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Drop Off Blues: Tips to Help Your Child Transition into a Preschool Setting

Preschool drop off can be one of the most challenging times of the day. It’s hard enough leaving your toddler each day to go to work without the screaming and crying. Here are some tips for easing the drop off blues:

1. Spend 5 minutes giving your child your undivided attention each morning.

Before you leave the house each day try spending 5 minutes giving your child your undivided attention. This time should be all about your little one. Try to follow their lead and play with whatever interests them without asking too many questions or asking them to follow directions. This time spent together will go a long way in helping your child to feel connected to you, even when you are away.

2. Routine is everything – Do the same thing every day!

Partner with your child’s teacher to develop a morning drop off routine. It can be helpful to do and say the same things every day when you leave. For example, your child carries their lunch box into the building every day, they put it in their cubby and then you give them a hug and say goodbye. Then, the teacher accompanies the child to the window to wave goodbye to mom or dad. This will help your child to know what to expect each day, relieving some of the anxiety of drop off time.

3. Use a transition item.

Using a comforting transition item during drop off can be a helpful tool. For example, when it is time for you to leave, your child’s teacher can hand them the same highly preferred stuffed animal or toy each day to hold onto until they have acclimated to the room and you have left.

4. Let them know when you will be back.

When dropping your toddler off at school let them know what time you will be coming back. For example, “I’ll be back after nap time” or “Grandma will be picking you up after you play outside this afternoon.” At pick up, repeat what you stated in the morning, “I’m so happy to see you, I told you I would be back after nap time!”

5. Acknowledge feelings

While we know that our children will more than likely feel better before we even make it back to the car, the stress they feel at drop off time is real. The teacher can validate their feelings by saying “You’re feeling sad, I know you will miss your mommy while she is at work. She will be back after nap. Let’s read a book.” This helps the child to know that you understand and respect the way they are feeling.

- Melissa Diamond

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