Dear Director Series: How Do I De-stress our Stressful Pick-up Time? Help!

Dear Director Series: How Do I De-stress our Stressful Pick-up Time? Help!

The NGCC management teams get asked child development questions every day from parents looking to draw on our staff’s early childhood education and experiences.  As part of our “Dear Directorâ€? series we are happy to answer some of the questions on the NGCC blog.

Dear Director,

Pick-up time is usually one of my favorite times of day with my 3 year old son.  Lately though, pick-up time has been one of my least favorite times of the day.  He gets upset when I arrive to pick him up, sometimes running away or yelling.  He gives me a hard time getting in the car, often crying or whining.  A lot of days, this behavior will continue even when we get home.  I am feeling very frustrated.  At the end of a long day at work, all I want is to see my little boy’s happy face and hug him, but more and more often that is not happening.  Help!

Dear Parent,

Pick-up time can often be a stressful time for both parents and children; it is the end of a long day for everyone.  Children and parents are tired, hungry, and ready to go home (Yes, even when your child’s behavior suggests otherwise, they really just want to go home.) As your child gets older though, he is becoming more independent and more likely to exert his will in situations where it appears he has little control, add a little bit of tiredness and excitement at reuniting with mom or dad, and behaviors can quickly go downhill.

All is not lost though; here are a few tips to make pick up time a little less stressful:

*Establish a pick-up routine and follow it every day, every day no matter how tired you are or how late you are running.  Routine is everything to a child.  Talk through the routine the first few weeks with your child the night before and on the way to school.  These talks will remind your child what the routine is and reassure him that you will be following it.

*Give your child time to transition.  Often you walk into the classroom while your child is in the middle of an activity.  As much as you want to pick your child up and get home, it is important for you to allow your child to finish up whatever they are doing.  They need a few moments to wrap up their school activities and transition to “home modeâ€?.  If you know you are going to be in a huge hurry at pick-up time, save yourself a little bit of aggravation by calling the school ahead of time so your child’s teacher can give him a heads-up that you will be arriving and will need to leave right away.

*That morning, talk about a fun activity the two of you will do when you get home.  It may just be reading a favorite book or going on a walk, but it will definitely be something to look forward to and something to help ease the transition between school and home.

*Bring a snack for the car ride home.  Children always welcome a small snack or drink from home after school.  It is something to look forward to and a way to ward off the dinner time hunger pangs when you first get home.

*When you do get home, devote the first fifteen minutes or so to reconnecting and relaxing together.  As much as you want/need to get started on the evening chores, your child is craving some special mommy/daddy time.  Spend a few minutes together and then get your child started on an activity so you can get started on dinner or cleaning chores.

*If at all possible, avoid a lot of negative talk when picking up your child.  Every child is going to have their fair share of good times and challenging times during the day.  Rest assured that the teachers in the classroom address and redirect the challenges in the moment that day.  The teachers let you, the parents, know about the challenging times so that you are in the loop and we are all communicating if any behavior patterns emerge.  The teachers do not expect nor want you to go back and “disciplineâ€? because of challenges that happened earlier in the day.  The teachers and management team want you to spend the evening enjoying your child and sending lots of positive energy his/her way.  Tomorrow is new day!

Pick up time can be challenging.  Everyone is tired, nerves are frayed, and the evening chores are looming.  Establishing a couple of good and positive routines can make all the differences between a great evening and a not so great evening.

Good luck,

Your NGCC Center Director

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