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  • Writer's pictureCerissa Rhodes

Do you dread drop-off?

Updated: Jan 9

Do you dread drop-off? Are you tired of the daily meltdown? Do you find yourself starting calm, nurturing, and supportive, but frustrated 5 minutes later?


Drop-off has been the worst part of my day...SOOOOO many times! I tried all the tricks. I warned him that we were almost to school. I prepared him by saying, "I am going to walk you in and leave." I tried rewards. Nothing seemed to work! It always ended in him crying hysterically and me angrily prying his hands off me, while fighting back my tears...tears of frustration, anger, and GUILT! Oh, the guilt!


Kiddo crying at school drop off.
Hang in there mama, its hard to leave when are kids are so upset.

I would leave second-guessing my "choice to work." I mean do we need my income? Shouldn't he be my priority? Would he be so upset, if he didn't have to stay for morning and afternoon care? Am I causing his separation anxiety?


However, the reality is both working and stay-at-home moms experience drop-offs and separations from their kids. Whether I worked or not, he would still have to go to school. And no, I was not causing his separation anxiety.


Separation anxiety is normal at different ages and naturally ebbs and flows as kids develop. Anxiety and fear both trigger the fight, flight, or freeze response in kids and therefore his reaction is not over the top, but a fear response. However, what I didn't know is that there was another way.


I could have focused on my behavior and my behavior only. I could not despite all my efforts make him accept drop-off and calmly separate from myself. I could not magically make him like going to school or being separated from me all day. I could, however, confidentially and systemically focus on my role in drop-off. I give a supportive statement, hug, kiss, and confidentiality turn and leave despite the meltdown.


Would this be easy? No! Would I still have guilt? Probably... at least at first. Would he still go into fight mode...cling to me and cry? Likely...so how would this be different?


By making a plan on how I would respond and sticking to the plan, I am preventing myself (as best I can) from getting frustrated, I am setting myself and him up for success (as long as I leave and he stays its a success) and I am focused only on my behavior (I cannot make him go calmly). Most importantly, my confidence would send the message that while he was scared to be separated from me, I was not scared and therefore it must be safe.

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