How do I get my child to stop crying at school drop off?
This was the question I asked myself day in and day out for the entire first half of this year.
It was the weirdest thing. Aidan started school in the last term of 2017 and he settled in so well in the toddler class and it actually seemed a breeze. But when school re-opened this year everything just seemed un-familiar to him. New children, new teachers, some of his friends moving to the “big class” – and Aidan just didn’t take very well to those changes.
He would start crying the moment we pulled up at school or he’d start breaking down once I walked him to his class and was about to leave. But the funny thing was that he was having a perfectly fun time once I made my exit, but beginning the day this way was really breaking my heart into a million pieces.
And bless Alyssa. She was so understanding and wouldn’t cause me any extra stress and would try to comfort Aidan by saying he has absolutely nothing to fear… “Big sis is near”.
But I was actually dealing with a particularly stubborn case of separation anxiety and it didn’t seem to be getting any better
So we tried a few things which slowly but surely got Aidan to confidently walk into class each morning – and touch wood – he hasn’t cried 1 morning during the last school term:). Fingers crossed we continue this way in the next term.
Here are a few things that helped him overcome his fear and stop crying at school drop off:
Remarks such as, “You’d better not cry this time” really did not help the cause – in fact, it probably increased his stress levels. However, I found that when I tried to be more empathetic to his feelings, he would settle in a lot quicker. For example, if I said “I know this is really hard for you, Aidy. What can we do to make this easier?”
I remember saying to Aidan ‘If you don’t cry now, I’ll have a surprise for you this afternoon,” and although it may have helped him hold back the tears, I could see he was still anxious and it created an expectation. It would be the first thing he asked for when Dad fetched him and it just created drama when we weren’t able to stop at the shop or whatever was promised.
Worst mistake ever!
Some mornings Aidan wouldn’t cry and seemed to be engaging with his buddies or a teacher , it was really tempting to just tiptoe out of there. But his teacher encouraged me not to. But at the same time, I wouldn’t linger for too long.
I’d rather say a quick goodbye and then leave.
Change things up and stick to a schedule
Probably the thing that helped most – is to keep the drop-off and pickup times consistent. And the big change here was that Kurt started dropping off the kids, instead of me. Well, you see. Kurt doesn’t need to wash and dry his hair, apply make-up and sort the kids out in the morning. So we realised that the most simple routine for the kids would entail Dad taking them to school.
And it worked. Aidan found comfort in arriving at the same part of the routine each morning – early, before his friends arrived – and it really helped build his trust with his teachers.
End on a good note
A bit of positive reinforcement really went a long way. When we picked Aidan up, we acknowledged the morning’s situation and made him feel really good about how he handled it.
For example, “You were a bit nervous, but you dealt with it so well Aidan, and you had a good day!”
I am in no way a parenting expert. I’m merely just sharing our story and what worked for our little guy. If you’re in a similar situation with your tot, just hang in there. It will all work out, at one point or another.
I would love to hear any other tips if you’ve been through similar.