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Daycare Jitters

Your child had a pretty easy adjustment to daycare. But now it's several weeks later  -- and each morning he tearfully implores you not to leave him there. What's going on?

Something very common: Kids 6 months or older often adjust to separation quite well, only to resist it a month or two afterward. By this time, the novelty of daycare  -- the fun new children and toys, the caregiver  -- wears off, and it becomes hard to break away from more familiar people and surroundings, which can trigger clinging during drop-off.

Ways to help mornings go smoothly again:

  • REASSURE YOUR CHILD THAT YOU'LL RETURN Each night, do a run-through of what happens during drop-off and pickup to reinforce that Mommy leaves but also comes back.

  • ESTABLISH A GOODBYE RITUAL It can be as simple as a hug, a kiss, and an "I love you." Whatever the routine, do it religiously. Predictability helps children feel secure.

  • PUT ON A HAPPY FACE "Kids can sense their parents' anxiety," says Lawrence Balter, Ph.D., a professor of applied psychology at New York University. "If your child knows that you're worried, he'll be nervous, too."

  • RECRUIT THE CAREGIVER Can she tell him about the activities planned for the day, or ask him to put the napkins out for morning snack? The busier he is, the less he'll dwell on your departure.

  • LET HIM TAKE ALONG A FAVORITE BLANKET OR DOLL They don't call them security objects for nothing.