My son is 26 months old, and goes to an in-home daycare with 5-6 other children.

He does very well there, and gets along with the other kids without serious problems (there are the conflicts over sharing that seem inevitable at that age, but all-in-all things are going well).

He seems to look forward to going, and dropping him off in the morning is almost never an issue.

Picking him up in the afternoon, however, has started to result in some friction.

It is becoming increasingly common for my son to be completely wound up when I get there.

It used to be that I was greeted by him shouting "daddy!" and running to me when he saw me come in the door. Now it is more likely that he will should "daddy!", and then start dancing in the middle of the floor (which triggers several other of the boys to join in), or should "chase me!" and then run away.

When I go to physically pick him up, he sometimes throws himself onto the sofa, crying that he doesn't want to go, and instead wants to stay and play with his friends.

What is the best way to deal with this, and get him out of the door in a reasonable amount of time, with a minimum amount of tears?


3 Answers 3


Offer him a "routine" to give him a sense of control and time to transition. A repeatable routine would give him a chance to smoothly "wrap up" what he is doing mentally and help him switch contexts.

Try something along the lines of, "Hi (term of endearment and name) I'm here, you have about 10 minutes to get ready to go. Can you show me what you are playing?" Play with him for about five minutes and then say, "I'm going to talk to your teacher and gather your things. We have about five minutes until we leave." Talk to his teacher a little, gather his stuff . . . You get the idea. It's important to be consistent and accurate with the time estimates so that he can learn to transition-- no bargaining.

When you tell him it is time to go, you might try something like, "Would you like to hug (teachers name) or blow her a kiss today?" In doing this you establish that it is time to go, but you are also giving him an opportunity to choose how he goes about leaving - something else two's are subconsciously establishing is how much control they have over their own world. Then you can make a game out of getting to the car. How many giant steps does it take? How many baby steps?

A change isn't likely overnight, but you never know with kids. Just keep it up and the change will come. After taking this tact for a few nights, you can "notice" as you do get in the car later, that if he would stop crying and fussing about your arrival, he may find that he gets a little more time to play while you are gathering things and talking to his teacher. Or, you could try, "I really wished you had been willing to show me what you were playing. I had five minutes to play with you there and wanted to, what a bummer."

The first time it does work, when you get to the car, notice that he went with you without a bunch of fussing and crying about it. "I notice leaving day care today seemed easier for everyone. What nice choices you made."

It's wonderful that he loves his day care! Good Luck. :-)

  • 1
    Yeah, we're definitely happy that he likes it there, and we're lucky that we like it, too!
    – user420
    Dec 4, 2012 at 18:40
  • Love the routine idea! You can probably create a meaningful routine within a span of two or three minutes, instead of ten, btw. Something I've found super helpful with my "leaving" process is singing this song "Time to Go", as my kid loves music. youtube.com/watch?v=t7A5950wJoI
    – Jerenda
    Nov 8, 2018 at 19:17

Ok, so this might be a stupid answer, but I had a similar situation occur with me when I was maybe 3 or 4. My mom arrived to pick me up from daycare, and I didn't want to go. I insisted that I wanted to stay and play more with my friends. So my mom said, "Ok, I'll be back to pick you up a little later, then."

At first, I was all cool with this. Then I suddenly realized that my mom was gone and I wasn't ok with her leaving. I wanted to go with her.

It might not work for you. There's a chance that you'll leave and he won't want to go with you. Or it might be that you don't have that kind of time. But, if you can, you might want to try it just to see what happens.

  • Interesting suggestion. I don't think this will work for me (I get there at about the end of the "pickup time", so there's only so long I can delay actually taking him home), but it might work for other people with similar issues. Thanks!
    – user420
    Dec 4, 2012 at 18:41
  • 1
    In my experience, this can be a dangerous game. Essentially, by saying that you're leaving, you are bluffing. Some kids will call your bluff and refuse to chase after you. If that happens, you are caught out, and the child may start to get suspicious of anything you say.
    – Urbycoz
    Dec 5, 2012 at 11:56
  • 2
    No, my mom was literally walking out the door. She was completely prepared to leave me. I'm not suggesting he bluff--that's stupid. Merely suggesting that if his son truly thinks he wants to stay longer than he be allowed to stay a little longer if possible. Once he realizes that Daddy is leaving he might change his mind--or he might not.
    – Meg Coates
    Dec 5, 2012 at 23:05
  • I dislike this answer for a few reasons. 1) Threatening to leave your children is something I personally find wrong and strive to avoid. Your mom wasn't threatening or bluffing, she was genuinely offering you extra time, but this is a rare ocurrance and doesn't line up with my reality most of the time. I legit need to leave when I say I do. 2) Even if all goes well, the parent still has to come back in an hour to pick up the kid, and the problem is still present of the kid not wanting to leave.
    – Jerenda
    Nov 8, 2018 at 19:15

Here is what I would try.

Considering the root of the problem is that he enjoys being with his friends, discuss this with the other parents and arrange that from time to time (e.g. twice a week) one or two other children (who are his best friends there) will come with you as well to your home for hour or so.

It can be different friend every time; It doesn't have to be frequent.

This way on days when you don't bring a friend you can tell him "today you will be with me and mommy, tomorrow [friend name here] will join us".

One hour "extra" sounds reasonable to me and though it might be taken as "over spoiling" I think the benefit is greater than the spoiling.

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