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We took a 5 week long hiatus from daycare / kindergarten, and after returning out son absolutely doesn't want to go there. Before we left he loved going there, there was never any crying and he was very happy. After we returned he starts refusing to put on his shoes at home even, which he never done before. He looks sad when we pick him up and he has random crying episodes at the kindergarten.

He did take some time to start to like the kindergarten, but at one point it clicked and he started loving it.

I realise, that it was a bad idea to go on vacation for so long, but now I am unsure how to handle the situation?

Would it be best to start picking him up at lunch, basically at half time and maybe bringing him a bit later until he gets used to going again?

How do I find out if we should change kindergarten? Or would a change make it worse?

What else can I do?

Right now, I don't think we are doing anything good by sending him there.

He is 2.5yo now.

  • Did the child go with you on vacation? – anongoodnurse Nov 23 '19 at 1:42
  • Yes, we went on vacation for 4 weeks and when we came back he was sick for one. – user1721135 Nov 23 '19 at 1:52
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My wife works in early childhood education, and from what I can gather this type of thing is par for the course as the child re-acclimatizes to their new surroundings.

Actually, she works in her center's baby room and we now have a running joke where we predict when new kids are going to start crying after realizing they're stuck in the daycare.

Put more concisely, crying isn't a problem in this context, it's exactly what you'd expect from a child who is too young to understand where they are and that they're safe. And in your situation the problem is likely doubly so because not only are they in a new place, but they're also coming from a place that was newish.

In my opinion what your child needs is consistency for a while, so just continue taking him to daycare as normal until he gets used to it again. Problem solved.

Beyond that, if the problem persists for too long be mindful of other potential reasons he could be disinclined to go, besides it being new.

  • I understand, but the daycare is not new, its the same one as before. Or did you mean, that because of the gap it's new to him again in a way? Should I start the same protocol as we did at the beginning? Staying with him at first during the day, and slowly leaving him alone, first for an hour, then for two etc.? Also what does ECE mean? – user1721135 Nov 23 '19 at 1:35
  • Yes it's likely that your child's forgotten about the daycare and is getting used to it again, so you could feasibly go through the same protocol. ECE stands for early childhood education. – Canadian Coder Nov 23 '19 at 1:44
  • @CanadianCoder: Abbreviations should generally be explained here, as answers should be understandable without a specific background. I took the liberty of editing. – sleske Dec 2 '19 at 9:32
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First of all, I think saying you were wrong to take that long a vacation is a really sad conclusion to land at. That to me would be the parenting equivalent of saying it isn't worth finding love because heartbreak is too painful. It's inconceivable to me that you clould harm your child by spending too much time with them, being too close or too loving. What you're going through now may be painful for you both, but it is testament to the fact that spending time with you is still best, and I would be more concerned if the opposite was the case.

Having said that, I think you can help your child by droping them off in a playful manner. This example is going to be overly specific, but just to give you an idea:

In the hallway, say "Ok, bye, I'm leaving for work", and then you playfully walk out the wrong door, into the toilet or something. Or say "OK, you go off to work now, and I'll stay here and play all day long until you come and pick me up, bye bye". I wouldn't be surprised if your child will laughingly show you the door.

Fool around for a bit, and when you switch to actually leaving, you can in a light-hearted manner say "bye", and then "oh no, I'm not ready to go yet, I need more kisses," and then you play-leave for a few rounds before actually leaving.

Your objective here is three-fold:

  • To validate your child's separation anxiety. Show that it is OK to feel sad that you'll be away from another, and that you feel that too.
  • Importantly, model a playful rather than tearful outlet for that feeling.
  • Lastly, by doing this you help the child transition into play. It shouldn't be a harsh disconnect from the comfort of being with you. Here's there to play, and it's understandable if he can't make that switch on command. This way you'll get him started on playing, and daycare may not seem as threatening.

Of course if you can pick him up earlier I think that can't hurt either, but once he gets stated playing, I'm not sure it'll be needed.

Don't stop taking long vacations.

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