How to Reduce School Drop Off Tears

Updated: Aug 31, 2021

Parents and children alike can have difficulty with the separation at school drop off. One way to reduce this anxiety and create a positive start to the school day is to create a “drop off ritual”.

Daily rituals create a sense of security and connection for children. Examples of rituals you may already have may be the songs you sing at bedtime or the hugs you share as a greeting each morning.

These consistent ways in which we interact with our children are brief moments of connection that make a big impact on their confidence and emotional well being. A ritual at drop off can ease the transition from home to school for all.

Make this ritual special and unique for you and your child.

  1. Introduce the ritual: “I am so excited for you to start school! When I drop you off we will do a special goodbye. What is a good way to say goodbye?” or “I sure am going to miss you when you are at school, let's think about a special way to say “see you soon” when I drop you off.”

  2. Consider including a physical connection (high five, kiss, hug, fist bump, etc.) Practice with more familiar drop offs prior to the start of the school year (i.e. when leaving your house to run errands, a drop off at grandma’s house, etc.)

  3. Use a reassuring statement of when you will return like, “ I will pick you up after you eat your lunch with your friends!” or “When rest time is over I will be here to pick you up!”

Be sure to practice many times!

  1. Find times in your familiar day to practice using your special ritual; drop off at grandma’s house or when you leave the house to run errands.

  2. Try including your ritual in pretend play. Preschool age children often imitate the actions and routines of adults in their play. You may have seen your child pretending to “make coffee” or “leaving for work”. Use these pretend moments to include your drop off routine. When you see your child engage in pretend play like this, join in by saying something like, “I will miss you when you go to work, let’s do our special goodbye before you go!”

  3. As the school year goes on, remain consistent with a comforting drop off ritual. You can keep it motivating for your child by adding or switching it up with fun new elements (fist bumps, high fives, secret hand shakes, etc.). Have fun with it!

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