You’ve chosen your child care center (ours, we hope!) and now you’re ready to leave your child.  Maybe at first everything goes well, but then… the dreaded separation anxiety sets in.  Your child cries, clings, and you feel like the worst parent in the world walking out the door as your precious baby (yes, even your 5-year-old is your baby!) cries and screams.

First, a few things you should know:

·    It is a rare child that doesn’t go through some kind of separation anxiety at some point. 

·     Your child stops crying before you are done getting down the block.  Really.  Believe me.

·    It’s not necessarily a bad sign if your child screams when you leave.  It’s a part of growing up and understanding consequences.

·    It will get better.

Tips for dealing with it:

First, look at your own attitude

Parents don’t like to hear this tip, but it’s critically important.  If you are nervous, wondering if there is something terribly wrong, or dreading saying goodbye, you telegraph that to your child.  And they act accordingly.  Become at peace with why you are leaving your child (earning a great living to provide them a good life is an excellent reason, needing some child-free time is equally valid).  Then, be sure you trust you are leaving your child in the best possible hands (speak to other parents at the center, drop in unexpectedly, do your research).

Understand that this is a developmental milestone.  Your child is grown up enough now to understand you are going away.  Like all milestones, it will come and it will go.

Say goodbye lovingly and firmly… and then leave!

Crying children will keep crying while a parent is around.  The longer you stay, the longer they cry.  We’ve seen it hundreds (okay, probably thousands) of times.  You are welcome to stay as long as you need to, of course, but often the best remedy for a tear-filled separation is a quick exit.

Tell your child the truth

If you are leaving and going to be away all day, do not lie and say “Mommy will be right back.”  It may be tempting, but it will breed distrust in your child.  Also, do not “sneak out” while the child is not looking.  The time will still come when your child will notice you are gone, and they will still feel the sting of it.  Better for them to learn that Mom or Dad are true to their word– they are leaving, they will be back when they say they will be back.  This consistency helps children overcome separation anxiety sooner.

Millie Andreu, Director of Alphabet Soup Child Care Center, has been committed to the care and education of young children for 40 years.  First as a mother to her two now-grown children, then as a kindergarten teacher’s assistant and later a preschool group teacher, she finally realized her dream of creating her own quality child care center in 1996.  Hundreds of families have entrusted the care of their infants, toddlers, preschoolers, kindergarteners and school-aged children to Alphabet Soup since its inception.


Alphabet Soup Child Care Center 
212 Main Street, Ridgefield Park, New Jersey 07660
201-296-0224 and 201-296-0022

Dealing With Separation Anxiety – Tips From a Child Care Center Director
%d bloggers like this: