long time and not
drink much of his bottle. I almost quit my job. After two weeks
of not much improvement I changed my child care situation. He is
now at home with his grandfather while I work almost at a full
time capacity. He is back to his self, happy and easy. I think
the environment is a factor and the one on one attention of
major importance. Please consider a babysitter at home if you
can. Best of luck!
It doesn't seem to me like having a care provider in your home
would work at all. He wants you or dad, not just to be home.
Personally I wouldn't be able to work in that situation,
especially in something that requires uninterrupted
thought. :) My thought is that the 9-1 was just too long and
started too abruptly. How about cutting back the time and
gradually increasing it as he adjusts...like the first day,
just leave him 15 minutes. If he does ok, in a few days, try
25 minutes...and gradually build up as he bonds with the
caregivers and builds up trust. Keep paying the full fare if
you have to as he builds up; it would be a shame to have to
halt your degree now. I absolutely think it is
counterproductive to go mid-morning and nurse him. That is
just making him handle more transitions. So I would think
about cutting that out. If he never responds then take the
message that he really needs to be with you, and love the heck
out of him at home this first year. But you do have to listen
to what he is telling you, and it sounds like you are. Hope
this helps and hope it works out for you.
Dear Noah's Mom,
I am also a Ph.D. candidate who had a 4-month-old baby who took a while to get
used to daycare. He'd cry and cry, and I'd leave and cry... Luckily, I became very
good friends with another mother, whose daughter was 9 months at the time (like
Noah's classmate, in the midst of separation anxiety). Just when one of us was
ready to give up and pull her kid out, the other one would be feeling positively
about the daycare experience, and would convince the other that it was just a
matter of time and getting used to. So we teeter-tottered like this for the
adjustment period, and all worked out quite well in fairly short order. It was really a
blessing to have another parent to lean on and compare notes with at this point in
our lives. We're now great friends, and both kids adjusted very well to being in
daycare. I now have a second child who's had the same caregivers my son had, and
so I've had an ongoing relationship with them. They have gotten to know both of
my children very well, and we can laugh now at those early days when my son would
howl through the morning. It will pass, it will.
While this is a very hard moment in time, it is a moment. Noah will adjust in time.
This isn't to say that his adjustment will be quick and full (my son still cries
sometimes when he says goodbye to me as he goes to school--one that he likes
very much, by the way--and he's three now), but it will certainly be smoother. It's
only been two weeks, remember. Stay at drop-off and pick him up early for a while,
if that helps him. And you. Often, I've thought that there's something to be said for
not staying around too much, though I think this depends on the child and parent in
I think you're right about not giving up your coveted daycare spot. It will get
better, and you'll be able to take full advantage of dissertation-writing time, which
is really at a premium for a student parent. Student assistants in your home after
daycare sounds like a great idea. You'll be able to work, and your son can spend
time with a person he'll get to know, both at daycare and at home. I've found the
UC Daycare SA's, for example (I'm not sure whether you're in UC Daycare), to be
consistently warm, devoted, fun and highly capable people. You say you like the
caregivers at your center. Just bear in mind that, if you are a UC student, you do
have a choice of a few different sites (ITC, the new Haste St. Center--great-- Clark
Kerr) where they have infant rooms and toddler rooms. Check out the others if your
current situation doesn't seem right.
Been there, and it will pass
My 11-month-old daughter started daycare, 2 days per week, in a
family childcare home last week. I'm feeling conflicted about
her experience there, and am not sure if I'm freaking out
unnecessarily or if it's just not a good choice for her and for
us. Overall, I'm satisfied with the childcare providers (it's a
husband and wife team), but I'm just worried that my daughter
isn't happy there. Perhaps this was a mistake, but I went by
on my lunch break today and she just seemed clingy, and weepy,
and unhappy. Was it because I was there? Was it because this
is still so new to her? She's our only child (so far), and
until now, hasn't had a lot of exposure to other kids. She's
fascinated by other little kids, but I'm wondering if hanging
around 6 loud, rambunctious two- and three-year-olds all day is
just too much for her. At the end of a day of daycare, she
comes home kind of wired and keyed and wild-eyed. So, to get
to my point, how long do I give her before I take her out of
daycare and try to find some other solution? How long does it
take a typical baby to adjust? Is this normal? Today was her
the fourth day. (She goes all day on Thursdays and Fridays.)
First Time Mom Freaking Out
I can't speak to whether the day care situation is right for your
daughter, but I wanted to share that when my son started going to a
nanny share 2 days/week at age 14 months, he cried every single time I
left him there for almost a month - he was always fine by the time we
picked him up, but the leaving was hard. I know it's scary when you're
a first-time mom leaving your kid for the first time, but sometimes it
really does just take them that long to adjust, especially when they're
only going 1-2 days/week. I'd give it at least a month before making a
final decision. Also, ask the care providers how she is when you're not
there - in my experience, it's always been good/comforting news Hang in
For what it's worth -- I have a daughter in an at-home daycare, around
the same # of kids/ages as your daycare. My daughter (she's 10 months)
is there two days a week, about 8 hours. I too notice that she's
extremely tired at the end of the day. My son (he was about six months
when he started there) was exactly the same at that age... I remember
him coming home and being tired yet exhilarated. As he got older, it
seemed like he came home ''normal'' and the crankiness was a nonissue.
He came to absolutely love the place and the other kids. I guess
ideally, if possible you would shorten her day. Given a choice, that's
what I would do for her at this age. But I'm a big believer in daycare,
esp. the family type, because I've seen how much son has grown to love
it, and how it's fostered his independence.
He's having a much easier time adjusting to preschool than his friends
who are home all the time with their moms. Honest! I think daycare is
good for them, but if you can shorten her days I would do that. Later
on, as she ages, esp. when she's down to just one nap like all the other
kids, she will be able to handle all day. Oh, and my daugher cries when
I come to pick her up too, no matter what time -- she starts the second
I get there -- I attribute it to her stimulation level, not to her being
unhappy there -- because my son was that way, too daycare believer
I recently started my 18 month old at day care 2 days a week.
She too is clingy if sees us midday (we have to administer tylenol for
teething, they won't). She is also wildeyed, exhausted, and keyed-up at
day's end. She been going about 6 week snow and it's much better. a
midday visit is still hard and if an end-of-day diaper change is
warranted after i arrive, she throws a fit (normally changes are
non-events). So I say give has a bit more time to take in this brave
new world. He reactions sound ''normal'' from the mom of a 18 month old
now it's sleepy eyed!
Sounds to me like your baby is simply adjusting. Two days is usually the
minimum day care providers ask that you put a child in, so perhaps shes
should go on a third day if possible. Also, around 11 months is when
they experience separation anxiety.
I do think your showing up at lunch probably got her riled up as well.
I recommend you give it time and don't make a big deal about it or let
her know it upsets you. Usually, when our son did this, he would be fine
once we left. Change is hard for anyone, including babies so you need to
let her get used to her new providers.
Our son thrived in daycare. He started at 6 months, before separation
anxiety kicked in, but around a year, he started getting clingy with me
when I'd drop him off. Eventually, he got over it to where we'd drop him
off and would barely get a ''see ya.'' I think the socialization is good
for kids and will help them with the next step:
preschool. Our son just started preschool and he's going through some
emotional transition time as well. It's normal and they do get past it.
I think that it is pretty normal for any mom to be extremely cautious
and weary about sending their child for the first time away to daycare.
I certainly was!
My daughter went to a new daycare (3 days/week) when she was 14 months
old and after 6 weeks I took her out. She cried every day when I left
and when I came to pick her up, she wanted to leave immediately. I think
that she just didn't like it. I found another daycare that seemed much
more friendly and easy- going and I never had a problem - EVER! She may
have cried once or twice that first week, but soon my problem became
dragging her away from there.
My son started going to daycare when he was 11 months old and
unfortunately a lot of kids go through a clingy period around that age.
It's very normal and I was aware of it. I hated the timing of me putting
him in daycare, but I didn't have a choice. After 3 weeks the daycare
provider asked me to find another solution for him, because he cried a
lot, but was happy when she held him. She had other (small) children, so
she wasn't able to hold him constantly. I found a nanny and used her for
a year. That worked out great. When he was almost 2 yrs old, he really
started becoming interested in playing with other kids (or at least
around them) and I went back to that original daycare and he has been
going there now for the past year and absolutely loves it.
I think that you probably should give your daughter a chance to adjust
at this daycare, because it is a huge adjustment and she may also be
going through that clingy stage, like my son did.
It's normal and they get over it. I would give this daycare at least a
couple of weeks before I would look at other options.
And in the meantime you should really use your own judgement and the
fact that you know your child better than anyone else.
Your daughter can't explain to you what is going on, so you need to look
at her indicators and be sensitive. But like I said; give your daughter
a chance first, because it is hard to bounce her around from one daycare
to another. This one may be great, but you both need some time to adjust
first. Good luck!
I hate to say this, but 4 days is not enough time for anyone to adjust
to anything. Especially not for an 11-month-old to adjust to something
that happens only twice a week. There are several things to consider.
First, a caregiver I know and very much trust (she took marvelous,
wonderful care of my son for two years) would not take kids for less
than three days a week, saying that it simply was unfair to them and
didn't allow the daycare to become part of their normal routine. Of
course, this is only her opinion, and yours may be different.
Nevertheless, if there are 5 days in between times at the daycare, it is
going to be quite awhile before this becomes routine for your child.
Second, it can take 6 weeks or longer for things to feel normal, even
for older people (like myself!). It took my son, when he was 3, almost
2 months to become completely comfortable at a preschool where he
Third, kids often do come home quite tired (which can look more like
wired than sleepy) from a daycare situation. This, I'm afraid, is
Finally, are you completely comfortable, or do you have doubts? If you
do, your child may be feeling them. You need to fully believe that this
is the right thing for her, and convey this to her when you drop off,
visit, and pick up, in order to help her to adjust as quickly as
my son took 4 or 6 weeks to seem not miserable at his dyacare and longer
to seem happy. he went one day a week at that time. he's naturally
slow-to-warm-up. One thing I notice is that if I watch him at day care
before he sees me, he's fine but as soon as he sees me he gets all
emotional. this got less so with time but he still sometimes is
instantly clingy when he sees me and is always ready to go home. (my
daughter could stay and play forever). He's been there for almost a year
now and she just started!
I would say give it some time but if you do end up looking for a
different solution, try to fing one with at least one child the same age
as your baby. That might help. anon
My 2-1/2 year old daughter has been attending the same
Kindercare daycare center since she was 6-months old. Her slow-
to-warm personality resulted in her taking awhile at first to
adjust to the setting, but for the past 2 years or so, she has
seemed happy and well-adjusted at her school, despite some
teacher and student turn-overs. The problem is that starting
in the past week, she has resisted going to the school, citing
reasons of wanting to stay with mommmy/daddy. This results in
a difficult struggle and battle every morning. I have asked her
teachers about this behavior, and they report that they have
not noticed any changes and that she seems just as happy as
always when at school. This report is consistent with the fact
that she seems fine at pick-up and happily reports on her day's
activities. Could there be something going on with her
developmentally, at school, at home, that we're missing? Is
this just a phase that she'll, hopefully, outgrow soon? What's
the best way to handle this in the meantime?
It's a phase, and your daughter will outgrow it. It is indeed
developmental, and she may well go through a couple more phases like it
(my son did one at daycare, and one at preschool, and he's outgrown both
of them after a couple of months). As long as she's fine during school,
when you pick her up, and in the evening, I wouldn't worry. It helps if
you can believe, and project to your daughter, that you are doing the
right thing. Be sympathetic and firm, tell her ''I know it's hard for
mommy to leave in the morning, but I will come to pick you up (after nap
or whenever), like I always do.'' And absolutely don't change your
routine in response to her upset, or the behavior will last longer. Of
course, she'd rather stay with you and daddy than anything else in the
world -- but that isn't possible now, and it won't be when she's in
Talking about it at times when she's calm can help. I found that saying
things like ''Wouldn't it be nice if we could just go to the park
together, every day?'' really seemed to help my son express how he felt.
He still uses that expression to express wishes that he knows can't come
With some kids (my son was one) books like ''The Kissing Hand'' help
My 2 1/2 year old son recently started attending a small-ish day
care - about 12 kids ages 2-4. He is there from 8 to about 5,
four days a week. His prior care was a nanny who looked after
him along with his 10 mn old brother. She is a great nanny for
infants, but he definitely started to need something more. The
first week of day care went great, but after that, its been
downhill. The drop offs kill me. He claims he doesnt want to
go to ''school'' starting the moment he wakes up and realizes that
is what he is doing that day. He clings to me when I drop him
off, and 50% of the time he cries when I leave. The teacher
says he is fine a minute or so after I leave, (and always leaves
me a message at work about how things went after I left) he
sleeps well there, and his dad says he always looks very happy
and is playing with the other kids when he picks him up. To a
certain extent, I expected a rough transition period; he is not
a mellow kid. But its been about 5 weeks since he started and
the drop offs are not getting better. How long should I give it
before I can't chalk it up to a ''transition period''?
your situation describes mine exactly. my 2 1/2 year old daughter has been
attending her new (and first) daycare since june, and yesterday was the first
day in which she didn't cry when i dropped her off. it's taken four months! in
the past few weeks when i pick her up, we talk about the drop-off from that
morning. she tells me, ''i cried a little bit this morning, mama.'' i would then
encourage her to try not to cry at all when i leave and to remind her that i will
pick her up in the afternoon. on the day that she didn't cry for the first time, i
told her daycare provider that my daughter was trying very hard not to cry this
morning, right in front of my daughter, so that she could hear us supporting
her. for my daughter, i've just had to accept that it's taken a long time for her
to adjust. the daycare providers reassure me that she's happy very soon after i
leave and that this behavior is common for kids who have been home for the
first two years of their lives.
two other things that have helped: her father and i remind her the night before
that she is going to ''school'' the next day, and we pick out her outfit before she
goes to bed. also, at the daycare, we have a good-bye routine where one of the
''teachers'' carries her so that she can blow kisses to me through the window. i
think most importantly, we've just had to give it time, and i've had to show that
i was proud of her for the little progress she made each time. hang in there; it
will get better!
We started our 15 months old at a daycare last week, for 3 hours a day. It's
a group with 4 caregivers and 13 toddlers (of which at any given moment about
5-10 are present). It's been a mixed experience, and much more emotional on
all sides than I had expected (even though I had received enough warnings...).
I keep hearing that the process of starting daycare is harder on the parents
than on the children, and that it's all good for them in the long run. I
would like to hear more about that. Obviously, we neither want to restrict
her to a nest forever, nor would we like her to feel deserted.
Our daughter is very keen on getting out of the appartment in the morning to
go to the daycare, and there are periods where she enjoys the other kids, the
toys, the lunch etc. But there is a lot of crying, too. She bonded with one
of the caregivers, and is often fine in her arms (where she cannot be 3 hours
on a stretch). She usually runs into the building on her own, but once in the
foyer of the daycare she prefers to walk around (older kids classrooms,
bathroom etc.) rather than going into her classroom. This could be her desire
to explore or her understanding that once in her classroom we will leave
To prepare her, we walked by the building with her and read picture books
about daycare, talked about it a lot and spent time there with her. Then, we
left her there increasing amount of time. We keep the bye ritual rather short
and we tell her that we will come back.
We usually get along with our daughter very well, and there is hardly any
crying in our lives, even so she already has a very strong will. Is daycare
now a moment where we have to go through a period of crying, contrary to our
usual practice? Is it really unavoidable, or is it much easier for them to
separate at an older age or in differnt conditions? Will the child learn how
to deal with separation, or is he/she just toughening up and learning that
he/she is not supposed to show or even feel his/her sadness anymore? And,
what are the signs to look for in the child to understand how he/she takes it?
I would love to hear any kind of experience of other parents, positive and
negative ones, and any advice on how to help the kids adjusting and the
parents to interpret and tolerate some amount of crying. How long did it take
for your child to adjust? Or if your child didn't, I would also like to hear
I found some advice in the archives, but it was mostly about 2+ year olds,
which is already a quite different phase from the early toddlerhood (in
particular because of the language development). Julia
Your message about day care really hit home for me. My daughter
is younger than yours (10 months) but we started in half-day
care with Berkeley's infact toddler center about two months
ago. It was a hard experience because she had just moved into a
separation anxiety stage. Ideally I would have waited, but in
this program, you start when school starts and the time is
pretty inflexible. In any case, my daughter had a lot of ups
and downs in the first 4 to 5 weeks. Some days she would be
fairly happy all day, but others she would cry when we left and
spend most of the day unhappy. She, too, would be fine in one
of her teacher's arms, but as you noted they have three kids per
teacher and she simply couldn't spend three or four hours in her
arms. I was so traumatized by the experience -- my daughter
also very rarely cries -- that I was seconds away from taking
her out of day care, when all of a sudden she was fine. And we
haven't had a bad day since. When we arrive at day care she
starts waving excitedly, she loves her teachers, and she loves
playing with the older kids. She still cries when we leave, but
before I'm even out of the door she has stopped. She plays,
eats and naps regularly, and my sense is that she is really
When I was really struggling, the teachers suggested that it
often takes kids 6 weeks to adjust. First, I had a hard time
beliveing it would happen, and also six weeks is a really long
time when you feel the anguish that I know you are
experiencing. But, I'm really happy that I waited it out b/c I
think this is the best experience I could have hoped for.
One thing that made it possible for me to wait it out was that
my daughter seemed the same outside of the experience. In other
words, she might have a hard time in the few hours at day care,
but once with us she was happy, smiling, eating and sleeping
regularly. It made me feel like it wasn't so stressful on her
that it was getting into all other aspects of her life.
I hope that things get better for all of you and good luck! I
know that it is not easy!
Perhaps a good test on how your child is doing is to find out
how she is 15 minutes and half an hour after you leave. Some
kids do cry more than others at drop of time. Some kids do
better with a long transition time at drop off, and some are
much happier (although it may be harder on the parents) with a
brief drop off transition. Then of course, it can varry day to
day! Our kids generally did well if we brought them in to the
room where they were to be (and didn't let them wander all
over), got them engaged with a book or toy or person so that we
weren't the focus, and then left. A big meaningful good bye was
actually harder on them. As our kids got older, they could do
the symbolic ''push us out the gate'' and feel like they had
control over the situation. I know that each kid is different.
One child we know who was in day care (like our kids) since
infancy, none the less cried on and off for the first week of
preschool, even 'though she knew the preschool environs quite
well! Best of luck. If you child seems happy, I'd say stick
with it. You'll get through it, too.
We've used some daycare since our kids were babies, as we have no
little family around. I've seen our kids thrive on it, getting to play with
other children and be loved by other adults. I remember feeling so
guilty and worried at first, and now, as I look back (my kids are 3 and 5) I
see a great deal of enrichment from the experiences. I think the main
important aspect is that they are being loved and taken care of well.
With that ingrediant, I see the childcare providers as an extended family.
That's my opinion. Good luck.
I am surprized to hear that you have come across information
stating daycare for a child of 15 months is ''good for them in
the long run'' All of the information and research I have come
across (and in my own experience as a childcare provider) has
stated just the opposite. It can be very traumatic for a young
toddler. I know your child is only part-time but children in
full time daycare from an early age tend to develope behavoral
problems more readily than children who are not. A teacher
friend of mine said that she can identify, on the first day of
school, which children are in full-time daycare and those who
If you must put your child into the care of another person
before preschool age maybe hire a loving nany or babysitter who
is willing to take your child to things like Gymboree, park
playgrounds, & toddler/parent music classes so that she will
have the benifit of interacting with other tots, but only have
to relate with one adult caring for her. and she will have
downtime at home. Some babies handle daycare better than
others. There is nothing wrong with her crying. It is her way
of venting her unease. It would seem appropriate to pay head to
your childs distress.
I want to caution against comments like ''children in
full time daycare from an early age tend to develope behavoral
problems more readily than children who are not'' A)I am not
sure the jury is out on this topic, and I feel uncomfortable
suggesting such a correlation; and B) there are many reasons
that children go into childcare early, and some of those
reasons may have the result that it is better for the child
than staying at home. A perfect nanny would be ideal for some,
but for others, factors such as costs, legalities (paying cash
vs. taxes) oversight of the nanny, etc. may make daycare a
In the previous newsletter, one person referred to her
experience and alluded to research she had read that
suggested that it's traumatic for kids to be in
daycare at a young age, and that their behavior later
is noticeably the worse for it later. I'll pipe in here
to say that my observations show the opposite in many cases, and
I'll allude to research I've read that supports the impact of
group experience on positive behavior development.
I know stay-at-home kids that behave well and behave badly, and
I know daycare-early kids that behave well and behave badly. I
don't think it's black and white, although the poster would have
you believe it is. What is the quality of the daycare? What is
the personality of the child? What is the consistency of the
parenting? And, for goodness' sake, can we stop guilt-tripping
women who must or who wish to work? If there are studies, cite
them. We all know that we can find studies with findings to
support our opinions. How reputable was the study? Was there
an agenda behind the research? People need to be able to judge
these things. Otherwise, notice that you're expressing a
judgmental opinion and ask yourself if it's appropriate to
present it as something that's carved in stone.
a mom with a daycare child whose behavior is wonderful
Er, I don't know about the story that early daycare causes
behavioral problems. Are you sure about that? Certainly has
not been my experience. My oldest started fulltime daycare at
6 months and cried, cried, cried every single morning when
I dropped him off till he was about 2 and a half. He was just
that kind of kid. (He also had terrible colic for the first
4 months.) After 5-10 minutes he was fine, but those first
few minutes were hell! Now he is 21 and I guarantee you, you'd
NEVER guess this self-assured, confident, happy young man had
such a hard time in daycare. Never had any behavior problems,
at least not so far! His younger brother is the one who gave me
headaches about behavior, and that one was home with mom till
he went to preschool. Thinking about 21 years' worth of watching
their friends grow up, there's no way early daycare is a predictor
of bad behavior later, or any other kind of behavior for that
matter. Of all their friends, the kid that proved most troublesome
later on had a stay-at-home mom (who in my BIASED opinion did
not have very good parenting skills! Perhaps daycare would
have had a beneficial effect! Who knows?) I think if you talk
to parents of older kids, most of them will tell you that
daycare vs. no daycare just does not have much to do with
later behavior. They would not be able to tell you which kids
had daycare and which didn't, just going on their behavior.
There are plenty of other things to feel guilty about as you
muddle your way though parenting so don't worry about this one!
I didn't see this mentioned in the other responses: My daughter
started daycare at 16 months and she is now 3.5 and in
preschool. She cries only when I drop her off (and then for
only about 2 minutes). If dad, a friend, or another relative
drops her off she is fine. It also depends on which teacher is
there to greet her, with some she cries and with others not. It
is not due to unease, but due to from whom she can get sympathy
and attention (which I completely understand and sympathsize
with). Another factor is whether she has gotten a good night's
sleep and eaten breakfast.
Sorry to beat a dead horse, but I wanted to weigh in. My 16
month old son has been in what I consider to be a top-flight
daycare program since he was 3 months old. He is cared for by
people who have studied early childhood development and who are
committed to making every day one of discovery and adventure
for him. He also gets plenty of affection and fresh air, and
is surrounded by peers from whom he can learn. Occasionally,
there are days when saying goodbye in the morning is difficult
for him, but they are the rare exception, and I imagine the
same could happen with a nanny hand-off as well.
Another pro-daycare parent
Thanks & our experience
Two months after posting this question I want to thank
everybody who answered. In the meantime, we witnessed the process of our
daughter adjusting to daycare. I would like to share this experience with you
and future parents reading the archives.
The first week was very difficult;
the first day we left her there alone I got literally sick. After a few days
she built an attachment with one of the teachers. After a few days she built
an attachment with one of the teachers. In her arms she was fine, but whenever
this particular teacher could not hold her for a little moment, she was in
tears. While many people told me they would cry only as long as the parents
are in sight, she did not stop that quickly. It was heartbreaking. We were
full of doubts and constantly on the edge of giving up, even though all the
teachers and the director of the daycare kept reinsuring us that everything
goes just normal.
Two signs kept us on the path:
1. She behaved perfectly normal the rest of the time - no extra
clinginess, no regression in any respect, no aggression,
she actually seemed pretty happy.
2. She still wanted to go into the building every morning.
For another two weeks things were rather difficult. It did improve by
little steps, though. Every day one little thing would get better. One
day they said she liked the music, another day she liked the outdoor
One day she said ''hi!'' to everyone, another day it was ''bye''. Eventually
her social behavior became more and more what we were used to from watching
her around other children. At the same time, the way to daycare and even out
of the house became a little more difficult - she anticipated what we were up
to. One morning, she made clear she didn't want to go anywhere near the
daycare, and, since she also had a cold, we decided to give in. We were
worried that this would turn against us, that she would have learned she could
change our plans permanently. Instead, the next day was easier than ever
After about three weeks the crying stopped. She still didn't seem to
feel quite at home, but certainly comfortable, and she already had much more
fun than sorrow. Still, after only three hours she was exhausted. She would
sometimes fall asleep during lunch in a highchair, and for sure in the sling
during the short way home. She would not eat her lunch at daycare, even though
is usually is a very good eater. During these first three weeks we both
observed her behaviour very attentively, and among us we hardly talked about
anything but her dealing with daycare. It seemed like three months, and every
day was different.
Now, after 2 months, things are entirely free of stress,
she is less tired after we pick her up after lunch, and we consider increasing
the hours. She didn't change fundamentally in any respect, but she learned a
few things and she became again a little more social (she already was on the
very social side within her age group). She now likes to direct actions when
she is with us, such as getting us to form a circle holding hands and dance to
music. Or sit in a row and read each of us his own book. She loves painting
with watercolors, and asks to do that a dozen times at home every day.
in my original posting, that I didn't belief in letting young children cry as
a useful, unavoidable or necessary part of learning processes (with the
exception of short expressions of frustration). In the case of daycare, we
did get where we wanted in a process that included periods of crying longer
than we are used to, but I still disapprove of the crying part (while I am
confident that the amount she had to do did not do serious damage). I see
that as a serious drawback of starting with whatever caregiver following a
schedule dictated by anyone else but the child.
The optimal process would
happen on a child-driven time scale, like it could happen in a village setting
with neighbors living in the child's view and walking distance, with older
befriended children accompanying the child's gradual process of becoming
independent while the parents are working at home, yard or nearby field. The
very least we could do is to allow her as much as predictability and control
over the situation as possible. Daily routines help, because after some time
*she* becomes the one initiating them, for example: bye-bye kisses and hugs,
packing the bag, putting on her hat. Allowing her to choose from a limited
number of options helps her to feel respected, for example: what she wears
(the shoes seem to be the most important), how she gets to the daycare
(walking, slinging, stroller, babyseat on the bike - we went through all the
In daycare too, they established a routine what do to with her after
bye-bye. First in arms, later in the chair (they let her choose which one)
with a snack. A hint I got a little too late is that, prior to staying some
time at the daycare *with* the child, that one should spend some time there
*alone*. The idea being that most parents are slightly tense when visiting -
and unavoidably still checking out - the daycare, and that the child feels
that tension and adapts this attitude. Especially preverbal children are very
sensitive to any emotions (unconciously) communicated to them by their
Two other practical things. During the one or two weeks before we
started daycare we often read a picture book about daycare together (''My
First Day at School'' by Ruth Wickings and Erin B. Gathrid). We tried to teach
her the meaning of ''Bye bye. I will come back'' by using that sentence at
home and then leave the room and and stay out of her view for a short time. I
also wanted to discuss the related topic - daycare versus nanny - the answers
to my question branched off, but this has to wait for another week. Thanks
again for your help and for your interest in the topic,
My 17 month old child has had 5 half days at a family daycare.
She's having a very hard time adjusting: crying alot, wanting to
be held and carried. A few weeks prior to beginning, she
developed separation anxiety but cheers up a few minutes after i
leave her (with husband or grandparent).
Not so at the daycare. We had a meeting where the providers
suggested we institute various plans at home to help my child be
more independent (less carrying, use words or pointing instead
of crying, going to sleep alone,etc). In general, my toddler
has enjoyed being carried, but also explores alone quite
confidently and is generally intense.
I know it's a hard adjustment, but i feel uneasy about changing
my parenting style significantly in order for my child to fit in
to the group. I have heard that group care can be really great
for kids to start early on; how can i decide if this is the
right time to push her to adjust, without inflicting too much
I have not been in your shoes, but I would first of all trust your
instincts. I would not change my parenting style because the provider
suggests you do and particularly not while the child is already making
the big adjustment to daycare. Perhaps the transition needs to be more
gradual. Perhaps there are comfort objects the child could bring with
them for the day. Perhaps it is not the right setting for your
child. You have probably considered all those possiblities. I
definitely give my support for holding an 18th month a lot. We held my
daughter a lot at her request. If they want to get down they let you
know. Best of luck to you in navigating this transition.
My son at 18 months transitioned to a family daycare with 5 other
children, after being in a situation with one other baby cared for
at their home by the mom. He had a hard time adjusting to the
one-other-baby situation, and after a year still occasionally
cried when I left him in the morning. With the larger daycare,
he was SO unhappy, and cried all the way over in the car every
morning. He was always a very sensitive and clingy baby. Though
I knew he was fine, it really broke my heart to leave him there,
but I didn't have any choice and it was the best situation I could
afford. The crying continued for 4 months, every day. Finally I
was able to figure out how to have a relative take care of him in
our home, and he was a happy baby again. This was a terrible ordeal
at the time, and I anguished a lot over it. But I did learn from it.
I learned that he was just THAT kind of baby, not really suited to
a daycare situation, and there was very little I could do about that
other than to change the day care. My second child had no such issues.
So don't beat yourself up about changing your parenting style - it
probably will not change your child! My poor sensitive baby survived
daycare, preschool, grammar school, and is in college now and has
many friends and no problems at all that I can see in adjusting to
new situations. So it only lasted for the first few years! I still
feel guilty every time I think about it, but he doesn't even remember
ever being in daycare. So if you do stick with your current situation,
don't anguish over it too much. If she is safe and the daycare person
is kind, she will come out OK. But I do think that YOU would be happier
with a daycare person who is a little more sympathetic!
Please trust your instincts and find a day care situation that
is a better fit for your child. as soon as possible. From what
you say, your provider is expecting behavior from your child
that is not appropriate for her age.
For what it's worth:
1. Is there any way to start with less days and increase to 4 or
5 days if that is what you really need/want?
2. I think I'd also feel strongly against being asked to change
my parenting style to suit a daycare. I guess I'd wonder why
they don't want to hold your daughter for awhile longer- unless
they have other kids that need holding too. Then, maybe this
isn't the place for you.
3. What about a nanny share situation with an older child? Then
your child would have more individual attention and being held
wouldn't be such a big deal. Our daughter went to preschool 2
mornings starting at age 2. Up until then she had a nanny all to
herself for about 20 hours a week while I worked. She cried for
about 10-15 minutes the 1st day (and they held her) and a little
less the following days and then seemed to really get attached
to her teachers. That helped the transition and it really seemed
good for her but all kids are different!!
You're the parent here, you hired them, and they should not be
telling you how to parent your child so as to make things easier
for them -- quite the contrary; their job is to make things
easier for *you*. As for refusing to hold and carry a toddler
and making him or her go to sleep alone, it's *highly* unlikely
to result in a more independent child -- quite the contrary.
(Don't you cling more tightly to something that's always in
danger of being taken away?) I suspect you need a different
daycare arrangement, not a different parenting style. Hire a
nanny or find a family daycare provider who is responsive to you
and your child, not one who tries to make you and your child fit
their convenient mold. It's normal to have a bit of a rough
adjustment period, but if the transition doesn't go smoothly,
the daycare should be searching for ways *they* can change to
help the child, not telling you how *you* should change.
From my experience (I have a 17-month old who just joined family
daycare for two hours per day after being cared for by her uncle
and granny), I would change her daycare. If she's not happy,
she may need more attention that she can't get where she is
now. My daughter is happy and smiling when I pick her up from
daycare. She cried a little when she was dropped off the first
few days, but now she's comfortable and happy. There are
generally no more than two other children at her daycare. The
woman who takes care of her reminds me of my grandmother and I
felt close to her instantly. If you and your baby don't feel
completly comfortable in a few days, I say find another
situation. It is not unreasonable to remove her, and there are
plenty of listings in the Childcare Digest to try. You can find
a good nanny share or family daycare situation that isn't costly
where your baby will thrive.
I sympathize! I was so unsure what to do when my now 16 month
old son was taking an inordinately long time (several months) to
adjust to his daycare. We finally hit upon the idea of my
staying with him and helping the caretakers with the other
children for the first several days of the week and leaving him
the last two days. That did the trick. Within two weeks, he
was fine. I don't have to stay anymore, now just he waves as I
leave (''don't let the door hit you on the way out''). He is
learning so much, so fast, and is so clearly having a ball, that
it makes me very glad I persevered.
Although I'm sure that the caretakers at your daycare have good
intentions, I wouldn't have wanted to change my (loosely)
attachment-parenting style, especially at a time he was already
It was hard for the people taking care of my son, but they were
supportive. They just told me that it was hard for my son, and
they held him more and gave him more attention. They didn't
suggest that I should hold him less or sleep alone, etc. Perhaps
they were more patient because we are in a daycare co-op with
only 2.5 children per adult - (5 kids at a time, the same nanny
5 days a week working with a different parent each day).
If it doesn't work out with your current daycare, and you have
the time, you may want to consider setting up a co-op or joining
one through Bananas or here or the Neighborhood Parents
Network. Good luck!
I felt compelled to respond to your question. You don't say
whether you need to have your child in care so that you can
work (or have a little sanity time, or whatever). If you do
need her to be there, you can skip my response, but I
thought that your question dealt with ''whether'' childcare, not
The only thing I want to say is, from the perspective of a
mother of a 4 year old, and a 5 year old who just started
kindergarten: if you can keep her home and you want to
keep her home, I bet you won't be sorry if you do. I felt
pressure with my first to ''get him socialized'' and provide
him with some experiences with his peers, away from me,
etc. In retrospect, I don't think it mattered at all for his
development whether I had urged him toward
independence or not. I now think that such a youngster will
be no worse off for being closely dependent on his/her
mother for a few years. As my eighty-year-old aunt told me
years ago: they're completely yours for such a short time --
soon you'll have to share them with the world, and you'll
never get to have this time back.
Once again, if I mis-read your question and you're really
asking if this particular child care situation is the right one
for you ... sorry! and nevermind!
Tearful Arrival at Daycare
I am posting this at the request of a desparing relative. A relative
recently re-entered the job market and had to put their son in childcare 4
hrs/day. The mother is very upset because the boy cries every day that he
doesn't want to go, the people aren't nice, kids bother him, etc.
Nevertheless, once there he usually brightens up and runs off to get
involved with the other children, though sometimes I'm told he will stand
there with tears running down his face till the mother leaves. We've
(family) all seen the boy and he doesn't have any visible signs of abuse,
nor does he speak of improper things being done (other than some kid hit
him or . . .). But the family is pained to see their son go through this
daily. So, what experience(s) or advise can you provide for me to pass on?
I've seen how children act/look like when their parents are dropping them
off (anything from crying to glee at seeing other children) but I don't
know what the parent(s) may have gone through prior to arriving at the
My outgoing daughter just turned two years old and this is her third
week in a full-time child care center ever. She has not had much
separation anxiety since she was born. I prepared for some crying
before she started daycare. However, the first two days in her new
day care, she did not even notice my leaving her in the morning and
when I went to pick her up in the afternoon, she did not want to
leave. Things started to change from the third day on. She started
to show some unhappiness for my leaving her there and was thrilled to
see me in the afternoon. The unwillingness to go to day care progressed
to whining or crying in the morning before we walk to the car. The
situation improved somewhat lately resulting probably from my continuous
"coaching/persuading/coercing". Therefore, I was able to forestall any
crying and "sneak out" in the morning. According to the teachers, she is
doing well after I leave. After I pick her up, however, she continues
to be in a bad mood for an hour to two (making dinner time
difficult), which is very different from her usual self.
I wonder whether her unwillingness/bad mood after day care has
anything to do with the quality of the day care or the way she is treated.
I have not been able to observe her during the day because I am afraid she
will start to cry if she sees me there and does not want me to leave. From
the short-time observation during drop-off and pick-up and my interaction
with the teachers, the daycare seems to be a good one.
All kids cry when their parent's leave, but quickly adjust and get on with
having fun. I hear this all the time and then when the parents come to
pick up at the end of the day, they can't get their child to leave. A good
childcare will reassure the parents that the child is fine. I know it's
difficult, though, to leave your crying child.
My technique, learned from a friend in Philly, was to tell the child at the
appropriate time (whether that's right away, after a book, after 2 minutes of
duplo, etc.) to "push mommy out the door." In psycho-speak, "this empowers
the child to make the break himself/herself." In mommy-speak, the kids have
so much fun doing this, you leave them with a giggle. Both my kids did this,
and it took about 3 days to get it painlessly as part of our ritual. Note -
when my son did it, he barely touched me, but I would leap out the door. My
daughter would push me hard enough that I didn't have to fake it. So much for
the aggressive boy/passive girl stereotype!
Hi, as a former toddler class and 4-yr-old class teacher,
(and as the parent of a toddler)
I can say that it's *totally* normal for kids to cry like
the world is going to end, until the parent finally leaves
(and a little bit afterwards, like 5-10 minutes, maybe 20
for a persistent one). It often helps to have a quick and
participatory good-bye session ("Mommy is leaving now. Will
you wave to me from the window there? Can you blow me a kiss
from the window?")
Sometimes, it's just that the kid doesn't like transitions.
Other times, the kid picks up on the parent feeling insecure,
and feels like "if mommy is nervous about this, maybe it's
something that I should be nervous about too."
There are two things I'd look for.
First, what is the kid like at the *end* of the school day?
If they're reasonably happy (or if they don't want to leave school),
they're fine. If they're falling apart, I'd look further into what's
going on. If they consistently, and *spontaneously* say they hate school
at the *end* of the day (or after arriving home), there could be a problem.
If they are doing that, you might ask the teacher if there have been
any particular incidents of other kids treating yours badly.
Or if there is a hidden observation gallery where you can watch the
classroom without the kids being able to see you, you can observe your kid.
(It doesn't count though if the parent keeps asking with a concerned look,
"How was school today? Do you still hate school?" Kids are better
at responding to the underlying worry than to the literal question.)
Second, if the kid has started to be self-destructive in
other contexts right around when they started school, that would
also be something to worry about. It may have to do with school,
or it may have to do with other family issues.
Good luck. Starting school/daycare is a big transition for
child and parent alike.
In Sept. we put our 2 year 9 month old in childcare 3 mornings a week at
Duck's Nest in Berkeley. Well.....he cried every morning for 5 weeks...."Mama,
don't leave me," "Please take me home," "I need you," and a host of other
heart wrenching one liners. I found myself standing outside of the gate wiping
away my own tears while other experience parents assured me he was o.k. A few
things kept us convinced that it was the right move.....Several parents told
me that the minute I left the crying stopped; the staff always held and
comforted him until the tears subsided; the teacher suggested we go to 4 days
instead of 3 so that he would be there more days than he was at home...for
transition purposes and most importantly each day when I picked him up he was
fine. Needless to say it is now Feb. and each day he asked, "Mama, is it a
school day....can we go". My suggestion to the parents is to give it more time
and ask for the help of the staff and other parents. We LOVE DUCK'S NEST for
their patience and warmth. Good Luck..Diana
I just started my almost 6 mo old son in a small family day care. He
started last week. Mon and Tues were "transition" days where I stayed
for a while and left him for a few hours. Both days he seemed to do pretty
well. The rest of the week, he was there full time. There are 2 toddlers
and one other infant at the day care. The provider has 2 school age sons
who return to school next week. I am sure that the environment is very new
and highly stimulating to our son. Still, after some initial trouble, he
seems to take his usual naps and eats very well for the provider. While he
is too young for the separation anxiety issues (like crying when left)
discussed on your web page: http://parents.berkeley.edu/advice/childcare/
starting.html he is having trouble adjusting. He has been quite fussy. He
is not longer content to sit and play with toys or roll around on the floor,
seeing what he can get into. Instead, he will cry and fuss after a few
minutes. When the day care provider picks him up and cuddles him, he stops.
I think this results in the provider having to hold him quite often during
the day. Previously, he would squirm after being held a while, wanting to be
off to better things. How long will it take for him to start feeling
comfortable in his new environment? I want him to feel secure enough to be
confident and outgoing. Maybe he just isn't bonding well with the provider.
I should mention that the other children at the day care are part-timers or
a few days a week. I am wondering if the provider feels she has bitten off
more than she can chew. This is extremely difficult for me - how could
_anyone_ not love my precious baby to pieces?!?! I am starting to consider
other arrangements, including part time afternoon day care, where I would
stay home with my son in the morning, drop him off at the day care for the
afternoon, and have my husband pick him up after he is done with work.
I would then work afternoons and evenings. Has anyone had any
experience with this arrangement? How did it affect your relationship with
your significant other? While I would prefer regular working hours, the
happiness of my son is most important to me.
You wrote that your son is eating well and napping well at the day
care, and enjoys being held by the provider. Sounds good! It sounds as if
he *is* bonding with her, if he likes her to hold him--I would worry about
bonding if he *didn't* like to be held by her. I would predict that after
some more transition time--on the order of several weeks--he will get back
to his exploratory ways. If not, then at that point it may be time to start
worrying. BTW, my daughter was very well aware of when she was being
cared for by someone other than me when she was that age, so while some
might not call it "official separation anxiety," I would very much imagine
that your son is reacting in some way to your new absence and/or his new
surrounding. If you're worried that your provider is over-committed, of
course asking her might be the best way to find out. But she may need some
time too to get into a rhythm with your son, particularly as her kids are
getting ready to get back to school, i.e. a transition time for her family
too. I would propose that if you feel that your son is being well cared for,
and is not "freaking out" about your absence, let it ride for a few weeks,
see how it goes once the provider's kids are back at achool, and take stock
again then. Anyway, that's my $.02.
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