As adults, the end of the day brings thoughts of relaxation and comfort to our mind. Another day of hard work accomplished and now it's time to pick up the kids. Surely your children (child) feels the same way you do right? Why then, when your child first sees you, they turn and run the other direction or get upset that your timing isn't lined up with their agenda. Their dissatisfaction swiftly changes your mindset from tranquil to edgy. As a child care professional with 20+ years of experience, let me assure you, this is age appropriate and happens all the time. Here are a few things I've learned that can help both you and your child.
Day of - One idea is to share words of empathy with your child, for example, “I see you are playing with __________" or, "I see you are getting ready to go outside with your friends." Taking the time to acknowledge that you are aware of what's going on in your child's life validates to them that you care. Then, let your child know that it's time to go home for the night and redirect the child to helping pack up (for example, carry bag, pack items in bag, find other items to take home, etc...). This brief moment of shared direction will help change your child’s mindset and give you the chance to bring the transition of going home to a cooperative, joint effort.
Setting expectations - Your children don't use daily planners, have their schedules mapped out or think about how they're going to get from A to B. As working parents, it can be difficult to separate the way you prepare from the way your child prepares. That's why it's important to set up a routine of what's done each night so the expectation(s) is the same. If you would like your child to carry something home from daycare, than expect it every night. If/when your child says “no” and drops their bag on the ground, it's important to use consistent language and hold strong to your expectations. Do this by saying, “I see you dropped your bag, please pick it up so we can go home.” Being accountable and respectful are key to building character as your child grows and matures.
Everybody has bads days, including your child. If these ideas fall apart, you may need to pick up your child, take them to the car, and buckle them in. If the child is crying and screaming it's important that you don't give in.
Silence is more powerful than words, so take a few breaths and imagine you are in a magical place where all you wishes come true (Disneyland, here I come). Once the child is calm, use a quiet tone to say “I see you are ready to go home, so am I". The moment is gone and you did it! Enjoy and celebrate the joy and gratitude of being a parent. Celebrate all you do cause you are AWESOME!!