10 Ways to Drop Off Your Preschooler on Good Footing

(and Leave with Peace of Mind)

By Deborah Song


As a  mom of two preschoolers with separation anxiety, I was first inspired to write an article titled “How to Execute a Tear-Free Drop Off.”  Then realized the goal shouldn’t be about how your child reacts to saying goodbye to you, which he may have very little control over, but about how to leave him on solid footing in a peaceful state of mind.  A few shed tears doesn’t necessarily reflect how he feels about school or determine the course of the rest of the day.  All kids react differently to separating from their parents and caretakers.  But by making sure he’s had enough sleep, eaten a balanced meal and enjoyed a calm morning, these factors will very much affect the rest of his day and experience at school.  It will also teach him good life habits. Here are 10 ways you can help your child have a good day at school.

1. Make sure your child is well rested.  If your child is tired, he’ll likely be crankier and have a hard time concentrating in class. Sleep is important to a child’s mood and physical development.  Sticking to a consistent bedtime routine will help.

2. Feed him a well-balanced breakfast.  How many of us can focus when we’re hungry? A balanced, nutritious meal is an important ingredient to having a good day. 

3. Create a calm morning.  Mornings are crazy, I know. You’re trying to get your child ready, yourself ready, pack his lunch, rush out the door, all without forgetting anything and in one piece. The goal is to make your mornings as less crazy as possible.  If you’re frazzled, your child will feel it too.  Try to prepare what you can the night before and leave a few minutes in the morning to engage your child. 

4. Arrive early.  Getting to school 10 to 15 minutes before class starts will allow you to say a proper goodbye and eliminate the stress of being late, which your child will feel. Arriving early will also help your child settle in.

5. Get your child in the mindset of school.  Talk to your child about what he will do at school today or ask him questions about what he did yesterday en route to class.  Getting him excited about school will give him something to look forward to.

6. Bring an attachment object.  Some children, especially younger ones, find a doll or blanket very comforting.

7. Say goodbye.  It’s tempting to want to sneak away.  But never leave without saying goodbye, which can be startling for a child if mommy or daddy suddenly disappears.  It’s important to say goodbye and reassure him you’ll be back, even if the initial goodbye makes him cry.

8. Be consistent.  Once you form a morning drop-off ritual, stick to it.  Kids thrive better when they know what to expect. 

9. Involve the teacher. Your child will be more willing to depart from you if there is a caring teacher to receive him and engage him in conversation.  This will divert his attention to something other than mommy or daddy leaving.  Also communicate regularly with his teacher and keep a pulse on how he’s doing at school, which will help you parent better.

10. Arrange play dates with classmates.  Forming bonds with classmates will help a child feel more at home in the classroom.  Disclaimer: You may have a hard time convincing him to go home.

    Posted on Oct 09, 2014

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