Say goodbye to daycare refusal drama, once and for all

Bella Heim
Bella Heim
Bella is a mummy of three, writer, and photographer. She's not afraid to admit that she relies on a little red wine to keep the chaos of motherhood at bay. When she's not dodging toys and dirty diapers, you'll find her documenting the wild and wonderful ride of parenthood, and adding a splash of inspiration, creativity, and a healthy dose of mum humour along the way.
Created on Oct 30, 2023 · 5 mins read

Just picture this: It’s a beautiful day outside. You’ve packed your toddler’s favourite toy, their favourite snack, given them a million kisses and hugs, and you’ve even sung them Baby Shark do do do do do, but your little one still isn’t budging. You’re ready to tackle the world but your toddler obviously has other plans (like making you want to pull your hair out). No matter what you do, they just refuse to go to daycare. It’s like trying to convince a cat to take a bath, the whole scene is dramatic and just a bit too crazy – certainly not something you can deal with on a Monday morning (when you haven’t even had the time to reach for that cup of coffee yet)! I know, I know, watching your little one cry and not knowing how to help them is just like the cherry on top of the daycare-refusal sundae. And what a sundae it is! There’s the gooey layer of frustration, the crunchy bits of uncertainty, and the creamy swirl of hope that everything will turn out okay. But before you lose hope and worry that your little one will never get used to the idea of daycare, let me give you some tips that just might do the trick.

Give them options like a menu at a fancy restaurant

Giving your little toddler a sense of control and autonomy can go a long way in making them feel comfortable and happy. Try offering them simple choices, like what toy they want to bring to daycare or what snack they want to have. But beware, if you let them choose their outfit, you might end up with a tutu and cowboy boots combo. But hey, at least they’re smiling!

Establish daily routine like clockwork

As you may already be aware, small children really thrive on routine, so try to establish a consistent schedule for getting ready for and going to daycare. This could include a special goodbye hug, a special song you sing together, or a special snack you have before leaving. Having these set routines can help provide comfort and familiarity for your toddler, and also give you a chance to break out your singing voice!

Pump them up like a pregame sports rally

One of the best ways to make daycare seem less intimidating is to get your toddler excited about it. Talk about all the fun activities they’ll get to do and the new friends they’ll get to make. If you can, show them pictures of the daycare and their teacher, and you can try to ask their teacher to send you daily updates on their activities. This will help keep you up to date with their daycare experience. It will also be a lot of fun for your toddler to share their daily activities with you (and those drawings that they are sooo proud of). And who knows, you might even learn a thing or two from their daily updates!

Get involved!

If your toddler is still resistant to the idea of daycare, try to get involved in the process yourself. You can go with them on their first day, or you can attend events or activities at the daycare to show your support. You can also talk to their teacher and ask for their input on how to make the transition easier for your little one. And if all else fails, you can always threaten to bring your own pacifier to daycare and nap with them.

Be patient, my friend

Have you ever had to settle in a new workplace? Or the first few months of adjusting to being a mum? Do you remember how it also took some time for you to really feel comfortable in your new role? Well, it’s even more difficult for little ones! Don’t forget that this is a transition period for your toddler, and it will also take some time for them to fully adjust. Just try your best to keep being consistent, offering support, and encouraging them, and they will eventually come around (and may even beg you to take them to daycare on the weekend!). You can also talk to your doctor or a child psychologist for additional tips and strategies to help with the transition. And in the midst of all this chaos, try to remember that “patience is a virtue” – even if it’s a virtue you never knew you needed.

Investigate the cause

Maybe you have tried everything else and your little one is still pouring tears at you when you mention daycare. There could actually be something going on in daycare that is causing your toddler to not want to go. Maybe they don’t like the food, or they had a bad experience with another child. It’s important to find out what the root cause is, so you can work together with the daycare to resolve the issue. Think of it like a detective story, with you as the Sherlock Holmes of daycare.

Let them spill their feelings, like a jar of spaghetti sauce

So, your little one is still giving daycare the side-eye and you’re feeling like you’re up a creek without a paddle. Ah, I feel for you. We all know how toddlers can be pretty dramatic, right? Sometimes they probably don’t even know what’s actually bugging them about daycare, but they sure do know they’re not too happy about it. So, what do you do? You let them spill their feelings, like a jar of spaghetti sauce all over your kitchen floor. Just kidding, you don’t actually want to clean up that mess. But, what you do want to do is listen to them. Ask them open-ended questions like, “What’s up with daycare today?” or “What would you like mummy/daddy to do for you?” Listen to their answers and always remind them that you’re there to support them, no matter what.

So, do you remember the daycare refusal sundae that I mentioned earlier? I forgot to mention the main ingredient: love. Yes! The love you have for your little one who, at the moment, seems to be giving daycare the hard cold shoulder. With your patience and love, your toddler will eventually come around and learn to love their time at daycare. I know it all seems very hard right now, but keep being hopeful because once your toddler gets comfortable with their new surroundings, they’ll be making new friends, learning new things, and discovering their own independence. Much like a caterpillar turning into a beautiful butterfly.

So, let’s raise a cup of (imaginary) juice to the future adventures that await your little one at daycare. May they be filled with laughter, learning, and love. And to you, dear parent, may you find peace of mind knowing that your child is in good hands and growing into the amazing person they were meant to be.

Good luck!

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