My 3.5 year old daughter has a hard time at school drop off and becomes so nervous every day before school

I loved this podcast so much @Drkarenweiss @tots-allison @tots-mary!!!

I have a follow up question for you guys or other moms/dads who have children who are anxious.

My daughter has a really difficult time going to preschool every day. I feel horrible for her because every morning she wakes up happy, but then when it’s time to get dressed she starts crying that she wants to stay home with me instead and it just breaks my heart.

At drop off, the teacher has to (lovingly) pull her off my legs.

I’m looking for any advice that could help her! Thank you!!!

Transitions can be so hard for young children. I have a couple of questions for you. How old is your daughter and does her teacher tell you how long it takes her to calm down after you leave? I remember that when I used to drop my daughter off at the babysitters house she would often cry. But soon after, I would receive a picture and a text from her babysitter showing me that she was happy and laughing. For me, that was super comforting to see.

@phoebeMC This is such a good question, and I’m sure many parents can relate! @tots-mary‘s questions are good ones. Assuming that it’s not taking her long to adjust once you’re gone, it might be a bit of separation anxiety, which is really common in kids her age. She’s still learning that you will come back when you say you will, and that she can feel secure in her connection to you even when you’re apart. You might try to talk to her about these worries, and to assure her that she can love school and love being with you at the same time. A really good kids book to help her internalize this idea is called The Invisible String. She might also benefit from lots of preparation so that she knows how her day is going to go (even if you think this is obvious!): “We’re going to have breakfast and get dressed, and then I’m going to take you to school. We’re going to give two kisses goodbye and one last squeeze, and then I’m going to leave and you’re going to play with your friends. I’ll be thinking about you all day long and watching the clock so I know when it’s time to pick you up. And when you’re done having a great time with your friends, I’ll be there in the parking lot to pick you up.” I hope this helps!


@tots-mary my daughter is 3 and her teacher is wonderful and she tells me it takes her about 10 minutes (maximum) to calm down, but she’ll ask about me randomly throughout the day-but not crying, just asking.

@Drkarenweiss I really like the way you phrased all of the explanations so she’ll understand what’s happening and help her get a better sense of time so she knows when I’ll be coming back. I think you’re right that I sometimes assume she understands, but it must seem scary when she isn’t completely prepared for what’s happening. Thank you!

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Glad that’s helpful!
It might help to keep her teacher in the loop about how you’re talking to her about it at home. When your daughter asks her teacher about you, her teacher can remind her that you love her and are thinking about her, and that you will see her at the end of the school day. If she needs more reassurance, you can give her a small picture of the two of you that she can keep in her backpack or cubby to give her a dose of you during the day.

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