When Your Child Doesn’t Want to Leave Preschool

Preschool is a very fun place for children. There are lots of other kids to play with, lots of toys they don’t have at home, and lots of time to play, play, play. By the time you come to pick them up, children are also often tired from the day and not emotionally ready to deal with coming home.

As a parent it can be devastating to reunite with your child after a long day apart, only to have them burst into tears at the sight of you. It’s important to understand that although it may hurt your feelings, it’s completely normal.

Rest assured; your child is happy to see you. It’s simply that transitions are very difficult for children at this age and changing gears to go home can be a difficult one for them. If you’re struggling with a child who seems unhappy at pickup, here are a few tips to help calm the tears and make leaving Preschool a pleasant place again.

Let them finish what they’re doing

If you come to pick your child up and find them engrossed in an activity, give them a few minutes to finish what they are doing. Sometimes having the time to finish that block tower or color a picture is all they need to leave calmly.

If it’s not one they’ll be able to finish, warn them they have 5 minutes to get to a stopping point. Even if they can’t finish what they’re doing, knowing they have some time can help ease the transition between Preschool and home.

Offer choices

Giving your child choices (but not too many) can also help calm the storm. Instead of picking them up and simply taking them home, offer a few choices on what to do when they get home. If they know that they can choose between reading a book with you or 15 minutes of one-on-one playtime when they get home, it can give them something to look forward to.
When you get home, spend 30 minutes with your child playing and having fun. When your child knows that they are simply going to one fun activity to another, they may be more willing to leave without tears.

Make leaving fun

You can also help aid in the transition by making leaving fun. Can they jump like a kangaroo while going to the car? Do they know how to play red light, green light? Perhaps a game of it on the way out. If your child enjoys helping people, you might ask them to carry your bag for you or some other small tasks.

Your child loves you, but it may make you feel unloved when they burst into tears at the sight of you. Although hurtful, this is a very common issue that parents deal with in a young, tired child facing a transition.

These tips can help ease the transition so that your child is more willing to leave when it is time to say goodbye.