Quick tips for daddies thinking about madness and civilization

Eliyo’s changed daycare twice in the past 7 months and finally entered public daycare last week, so I can very much relate to Oliver’s recent status:

Just brought the boy to daycare. Waited in the door for 15 Minutes, listening to him crying, thinking about madness and civilization…

It is not necessarily related to going to a new daycare though, the fact that it’s not mummy bringing him in the morning anymore (doesn’t it make you feel so proud to bring your kid to daycare!) can trigger this morning drama…
The good news is, it doesn’t last. Within a week he’ll be running to his friends without waiving goodbye.

My tip to make the journey to and arrival at the daycare less “dra/trau-matic”.

“Show him that you enjoy being just the 2 of you, that you are familiar with the journey to the daycare, the daycare itself and the people there.”

Rather than finding a new route to the daycare everyday in the hope he won’t notice you’re taking him there, I recommend finding ways to make the journey there as familiar and fun to him as possible.

I’ll try to talk to him a lot. Then, I usually stop several times on the way during the first week to look at things that I know he likes, like flowers, trees, interesting objects that you know will still be there the next day. The simple fact of showing these to him makes them interesting to him and he will be happy to find these familiar objects the next day. I make sure to show him at least a couple of the same ones every day.

Upon arrival, I’ll usually find something interesting to show him (often flowers) right outside the daycare, to take his mind off of the fact that we have just arrived.

Now that you’ve got the “journey” dimension worked out, you need to work on the “people” dimension.

Before going in, and I think this is key here, I usually spend 1 minute outside, and I wave at the kids through the window, knock on it, try to grab the attention of a few of them to make them appear as friends of mine. Remember that he is not only uncomfortable with the journey but also with all the new people there (and not just the adults!!). Making them appear as your friends is the fastest way to make him relax and go on on his own (just like when you have friends at home – you chat and appear friendly to them before he’ll accept to stay close-by or be carried by them).
This extends to making sure he sees you chat and smile with the staff and interact with the other kids once you’ve entered the premises too.

Oh, and don’t forget to help him get familiar with the interior of the building too, however little you have access to (an aquarium at the entrance, painting/drawings on the wall, little decorations hanging from the wall).

Now, the first few days, no matter how hard you try, he’ll still probably scream when you pass him to the staff but these tips have worked for me 3 times. Eliyo didn’t cry yesterday when I brought him to daycare, and he didn’t even see me leave, too busy he was playing “Kick” (“キックウ〜” his latest word) with a ball.

Let me know how it works out, and if you have other tips.

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3 Comments

  1. Chris Lüscher

     /  April 14, 2010

    Spot-on. It also helps to understand how inadequate modern “nuclear family” living conditions are for kids. Kids, even the shyest, are very social beings. They lack all those distractions from work and social obligations that we have, they need other kids to distract them. Kids thrive in large groups of similar-age kids and have historically been doing so since the dawn of mankind – that is, until somebody invented 4 1/2 room appartments for single kids and grumpy moms and dads behind their laptop screens. Don’t deprive your kid of the joy of being social by consciously or unconsciously suggesting that you don’t want it to be with those of its age.

  2. Claire

     /  April 14, 2010

    I also did many of these things with my daughter on the way to daycare. Now she is four and going to preschool! Lucky for me she enjoys it very much. I found that on days when she didn’t want to go, I would remind her that her friends (who I would name) were waiting for her and would wonder where she was if she wasn’t there. Sometimes she could be convinced to go out of consideration for her friends. I really loved being able to talk to the daycare staff about my daughter, since I didn’t have many other people around who knew her as well as they did. It was good to get advice from them about problems, too. I often do “image training” with her at night, talking through step by step the plan for the following day. Even very little kids can benefit from this. If we are going to do something special, like going on a trip, I start mentioning it a couple weeks in advance. It’s easy to forget to tell your child your plans, especially when they are still very little and you’re not sure if they understand, but they really do understand, and it helps a lot.

  3. James Bowskill

     /  April 14, 2010

    Hi Paul — this really rings true for me too. We would do things like guess what colour diggers we’d see on the construction site we passed. I found guessing worked really well — for example we’d guess what colour t-shirt his friends/teachers would be wearing. That way he would be focussed on that upon arrival, and things went really smoothly.Nowadays he tells me off for collecting him too early as he wants to keep playing though 😉

  • Aka.me

    Based in Paris & Tokyo, Paul Baron is a senior product manager for hire. Ex-@AQworks. Co-founder of cultural platform Tokyo Art Beat.
    Service design, interaction design, startups, user research.
    Posts a few times a decade since 2003.

    Visit Aka.me for the full site.


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