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My 3-year-old likes daycare, but morning drop-off is a challenge!
Q: My 3-year-old old son has been going to a preschool/daycare three days a week for about seven months now. Before that, he was in private daycare. Every morning he says he doesn't want to go, and when I take him, he clings to me and won't really talk to anyone. My husband picks him up in the afternoon and says he seems fine, but is always very happy to go home. He talks about school all the time, so I think he enjoys it. I spoke with the teacher and she says he's fine after I leave, just very quiet. I guess the reason it worries me is because he is not like this anywhere else. He is usually a very outgoing child. Any advice or am I worrying for nothing?
A: There is quite a lot of evidence in your description that he is not really unhappy in his school setting—he is fine when your husband picks him up, talks a lot about his school, etc. So I wouldn’t worry too much. And I’ll tell you a little secret, Angie: sometimes kids do that because they think their mothers will be unhappy if they don’t! It sounds as though he recovers after a brief adjustment period once you leave. If the school has an observation room, stay for a while and see for yourself how long it takes him to settle down after you leave.

Another useful trick is to select a special toy once or twice a week that he can take for show and tell. That will help him look forward to getting to school. Also each morning I would rehearse with him the day’s schedule—“mummy’s going to take you to school and Daddy will pick you up and bring you home.” And talk to the director about whether he could call you on the phone once during the day if he seems upset. Finally, talk to him about why he cries; you might be surprised at how articulate he can be.