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Tips to Create Happy School Drop-offs and Pick-ups

"Mommmmm! Don't leave me," pleads Amy, as Mom tries to peel her daughter from her leg at school. "Honey, I have to go or I will late for work," Mom tries to explain but to no avail. Sound familiar? Here are some tips to create happy drop-offs and pick-ups.


1. Organize. Help your child get themselves ready the night before. Set out their clothes and papers for school in the same place each morning. This eliminates morning rushing. This helps your child feel more independent which prevents the need for struggles for power.

2. Connect. Take time to deeply connect with your child BEFORE you start your morning ritual. Bonding time makes your child feel safe and secure and as a result, he/she will be more cooperative. Cuddling time and discussing the events of the day works wonders.

3. Slow down. Being in a hurry creates tension that children can sense. Stressful situations make fertile ground for tantrums or power struggles.

4. Give them something to remember. If toddler misses you, give him/her something of yours she/he can put in their back-pack to help them remember you, for example, a scarf with your perfume. Ask them for something of theirs that you have during the day so they can feel valuable to you also.

5. Be Firm and Kind. Try not to argue or use force to get your child to get in the car. Use choices and kind but, firm action instead, "Would you like to walk or would you like me to carry you?"

6. Never threaten to leave your child. This may get immediate results but it the long run, it deteriorates trust between the two of you.

7. Avoid over-comforting good-byes. Be confident that your child will be fine. When parents over-comfort their child, they learn to draw out the good-bye time.

8. Create a fun goodbyes. Children thrive on routine. Create a fun goodbye routine together. For example, create a special high five or a hand game and send them off with an endearing name.

9. Let them know what is going to happen. Talk about the sequence of the schedule every morning. For example,"I'll walk you in, you put up your lunch box, I'll give you a hug and a kiss, a high five, and then I leave." You can also ask them how they want this sequence to go. This helps them feel secure.

10. Be playful. The more fun and confident you are, the easier your goodbye will be. A playful attitude entices even the most resistant minds.

11. Develop your confidence. Make sure that you feel confident about the situation you are leaving your child in. If you are not, your ambivalence will be picked up on your child's radar screen.

Some children need to stand back and observe before they jump into activities. If you push them beyond their comfort zone, a power struggle may ensue.12. Honor their temperament.


1. Put yourself "in the mood" for picking up your child before you arrive - clear your mind of work, errands, and dinner so you can be totally available to your child.

2. Center. Centering yourself before you pick up will help you find a solution no matter how creative your child is! Take three deep relaxing breaths as you walk in the door.

3. Greet them enthusiastically. Make sure your face lights up when you see them. This lets them know they cherished by you.

4. Give full attention. Take a moment to give your child your undivided attention BEFORE you talk to the teacher or anyone else. Do not be talking or texting on your phone. These give your child the message that they are not important.

5. Connect. Avoid asking prying questions especially about their behavior. Ask questions that are open ended instead of questions they can answer with a yes or no.

6. Look for patterns of what maybe upsetting your child. Some children have trouble making transitions from one activity to the next. Some children have trouble saying "goodbye." Others are hungry. Discover the pattern and make a prevention plan. For example, bring a healthy snack in your car if they are hungry after school.

7. Schedule sanely. Over-scheduling causes tension. Tension can lead to unwanted meltdowns.

8. Keep your word. Our children have an uncanny knowing of when they are being respected.

Drop-offs and pick-ups can be joyful and connecting if you have some tools in your tool bag.


Parenting Practice

This week, when you drop-off or pick-up your kids from school, use one of these tools.


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"Slow down. Being in a hurry creates tension that children can sense. Stressful situations make fertile ground for tantrums or power struggles."

Kathryn Kvols


Parenting can be quite the challenge. It is always good to have new tools in your "parenting tool box." Want personal coaching and problem solving solutions? Sign up for a FREE 15 Minute Strategy Session. We will pinpoint an irksome behavior and plan a strategy for resolving this issue.


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Kathryn Kvols

Author, Lecturer, Parenting Coach

(352) 494-1581

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