Most of us have been there: you’re dropping your children off at preschool or grandma’s and they just immediately burst into tears. While it can be incredibly distressing for both parties when this happens, there are some ways to combat kids crying when mom or dad leaves for an extended period of time. Can’t take another tearful goodbye? Look through some other parents’ tips and tricks to see if any of them will work for your family!
Give plenty of notice.
“My kids have been pretty good about us leaving since we both work, but I always make a point to give them plenty of notice when we are going to leave them with a sitter. At bedtime, I’ll say, ‘Tomorrow, daddy and I will be going to dinner with some friends and Jenn is going to come to play with you and put you to bed.’ I’ll mention it a few times the day of, too. Also, I try to keep our babysitters consistent to the same one or two so they know them and get excited to see them!” – Kate Schweitzer
Get them excited about an activity they’ll do that day.
“I make sure to call out the fun things I know he’ll be doing at school (or with his grandparents or babysitter) and I’m always really up front about where we’ll be and how long we’ll be gone. If through all of that he’s feeling sad, I let him know that it’s okay to be sad and that I’m going to miss him too, but I’m excited to see him when I get home. Occasionally, if we’re going to be gone for a while or if it’s been an extrarough day, I’ll grab a new sticker book or some sort of fun activity out of the closet so that he has something to look forward to while we’re out.” – Laura Meyers
Distraction can be key.
“We overcommunicate ahead of time so that our daughter knows what to expect. She is totally adjusted to preschool drop off, so our biggest issue is when we have babysitters/grandparents while we go out. As much as we prepare her, sometimes we just have to turn on a favorite TV show or movie to distract her when we actually walk out the door.” – Stacy Hersher
Make it quick.
“It’s a quick hug and kiss and a see you later, I love you. No lingering around because that just makes it worse. As they see you come back for them, they start understanding mom or dad isn’t leaving forever!” – Kathi Rodriguez
Start traditions with your babysitter.
“I’ve also found it helpful for the boys to have ‘traditions’ with their babysitter: things that they only do with her. For example, they have a years-long running Chutes and Ladders tournament where they keep score each time she comes and play with them. That way they know what to expect and get excited about doing that activity.” – Krista Moatz
A little bribery can go a long way.
“We let our daughter watch her favorite cartoons, and promise to bring back a present (that can be a rock from the street, as long as we call it a present, she is pretty excited). Bribery is completely worth it if it avoids the drama. No judgment!” – Vilté Rooney
Have the kids start an activity with the sitter right before you leave.
“When the little boy I nannied and I were still getting used to each other, we used to start an activity before his parents left. That way he was at least halfway into it before they left. If he had a wad of Play-Doh in his hands, it was easier to direct him back to that as soon as his parents were gone if he was feeling a little upset.” – Alessia Santoro
Start a leaving countdown.
“Before leaving, we count down. I tell them we’ll be leaving in an hour; 30 minutes; 15 minutes, etc. . . As for anxiety on being left at a place like preschool, I stay for the first little bit, then I tell my son I will be leaving in five minutes and will be back when your school is over for the day. When five minutes is up, I leave.” – Sandy Rogers