Crying at pick-up time - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 05-13-2003, 12:05 PM - Thread Starter
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My daughter goes to a daycare center one day a week; she started back in January. It took her a few weeks to adjust, but we're to the point now that she doesn't cry when Daddy drops her off, she's taking great naps, eating all her lunch, etc. When I go to pick her up, I always watch her through the window for a few minutes, and she's always playing happily and seems content.

However, as soon as I open the door and she sees me, she throws herself on the floor and bursts into tears. She cries like her heart is breaking, until I pick her up, and then she continues to cry for about thirty seconds, and then it's over and she smiles at me, and she waves bye-bye and blows kisses to her teacher, and we leave.

So what is this all about? Is it just a release of tension? Has she been absolutely stressed out all day, wondering if I'm ever going to come to pick her up, and when she finally sees me it's such a relief to her that she loses control? That thought really bums me out. And she really does seem happy...her teacher says she's fine, she plays, she giggles, she smiles...So why the histronics when I pick her up?

It makes me sad...anyone else's baby do this?

By the way, she's 17 months old.
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#2 of 11 Old 05-13-2003, 12:49 PM
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She is most likely not stressed about being there if she is happy and eating well while she is at daycare. She is probably upset that you are interrupting her playtime with her friends and she doesn't want to leave.
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#3 of 11 Old 05-13-2003, 09:42 PM
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Every child I took care of when I was a nanny had some version of this behavior. It's upsetting for the parents and it's upsetting for the caregivers, but it's totally normal. One explanation I have always heard is that the child is saving up less-acceptable, scarier feelings for the person she feels safest with. It's no fun, of course, but it's a compliment in a way.
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#4 of 11 Old 05-13-2003, 10:14 PM
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I agree with urklemama--I think it is less about the child having a bad time with the caregiver and more about knowing that mama is there and can make all things better. I think that at 17 months she may be too young to equate mama's arrival with the idea that playing with friends is coming to an end...I get that somewhat with my 3.5 year old, and it just started this year.

But yes, I agree, it can be disconcerting.

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#5 of 11 Old 05-13-2003, 10:15 PM
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My kids do this too, DS in particular. My theory has always been that though he's having a grand old time during the day without me, as soon as he sees me, he just REALLY wants to be with me and kind of "fill up the cup" with some mom-time, and he can't wait ONE SECOND for me to leap the gate at the door! With DD, she actually had a hard time coming to me when I picked her up when she was in the process of bonding really tightly with one of her teachers. She now feels more secure with that teacher so she goes back and forth more easily, but for a while she wouldn't want to go home with me, and some days both of them are pretty torn about going home or hanging out with their friends some more. It is very weird--I was more prepared for the morning separation problems (which have been pretty minimal), but this caught me a little off guard.


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#6 of 11 Old 05-14-2003, 12:16 AM
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All of the children I had in my daycare would do something like this. SOme would just cry and some would go crazy and be naughty even thought they were angels while thier mom was gone. It was both funny and sad. It is a wierd phenomenon (sp?). I don't really get it but the kids did really seem happy while in my care ando ne still comes over to play on a pretty regulara basis just for kicks so it isn't like she hated me.

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#7 of 11 Old 05-14-2003, 12:57 AM
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OK I'm an adult here.......... I don't see my family very often my sister lives in Africa, everytime I arrive at the airport and she's standing there - I CRY - EVERYTIME..... (I only see her every 2 or 3 years)

Its probably what your little one is feeling, that huge sense of RELIEF, and utter JOY.
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#8 of 11 Old 05-14-2003, 10:39 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone...I feel reassured. Chelly, I hadn't even thought about the fact that I get teary when I see my family after a long separation...that makes a lot of sense.

I guess it is just a rush of emotions that she can't quite deal with yet.

She stays with her grandparents the other three days of the week and she's never done this when I pick her up there--but then again, they've been keeping her while I work since she was four months old, so it's old hat to her now!
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#9 of 11 Old 05-14-2003, 11:58 AM
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I just wanted to add that my ds used to do this, as well, when I picked him up from daycare. I knew he was happy there, and the teachers always said he was an angel all day.
Now, it is very apparent that he is very happy to see me. He usually doesn't cry anymore. He runs for me, but if anything gets in his way it is instant tears till he is in my arms.
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#10 of 11 Old 05-14-2003, 12:22 PM
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I've noticed this allot, too. It's not as immediate as you describe but my ds often has a meltdown at some point on the way home. I have 2 theories:

1. A friend of my mother's, who is a psychologist and mother of 2, made a comment when ds was quite young that children often have difficulty in transitions between caregivers. Kind of a momentary, "Who's in charge?!" when they have to move from the care of one person to the care of another. I've never seen this theory mentioned elsewhere but I've often felt it might be valid in some cases.

2. I know my ds is uncomfortable saying he loves me and he loves his babysitter, although I know he does, so maybe he feels he's being disloyal. I try to let him know I love his babysitter.
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#11 of 11 Old 05-15-2003, 10:55 AM
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Interesting to read. DS doesn't cry when he sees me - but once or twice- I've had to give him back to the ladies for a second while I slipped on my shoes or readjusted my bags- and then he cries and screams. So, he is happy to see me, but once I arrive- he expects it to me and only me from there on out (then he'll happily wave and smile bye bye to everyone in the room). I've made sure I wear easy shoes to slip on and off (I'm not kidding) and I have everything all set to hold him because I feel so bad that he gets upset like that.
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