Saying goodbye is particularly tough for some toddlers.  Of course, they want you with them. And sometimes parents just have to work.

To help your toddler feel less upset when you leave them firstly, find things that can help such as rituals you create or pictures. Let your toddler know it’s sad when you have to leave them. And ask what might help.

  • Could it be they need a ritual like three hugs before you go?
  • Or to take their coat off and play with them for a minute before leaving?
  • Or a kiss on the palm of their hand, they can hold on to?
  • Or a little polished stone they keep in their pocket to remind them you’ll be back?
  • Could it be a laminated picture of you cuddling them that they keep with them?
  • Or a really great idea is: take a whole set of digital photos, and put them in a little album with photos of all the things that happen in the day – from getting up – to the daily routine when you’re not with them – and a photo of you coming back for them and having a lovely evening together. To help them understand the routine.

Of course, if something is really upsetting them, and nothing helps you may need to consider making different child-care arrangements.

Secondly, help your child form a really good picture in their head of what’s going to happen – To do this you ask lots of questions, and gently correct them if they don’t get it right. So several times a day, ask your child:

  • “Tomorrow morning – where will you be going?
  • And how will you remember to be brave when I leave?
  • How many hugs will you get?
  • Who’s going to care for you?
  • What other children might be there?
  • And what might you do during the day?
  • Then what time will I come back?
  • And what will be your favourite part of the evening with me?”

And finally – always say goodbye, return when you say you will and plan quality time together.
It helps your toddler feel more secure and safe if you make sure you always say goodbye when you leave. Be kind and gentle, but firm when you go. Make sure you always come back when you say you will. And plan at least 15 minutes of quality time in the evening, where you just play with them or read with them. So they know they have that to look forward to.

So three tips to help your toddler feel less upset when you leave them are:

  1. Find things that can help when you leave them such as rituals or pictures.
  2. Ask questions about what’s going to happen when you leave them.
  3. And always say goodbye, return when you say you will and plan quality time together afterwards.

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If you need more than three tips on this – or you’d like to discover the secrets you need to have happy well-behaved, children – please contact me by clicking here. You can arrange a free 20-minute (no obligation) chat to find out if working with me personally (by phone, Skype or face-to-face) would help you and your family. Contact Elizabeth

child behavioural expert
The author:

Elizabeth O’Shea is a parenting specialist child behaviour expert and one of the leading parenting experts in the UK.

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