When your little one's not happy to be picked up after daycare, truly, nobody is happy. Here are some tips -- for both caregivers and parents -- to make the end-of-day transition a little easier for your child (and for you).
I am a nanny of a two-and-a-half year old, and I have been caring for him since the age of four weeks. Just in the last few weeks, we have been having trouble with transition. He does not want to stay at my house and he fights going home. What I mean by fighting is he actually will tell his mom, "I don't want you. I want you to go back to work."
We have explained to him that I am his babysitter and he comes to my house when Mom is at work. When Mom is done, she will pick him up. It is very heartbreaking for his mom. We have always given him ample warning that Mom is coming. About 40 minutes prior to her coming we have quiet time so that it is easier to leave a quiet activity versus an active one. Do you have any suggestions/ideas as to why he is doing this?
The childcare expert answers
While having a nanny as caring and concerned as you might be every working mother's dream, having your two-year-old child tell you he doesn't want you is every working mother's nightmare.
Bear in mind that many children go through separation issues at different points in their childhoods. It's entirely possible that this little boy is simply struggling with transition in general, separation issues or that he just doesn't like being uprooted twice a day.
However, I'd want to know more about what else has been going on in this little boy's life.
Some questions to consider:
Young children are often very sensitive to change and emotional tension. His behavior may be a reflection of something troubling him, and his "fighting" you might be his only way of telling you that he's uncomfortable with whatever it is. If you discover that he doesn't understand why Mommy is angry all the time, or why you let him eat on the sofa while Daddy is much stricter, talk with him.
Help him to know that Mommy's and Daddy's troubles are theirs alone, he is not at fault for anything, and that you and his parents all want what's best for him. If your childrearing techniques are at odds with his parents', his resistance to these transitions may reflect confusion about whose rules are the "real" rules. Make sure he truly believes that everyone still loves him very much and will always take good care of him.
Generally speaking, children who have trouble with transitions can be helped. Many get over it on their own, especially when their adults treat them respectfully and lovingly, and let it run its course. Your idea of keeping the activities simple and calm before he goes home is good. You might want to try to develop a predictable routine. Maybe you can go for a walk shortly before he's going to be going home, so that he is already in his going-home clothes. Maybe he can help you pack up the diaper bag. Perhaps he'd like to listen to music or read the same book every day while waiting for Mommy to pick him up.
Maintain as much predictability as you can, keep activities enjoyable, low key and repetitious, and pay attention to what's happening in his life.
If you build in a few more soothing end-of-the-day routines and yet he continues to fight you or his mother during those transitions for more than a few weeks, you might want to seek some professional help. You all deserve to be able to have your comings and goings be less stressful.
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