21 month old agressive and crying at daycare, any suggestions?

Tisha - posted on 01/19/2012 ( 1 mom has responded )

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I have a 21 month old who used to love daycare, now when I leave him he cries for me to hold him, then he is aggressive during the day and doesn't nap well, any suggestions? Thanks everyone!

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Katherine - posted on 01/19/2012

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Your toddler has learned that you are a separate entity and that you can leave her. However, she doesn't yet grasp the reliability of your coming back, which can make her very upset to see you go. This separation anxiety, which can come and go throughout the toddler years, typically peaks around 18 months and fades altogether by age 3.



In the meantime, resist the urge to sneak away when your toddler's back is turned — when you leave her at daycare, for example. It won't help her cope, and it may just make her more afraid that you aren't coming back. Hard as it can be, say goodbye and go while she's watching



19 to 24 months

Your toddler's self-awareness turns an important corner at this age. Evidence comes from a famous British study that compared babies under 1 with 21-month-olds. Researchers placed the younger babies in front of a mirror to see whether they understood that the reflection was an image of themselves. They didn't. The babies patted their mirror image, behaving as if they were seeing another baby. And when researchers dabbed red rouge on the babies' noses and plopped them back in front of the mirror, the babies always tried to touch their reflection's nose, not their own.



In contrast, when the researchers tried the same experiment with 21-month-olds, the children demonstrated a clear sense of self-awareness: They touched their own nose when they saw the red-nosed image in the mirror.



Not only does your toddler now better understand that she's her own person, she's better able to recover from a bout of separation anxiety. Even if she still gets upset when you leave her at daycare or with a sitter, she'll calm down more quickly because she's become more secure. Experience and her budding memory skills have taught her that you'll come back after being gone for a while. You've built her trust by continually showing her that you love and care for her.



It's also this trust that gives her the confidence to assert herself. Her insistence on wearing those green pajamas for the fifth night in a row, eating only certain foods, and climbing into her car seat by herself are all signs of her increasing independence.



25 to 30 months

Between the ages of 2 and 3, your child will continue to struggle for independence. She'll wander farther away from you as she goes exploring and she'll regularly test her limits (coloring on the walls, for example, even if you tell her not to, or leaving her room if you've placed her there for some quiet time when she's misbehaved). "I can do it myself" will probably be one of her most common refrains.



31 to 36 months

If she's like most kids, your child will conquer separation anxiety by her third birthday. But don't be surprised if, once she's cleared this hurdle, temporary episodes of separation anxiety recur from time to time. The road to maturity is riddled with separations: The first day of preschool, the first time at sleep-away camp, and even the first year of college. Helping your child cope with separation now will make future separations easier.

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