How to Reduce Anxiety at Daycare Drop off

The first day of child care can be anxiety filled for both parent and child however establishing routines and rituals in the days leading up to that first day can ease the anxiety. 

Identify the routine that your family will be using once child care begins. Create a predictable routine for your child on the days they will be attending day care. Don’t forget to include a car ride routine such as getting to read a favorite book or holding a favorite toy on the ride to the day care.  Also, if your child is old enough, ask if your child care center can provide a laminated picture of the building to hold and look at on the ride. 

Visit the day care for short period of time prior to the first day.  Ask the day care director if there is a few times in the weeks leading up to the first day if you and your child can go and explore their new classroom and center.

If your child has not been away from mom or dad for more than a couple hours at a time, try to schedule longer activities away from your child (such as having grandma and grandpa take them for the day).  For a child that is not away from their parents very frequently, anxiety can increase during those first few day care drop off because they are not used to the routine of mom or dad leaving them in someones care. 

Once the day has arrived to drop off for the first time, keep your cool!  Your child may sense your own anxiety of the upcoming transition.  Establish your own calming routine to the morning prior to drop off. 

Be prepare for your child to cry a little at drop off those first few days.  Be strong!  It’s your motherly or fatherly instinct to pick up your child as soon as you hear their cry.  Each center may have their own rules for drop off so check with them for the procedures they’d like to use.  If they do not, it’s OK to kneel next to your child and comfort them, however be sure you are using positive nurturing language that reassures your child that they are ok, will be taken care of and will have a fun day.