Managing Goodbyes

Help Your Child Manage Goodbyes

It can be tough for parents – especially new moms and dads – to leave their child in the care of another adult while they work or are attending to other matters, but it can be even harder when the child is upset too. Rest assured that your child care professional knows how to calm distressed infants and children. She may even have some helpful advice for you on how to make separations easier for you both.

If your child is having a hard time saying goodbye each time you leave, and you find yourself unhappy and worrying about her, ask your provider how she handles a child that needs a little extra attention due to separation anxiety or who is having a rough morning. Follow her advice and then discuss what tweaks you can make if she continues having a hard time. Together you and your child care professional can create a plan that makes you and your child both feel at ease, and even soothes your fears while you are away!

Ideas to Help Your Child with Goodbyes:


  • Make sure your child has a special “lovey,” such as a blanket, items of your clothes or stuffed animal that provides comfort and makes him feel safe.
  • Separation anxiety usually starts around six to seven months and is a normal, healthy sign that your baby is developing as he should.
  • Give your child a special toy that he can only play with when you are gone.

AGE 1 TO 2

  • Plan to spend 10 – 15 minutes easing your child into the morning once you arrive at child care. Perhaps you can read a quick book while snuggling or do some drawing together.
  • Keep your goodbyes quick and upbeat to reassure your little one that she will be fine while you are gone.
  • Start goodbye rituals when your child is young. Children love routines and predictability so help them out by always using the same entrance for drop-offs, have a special hug and goodbye.

AGE 2 TO 3

  • Work with your care giver to set up a morning routine or to help distract your child with play during drop off each day. However, don’t sneak away – always say good-bye and assure them that you will be back.
  • Focus on the fun your child will have while he is with his child care provider. Be sure to mention some of his favorite activities that happen each day.
  • Remember, separation anxiety is just a phase. It will get better.

AGE 3 TO 4

  • Even at 3 years old, saying goodbye can be hard. Does your child’s teacher help by giving special 1-on-1 time during your departure?
  • Help boost your child’s coping skills by practicing mini-goodbyes or playing games like hide and seek and peek-a-boo at home.
  • Ask your child care provider how she helps to soothe your child once you are gone. Distraction with a game, cuddling, reading are all good ideas to suggest.

AGE 4 TO 5

  • Create a picture collage of important people in your child’s lives; let him help you pick the photos! When it’s done, let him keep it at school.
  • If your child regresses, don’t panic or get upset. Just try using some of the same methods again and talk with your provider to see if any changes have happened in the provider’s program.
  • Create a connection with a special teacher who will greet your child and ease the transition every day.

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