Posted in Behavior, Child Care, Toddlers

Going to daycare meltdowns?


My two year old manages his tantrums fairly well, but recently he’s been struggling to accept he has to go to daycare. He’s been going since 7 months so it’s nothing new and he used to enjoy leaving in the morning. But he was sick a few weeks ago and got to stay home with me, and since then he’s been difficult with his morning routine. I should also mention we have a 3 month old who is stays home so that could be a factor as well. Any tips or suggestions how to support him through these meltdowns?

  • Kate
    Apr 17

    I’m in a similar situation with our 23 month old who goes to preschool for half days; we also have a 2.5 month old. Our toddler started “school” in February, so she’s still pretty new at it. Some days, drop-offs are fine. Other days, she starts crying at home, in the car or right outside the classroom door. What’s worked for me is a combo of things: 1) I’ve tried to slow down when getting her ready for the day. Rather than pushing things to the last minute, a slower pace let’s me have a little more fun with her (sing songs while putting on shoes, etc), relaxes me more, and allows me to help patiently with the meltdowns. 2) I’ve tried to build more time for her in her morning routine when possible. We’ll usually read a book, either before getting dressed/washed up for the day or after breakfast... or both. And I’ve started to have her watch/“help” me make her lunch, so she can participate. 3) I’ve worked with her on ways to calm down, particularly using calming breaths when she’s upset. (We have a couple books that have helped with this.) Today, she started crying outside the door, so I took a sec to get on her level, hold her and take some deep breaths with her while talking her through it. She asked for more, so we did that a few more times. Instead of just dropping her off quickly and trying to wave a cheerful goodbye when she’s crying, I’ve started to give her the time she needs and work with her breathing. You mentioned your son manages his tantrums pretty well - if he’s found something that works for him, I’d just keep reinforcing that and helping him through those moments. And if you can find those moments when you can give him a bit more time and attention, then it may just make goodbyes a little easier. It has to get better sometime... right? 😉

  • Anonymous
    Apr 20

    Aw. I wish I could offer advice but we will be in a similar situation. My daughter will be 2.5 when we have our second and have considered putting her in daycare at least part time, but I imagine it will be difficult specially when the new baby gets to stay home; but my daughter who literally never ever cried or through tantrums seems to be on a roll lately. Anything that doesn’t go her way sets her off. Could it be a phase?

  • Anonymous
    Apr 20


  • Rick
    Apr 26

    We went through that phase. It broke my heart, but it passed.

  • Sara
    Apr 30

    We’ve gone through the phase a couple (few?) times already - 4-year old has been in day care/preschool since an infant and I was surprised at the young age when I heard the first “I don’t want to go to school!” Kate’s suggestions are good. I also just use a “ho hum” attitude and say, “well, it’s a school day for you, and a work day (or work at home day) for me and daddy. Our grownup work would be boring for you and it’s way more fun to play with your friends. We’ll see you at the end of the school day.” I don’t argue with his feelings about it, and make sure to not put any of my own emotion about it in my response - no apologies, no guilt or sadness. I don’t open it up to much discussion, but I just acknowledge it can be hard to be away sometimes. They really latch on to any sense of guilt! Lately it helps if I spend an extra 5 min at drop off time doing something active on the playground with him- soccer or tossing a ball. Redirects the emotion and helps the transition, then he’s like “bye mom!”