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My 20 month old boy has suddenly started separation anxiety behaviors (crying, screaming) during drop-off at day care and at bedtime. He has been fine at day care for several months now and similarly, has been fine going to sleep on his own after his bedtime routine. There was a 2 week break from day care, and all this began when he returned. Is this normal? And should I be more lenient about his bedtime routine until this passes (e.g. stay with him until he falls asleep so he doesn't cry)? Thanks for any advice.”

2 replies so far...

  • The two-week break from daycare would probably do it, yes. (I am a daycare provider, and in fact, one of the tots in my care, just about the same age, was doing the exact same thing last week after my two-week vacation! I blogged about it earlier this week.)

    At daycare dropoff, be very calm and cheerful. The message you want to convey is "I know you'll do just fine!" If you spend time coaxing and cajoling, you end up not reassuring the child (which is what you're intending, of course), but instead, you're conveying the message, "I know, daycare is a scary place, isn't it?" NOT what you want. And you know, because this is new behaviour, that he does really enjoy daycare. SO: calm, cheerful, confident - AND BRIEF. Do not stay for more than a couple of minutes. And I mean that literally: two minutes, 120 seconds.

    Another tip: Hold him until you're ready to leave. When you're ready to leave, hand him directly into a staff-person's arms. And once you've handed him over, DO NOT take him back. Smile, wave, and vamoose!

    If you do this every day, he should be back to normal within a week. Two, if he's very persistent!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by MaryP on 9th September 2007

  • Seems normal to me. I'm not a fan of letting kids cry themselves to sleep-- I know a lot of people will disagree with me. I don't think that it fosters independence. Until she was 12, my husband and I took turns reading until our daughter fell asleep. She was always eager to go to bed and it was a really nice time for each of us. My husband never missed his turn, even if he had deadlines to meet at work-- he would come home, eat a bit of dinner, read and then go back to his office. A good book is Jim Trelease, "Hey! Listen to this! Stories to Read Aloud." One important thing is to never ever make the reading a prize or punishment. No matter what happens during the day, he or she knows that nice time is coming. ...Maybe if you established this regular time, it would help him relax. Maybe while reading you could also talk about the separation and assure him you don't like it either but it is something that can't be avoided. The nice thing about reading them to sleep is that they can get into a routine and fall asleep at about the same time every night so you can salvage some of the evening....unless of course, you fall asleep, too.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by KatieK on 6th September 2007