Tantrums at daycare pickup - why? and what to do? — The Bump
D.C. Area Babies

Tantrums at daycare pickup - why? and what to do?

This is a new one for me, so I'm hoping someone else has a clue about what's going on. For the past week, M has thrown a fit every day when I pick him up from daycare. He's initially happy to see me, but then when I try to gather his things and get him ready to leave, he freaks out about something.

One day he had a fit because he saw his cup of milk, but it was empty, so he couldn't drink any of it. I offered him a cup of water, but that just made him more mad, and he threw it across the room and started screaming. Other days he's freaked out over me packing his bag, putting on his jacket, and putting on socks. I don't think he's really upset over these individual things, but he's clearly upset about something. I don't think he wants to stay at daycare all night and not go home with me, but even if that's what he wants, it's not an option! He's thrown a tantrum at pick-up every day this week and I'm starting to dread picking him up. He's usually fine once we get out the door.

Any ideas on how to deal with this or what I can do to prevent it?
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Re: Tantrums at daycare pickup - why? and what to do?

  • Maybe the transition is hard for him?  Could you try some sort of ritual - for example - where he says goodbye to the toys he was playing with - as well as goodbye to his friends/teachers (which I'm sure you already do)?
  • One of my friends went through a similar thing, but it was any time they moved from one activity to another, like when we went to the zoo their son got upset at us leaving (even though we hardly know him) and then at leaving where we were sitting.  All they needed to do was say, "say bye-bye X, we'll see you again soon, it's time to go home" and he was totally fine - it seemed crazy to me, but it worked every time!

    can DCP help with the "getting ready to go home" state of mind by having him help pack up his bag, put on his socks, etc. before you get there or as you arrive?

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  • Yeah, it sounds like he's having a hard time with transitions. Do you generally pick him up at the same time? It would help if your DCP started broadcasting what was happening--like "Ok, M, pretty soon your mommy will be here and you're going to get all your stuff and go home!" And then "OK, your mommy is here! Time to get your stuff and go home!" And you pick it up and run with it.
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  • sprout throws tantrums for no reason.  like, i'll be all "do you want some water?" and he starts acting happy.  I give him a cup of water & OMFG you'd think the world was ending.  He throws the cup, then hurls himself on the ground & writhes around dramatically.  Then, eventually, he gets up like nothing happened & drinks his water & goes about his merry way.

    i'm thinking we're just entering the terrible 2s & the kiddos are trying to exert independence.

  • Or - could he be unusually hungry or tired, getting ready for some milestone?  T is a beast for DH at pickup some nights, and those tend to be the nights she comes home starving and wants to eat everything in sight or exhausted and can barely be woken up to get out of the car seat.  Sometimes a snack in the car helps her settle down (if it's hunger).
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  • A few things come to mind:

    he's not too young for the terrible 2s, which start way before the 2nd bday, in my experience;

    he wants to express frustration at DCP but doesn't feel comfortable enough so he waits until you show up and lets it RELEASE; DD used to save hers until we walked into the house

    DS, for the past few months, cries when I drop him off at my Mom's b/c he doesn't want to let me go and cries when I pick him up b/c he doesn't want to let her go or stop playing.

    As to what to do - you can try to ignore the tantrums, do not try to reason with him. Read Magic 1-2-3, you can also just pick him up and carry him to the car.

     

  • Thanks for your thoughts. I think he's probably tired when I pick him up, but there's not much I can do to solve that specific problem. It could be the transitioning thing, so maybe I'll try playing with him for a few minutes before we start getting ready to leave.

    Last Wed-Fri I didn't want to battle him over getting dressed to leave, so I just took him out without his coat and in bare feet. We're only outside for about 10 seconds until we get in the car, and he seemed fine, so I guess I'll just take him out like that if he fights getting dressed. I'll also try to remember to bring a healthy snack, in case that's the issue.
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  • imagekastle:

    sprout throws tantrums for no reason.  like, i'll be all "do you want some water?" and he starts acting happy.  I give him a cup of water & OMFG you'd think the world was ending.  He throws the cup, then hurls himself on the ground & writhes around dramatically.  Then, eventually, he gets up like nothing happened & drinks his water & goes about his merry way.

    i'm thinking we're just entering the terrible 2s & the kiddos are trying to exert independence.



    This is also happening in our house. So much fun!
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  • imageWinesNotWhines:
    Thanks for your thoughts. I think he's probably tired when I pick him up, but there's not much I can do to solve that specific problem. It could be the transitioning thing, so maybe I'll try playing with him for a few minutes before we start getting ready to leave.

    Last Wed-Fri I didn't want to battle him over getting dressed to leave, so I just took him out without his coat and in bare feet. We're only outside for about 10 seconds until we get in the car, and he seemed fine, so I guess I'll just take him out like that if he fights getting dressed. I'll also try to remember to bring a healthy snack, in case that's the issue.

     

    It's hard to try and understand them and it just sounds like he is getting his tantrums down early.  Both of my kids have gone through both the "don't leave us in the morning" and "don't take us away from this awesome daycare in the evening" stages, sometimes both at the same time (SO frustrating!).  Getting dressed is still an issue with Molly and I remember thinking it was like an Olympic sport with Maggie when she went through the don't ever change my clothes stage - it required speed, agility and mental toughness! 

    You can try to make it easier by not putting things on or off him unnecessarily (I would have taken the kids to daycare in jammies if they hadn't needed a diaper change anyway).  However I have learned that sometimes you just need to get through that transition as fast as possible and on to the next thing for them to forget what upset them so much.  Like for getting dressed in the mornings.  I just would power through it with Molly and get her to the car as fast as possible because once we were on the go she would forget about being so upset over getting changed.  I also learned it with Maggie where I tried giving her time to wake up in the morning, waiting for her to ask to get dressed, promising great things out in the car (milk, fruit snacks, fave songs).  None of it worked and the worst was she would get dressed like a little angel for any visiting relative, even after she had fought me for hours.  Molly was a newborn when Maggie was going through it and I needed to take Maggie to the dr for a checkup - I tried for hours and was crying when my SIL came upstairs (she lives with us) and offered to try and Maggie got dressed like it was no big deal for her.  The silver lining to this storm cloud is that is a stage and it will pass too.

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