Young children learn all kinds of coping strategies during the preschool years. Acting out is one way to communicate complex feelings. "I hate you!" really means, "This is hard for me. I need your help.” To ease the transition from school to home, look at pickup time as an important reunion.
Here are some tips to make the everyday reunion meaningful:
- Observe your child carefully. Be sensitive to her needs. Everyone responds to "hellos" and "goodbyes" differently.
- Be the teacher's partner. Ask questions about how your child is transitioning during the day. Be receptive to the teacher's ideas for what you can do at home to help.
- Don't plan anything right after school. All children need downtime before the next activity.
- Once at home, prioritize. Nothing is more important than spending time with your child. The laundry, the telephone, and getting dinner started can wait.
- Gain insight through play. Preschoolers have a rich imagination. Tapping into that can give you insight to what's going on in his head.
- Promote routines at home. Consistency makes children feel secure; having security prepares them to handle the many transitions of the day.
- Recognize problem behavior. There is a kind of inconsolable crying that needs professional attention. If you're dealing with a child who falls apart a lot, she may be extremely sensitive or scared. Ask your pediatrician for guidance.