Daycare Dilemma: When Your Child Cries

February 12th, 2013 posted by Elizabeth Pantley

by Elizabeth Pantley

Does your child cry when you try to exit the daycare center and head to work? Leaving your child in the hands of another person is stressful enough, but to receive the guilt trip from your little darling doubles the pain. Read our expert’s tips on how to ease the transition and make for a smoother morning all around.

Think about it:

As frustrating as this is, when you stop to think of the real reason your child is crying, it may give you a different perspective and a bit more patience. Your little one is crying because she loves you so very much that she can’t bear to be parted from you. That kind of love isn’t easy to come by.

// Don’t rush in the morning. Wake your child early enough so that she can adjust to the day before being whisked off into the car. Give your child something from home to keep in his pocket, such as a picture of the family, a lovey toy or a t-shirt that smells like Mommy.

Schedule five minutes to settle your child at the daycare center.

Ask, “Is there something you’d like to show me before I leave in five minutes?” Show interest in something and try to get your child started in an activity. This brief amount of time can help your child make the adjustment to daycare. (Avoid letting the time extend to longer and longer amounts. Your good bye should be short and sweet.)

Have a special good bye routine.

This routine can include a silly sequence of a certain number of hugs and kisses, or a funny way to say good bye. Make your routine quick and simple and immediately leave afterwards with a wave and a smile. If you look distressed at leaving, your child will absorb those emotions. Act as though she’s going to have a great day. Communicate this message through your words, body language and actions.

Let your child know exactly when you’ll return in relationship to his day.

For instance, “I’ll be back right after your snack time.” Let your child know what you’ll be doing while you’re gone and make it sound boring. “I’m going to the office where I’ll sit at my desk and talk on the phone.”

Most children stop crying within five minutes of your departure.

Ask your daycare provider if this is true for your child. If you feel uncomfortable leaving a crying child, call the center when you get to work, or arrive at home, so they can reassure you that your child has finished crying and is playing. You can talk to other parents who drop their children off later and ask them to let you know how your child seems to be doing. It may also help if you drop in announced once or twice to peek in on your child yourself. If you’ve tried all these solutions, and given them thirty days to work, and your child still cries for extended periods of time (more than fifteen minutes or periodically throughout the entire day), maybe it’s time to make a change. Perhaps your child is not emotionally ready to leave you for such a long period of time. If so, see if you can shorten the daycare stay, or keep your child at home for a few months and try again. Take a look at the environment at the day care. Perhaps there are too many other children, or some other reason your child is uncomfortable. If so, look into changing to a center, or to a smaller home daycare, that better suits your child’s personality.

Read more articles by Elizbeth Pantley on

(This article is a copyrighted excerpt from Perfect Parenting by Elizabeth Pantley. McGraw-Hill)

Elizabeth Pantley (57 Posts)

Elizabeth Pantley is also the president of Better Beginnings, Inc. She is a popular speaker on family issues. Elizabeth’s newsletter, Parent Tips is seen in schools nationwide. She appears as a regular radio show guest and has been quoted in Parents, Parenting, Redbook, Good Housekeeping, American Baby, Twins, Working Mother, and Woman’s Day magazines. You can visit her website at

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