When Children Act Out at Daycare Pickup Time

You’ve finally finished a long, tiring day at work, and you can’t wait to go to the daycare center and squeeze your child in a tight hug before saying how much you missed him or her. You arrive and go to take your child home, but then a tantrum ensues.

You try to console your child without success, so you ask the baffled teacher or caretaker about what happened. The caretaker replies that your son or daughter behaved very well until pickup time.

Then you come to a somewhat unpleasant conclusion. Maybe your child doesn’t want to go home, and maybe he or she doesn’t want to see you.

If you ever find yourself in this situation, don’t worry. This happens to many parents, and your child still loves you and wants to see you. However, he or she may feel stressed. This blog post will help you not only understand the situation, but work with your child so you can fix it.

Why the Pickup Time Tantrums?

Children throw these tantrums for a variety of different reasons:

  • Many young children can’t verbally tell their parents about their activities, so they tell by showing. They want to go back through all the activities they did that day so they can show their parents the interesting things they did. If caretakers or parents stop them, they feel trapped and upset.
  • They bottle up their emotions during the day so they behave well, and they only show their frustrations to you when they feel safe. Those frustrations may come out in the form of tantrums at pickup.
  • They resent the change to daycare and haven’t come to terms with it yet.
  • They don’t know how to transition between being with a whole bunch of people and being with only a few people at home. The transition between different forms of stimulation may stress them out.

Your child really does want to see you at the end of the day. However, a tantrum shows that they need something from you. If your children start acting like this, make sure you talk to them about it. They will tell you if they want to show you thinks or if they feel lonely or frustrated.

You should also remember that you didn’t cause this problem. Your children still need to learn how to communicate effectively, and they probably won’t perfect that skill even after they become adults (most people don’t). So you just need to notice their tantrums and give them the opportunity to express themselves. Then you can adjust your behavior to try and help them.

How Can You Help Your Child?

Start by communicating with your child. He or she may not know how to articulate complex emotions with words, so sitting down and helping them work out their emotions should reveal the cause of their outbursts. It will take some time, and you will have to use a lot of patience as you use a mixture of actions, pictures, and words to communicate, but the effort will be worth the results.

You can also use the following tips to try and help your child work through angry emotions:

Create a Routine

Children feel more relaxed when they know what to expect from their day. The “unknown” may stress them out or make them afraid. But when they can depend on a routine, they can mentally prepare themselves for everything that happens throughout the day.

Routines can also help you, because they eliminate power struggles. You won’t have to fight your children to make them get in the car, brush their teeth, turn off the TV, etc. They’ll learn to do these things because “people do them at this time every day.” You’ll likely have fewer struggles over control and end up with a more constructive and peaceful relationship with your children.

Have Bonding Time after Daycare

Sometimes children feel bored when they come home. You have to cook dinner or do laundry, and they get to sit and watch. You should do an activity with your child every day after daycare so you can bond. Bonding activities might include:

  • Reading picture (or chapter) books together
  • Coloring
  • Doing puzzles
  • Playing with LEGOs or some other kind of building blocks
  • Playing simple board/card/puzzle games
  • Making sand castles
  • Eating a treat

Just find some way to bond with your child, even if it’s just talking and joking with them. This will make them feel appreciated and loved after an exciting (but exhausting) day at the childcare center.

As long as you stay in open communication with your child (or children), you should be able to solve the mystery of their post-daycare tantrums. You’ll also know how to best help your child so he or she will stop behaving so explosively. Eliminate the pickup time blues by using these tips today.  

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