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My three-year-old cries when he goes to daycare, but now he cries when we go anywhere, to church or wal-mart. I know he is dealing with separation anxiety because he spent his first three years at home with us. Now it's time for him to go to daycare (I am a college student and will have to be in class at 8). How can we get him to stop crying when we leave the house? It's like he doesn't want to leave the house period.


Update: the daycare my 3 year old was going to couldn't find a spot for his age so tried a different daycare and he was able to get with no problem and he loves it. He cried when we dropped him off and picked him up but would do fine all day. Also his little sister also goes to that daycare and she loves it also.

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What I did when my son had a phase like that were 2 things

  • Only leave them when they said it was Ok. Make a ritual how you say goodbye at the daycare. For example he could say how many hugs he wanted (and yes that meant 20 hugs at some days). Then after that when he says goodbye he is more 'in control' of you leaving.
    It also meant sometimes I would bring him to school half an hour earlier so he could play outside a bit. And then bring him inside right when the door opened. And then he could show me what he was going to play with etc. And after half an hour like that it usually was ok for me to leave since I didn't 'just drop him off and walk away'. Don't actually play with him too much though. You'll say longer if he wants to, but you don't have time for play.
  • Make sure there are enough fun things to do when leaving the home. If you are in a rush to go to wal-mart then it's a problem when he doesn't want to leave. If you say you can get some ice cream after we buy some new one at wal-mart it becomes much more fun to go. (Get the ice cream first and let him hold it while you get the rest of the groceries). That way he learns that going outside sometimes means fun things. Make sure to point that out to him to make him aware. See this time we went outside and did something fun. Then (in time) he learns that going outside isn't the thing he has to fight against.
  • I won't be able to stay with him till has ok because i am also a college student and will have to be in class at 8 – Momma Conley Jan 4 '18 at 12:44
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    I understand the problem. I had to be at work early as well. However taking your time (even if it is just before they even open) helps your kid to feel less rushed. That way he had a chance to talk to you/get your full attention for some time. This way he doesn't have the "mommy is just leaving me" feeling but more the "i'm bored with mommey and now i'm going to play" feeling – Batavia Jan 4 '18 at 20:47
  • @MommaConley This answer definitely works wonders. It sucks to wake up earlier, but the comfort of your kid on the daycare is important, too. – T. Sar Jan 5 '18 at 10:38
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A few things you could try that have not been mentioned ...

In terms of helping your child settle into daycare here are some things that worked for children I have taught. From your comment I got the impression that settling into daycare was one of the things that seems to have caused the dislike about leaving the house - Friendships are a great tool for children to transition smoothly into a new setting. This can take some time but you could see how you can encourage friendships with other children at the daycare ( play dates at home or the park etc). - similarly encourage him to build a relationship with at least one teacher ( or more than one depending on your child and the daycare setting) at his daycare centre so he has a go-to person when he arrives. If there is a rotating roster of teachers in the mornings perhaps this may be hard but I’m sure the teachers could offer some accomodating help in this area.

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