How can I help my daughter with separation anxiety?

My 3 yr old has separation anxiety when I leave her anywhere (especially daycare) in 3 yrs she’s been to 2 daycares each over a year long. Every single day she is throwing tantrums, tries to run out the daycare, kicking, screaming, etc. I have tried explaining I will be back after work, I’ve tried distracting her with toys, I’ve tried making the goodbyes quick, etc. she’s fine after the first 10-20 min after I leave. She’s been at this daycare for almost a year and a half now and still no let up on the behavior. I’m at a loss. I don’t know what else I can do to help her…

if she’s fine after 10-20 minutes, it’s not separation anxiety… Just drop her off and say goodbye… she’s figured out it bothers you to leave her there and she’s trying to manipulate you into not leaving her.

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Can someone else take her a few times? If you’re not worried it’s something at daycare and it’s just seperatiom anxiety… try letting another daycare parent take her
Or you could always go a little early give her a few extra minutes with you there


Sometimes babes feed off your energy. I know how bad that hurts our mommy hearts, and kids can since that. Maybe she thinks if your sad enough you will come get her. Try being Sturn. “Mommy has to work, I love you GOOD BYE.” Leave don’t look back. She wil since your serious and it will stop

Edit to add: some babies will always always do this though. They just love you so much! Your doing a great job

I was the exact same way when my mom took me to day care. She had to come in one door to drop me off and leave out another so I wouldn’t follow her out. I threw tantrums etc… I eventually grew out of it.

If she’s okay shortly after you leave then she’s playing you. I have two like this


Does she stop after you leave ? My daughter used to do that and my daycare lady always texts me and says she’s much better now.


Get a pediatric counselor, that specialize in this area. I did it years ago … helped!!

my grgrandson does this when his mum leaves for about 2mins just trying to play you


When my youngest started headstart we went through similar. We found that keeping a pic of us together in her cubby along with an article of my clothing with my scent on it seemed to help. She could pull them out anytime she needed to cuddle and comfort herself. Now she doesn’t even want me walking her into school! :cry:

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Omg you ppl saying shes playing you. :joy::joy::joy::joy: she’s 3 ffs. 3. You must think children are born manipulative. Smmfh


Just time and patience. My middle child still had a hard time right into grade 2

Here’s an idea I’ve shared with others


My son would do that cry scream and try to chase me when I left? By the time I was in my car he would already be playing but then at pick up time I’m not ready don’t want to go home yet. Went on until 1st grade kindergarten same way

My daughter did the same thing. She is now 21 years old and lives in Tennessee. She will get over it. It truly harder on you then her

My daughter did that. Found out after a year that she was being abused. She cried the whole day at preschool


I’m a daycare provider and it’s really normal at that age & much harder on the parents than it really is the children. Can somebody else drop her off?

Honestly if she’s ONLY doing this at daycare I would be concerned


Give her a picture to hold in a locket and tell her you’re always with her and she can look at it while your at work and it may comfort her a bit! Plus unless the teacher says it’s an ongoing thing during the day I wouldn’t worry about it so much…she knows that’s the way to get you to to stay amd u need to be firm and let her know you’ll b back!

In daycare, it was so mindblowing the way some toddlers would cry and scream for their parents to not leave. As soon as parents were no longer in sight, they’d just stop and carry on with their day. Having so much fun and playing. I will say though, when I would drop my kids off with grandma, grandpa, rarely do they ever cry or “throw a fit”. I know they are getting all the love and what they need based on how they act when left there or wanting to stay longer. In my opinion, kids cry or beg for you because they feel insecure for some reason being left in the environment. It’s important for the daycare to build a bond with this child to show them they are safe and loved there. If that is not accomplished, I’d check into a new daycare. I understand that is hard to do in larger daycares with so many kids so maybe look into smaller, in home cares to see if that helps.


Its a show for you! Drop her, wait around the corner and watch… she will stop crying when your out of sight! Be confident and she will follow

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Have you asked your daughter? At 3 she should be able to convey some thought on the matter.

I remember reading somewhere of a situation like this and the child ended up saying something along the lines of “it’s cause I’m going to miss you”.

A locket necklace w/ picture. Or bracelet.
Something special just for her to say you are with her all day even while you are apart.

My son did that put stopped crying my the time I reached the outer gate.

Take. Her. To. Therapist

Drop her off and leave right away.

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Has anyone pointed out to her that no one else does this?

Help a mama out and respond anonymously on our forum. How can I help my daughter with separation anxiety?

Not much help i know… but i have exactly the same issue with my 3yr old daughter… iv tried everything but nothing works. Shes been going over a year now and we have the same tantrums to the point of her making herself sick at the thought of going to nursery, she begs me not to make her go! Even though she gets along with all of the children there and has made friendships and loves the teachers there she just does not like going. Im at my whits end with it and have no idea what to do to change it, she starts school next year and the thought of her going full time every day fills me with dread.

Have you tried speaking to the HV regarding this?x

Help a mama out and respond anonymously on our forum. How can I help my daughter with separation anxiety?

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I had/have the same issue its been 3 years in daycare and its still a struggle some mornings. You just have to be persistent and stern I know its hard because it hurts us when our little are sad like that! Some days will always be worse than others.
I actually got my daughter and I matching shoes and told her that when she misses me to just look at her shoes and know that mommy has the same ones and I’m missing her too. Or breaking a popsicle stick in half and we each get one side and keep it in our pockets, then I pick her up we put the broken ends together. I know it sounds silly but it does help us some days!


I’ve worked in mental health most of my life and about 4 years of that was with kids…all of these are great ideas but one of the things we used in therapy was to have something the child knew was important to the parent…maybe a watch the parent wore everyday or mommy’s favorite scrunchy or something and give it to the child to hold on to. Making sure to reiterate “this is very important to mommy so I need you to keep in safe until I come back”. Yes they are the important thing you are coming back for but it helps to have something outside themselves. A lot of kids with separation anxiety seem to also have or develop self esteem issues. Just another thing to try.


My son is on the spectrum. He had separation anxiety bad like that too. They’re scared you’re not coming back… Never sneak away n leave. That’s the worst. Always say bye and reassure you’re coming back as you’re doing. Try not too coddle much. Also, the biggest thing for me was he hadd to stay by door and watch me until I was out of sight , then he’d follow teacher. If tried to make go to class before I was gone … oh no smh. Meltdownn.
Went on a long time too. , but he did eventually stop. I hope youre able to find some useful info in all your comments. My son is grown. but I well remember the struggle and heartache of it all.


I work a lot and have to leave my daughter with various family members and a few friends and she goes to daycare. It’s been this way since she’s been a few months old and she’s not even 2 1/2 now. She doesn’t care if I leave but she does get excited to see me. I’ve worked on this with her from the get because I didn’t want her to form separation anxiety like I’ve seen other children do (I’ve worked with children a lot). Now, when my child isn’t fond of a daycare worker, I can instantly tell. She’s uncomfortable when I drop her off and doesn’t really want me to leave. Maybe look for signs of this? I have a friend that this has happened with for almost a year now and she never put two and two together. when she mentioned it to me, I explained how this could be an issue. It’s being addressed now and she’s switching daycares. Kids get very stressed when the don’t feel nurtured and if they are at daycare and they aren’t given that attention/support, they are going to act out.
Another thing would be to try to let them go somewhere for a few hours at a time throughout the week (other than daycare) and eventually have sleep overs, if applicable, at family members, grandparent, aunts uncles, etc houses. Get them use to being away from you. It’s healthy to separate yourself from you child/children other than leaving them to go to work. Trust me, your kids get sick of you as much as you are exhausted from them!


Not sure if this will help - but I worked in daycare for years so when my son had severe separation anxiety (at age 6)-never had b4 I sent him to counseling and we got
Him a cell phone so he could
Call me at work right b4 school and after - I know ur daughter is much younger so I’m a bit lost- but I learned it’s not always better by doing fast leaves - can you maybe make her a picture book of you and her and other family so that when she is missing you the teacher can let her look through her picture book? It may make it worse but it may give her some
Comfort. My son just needed to know
I was ok

My 2.5 year old would do this to some degree when being dropped at her sitters. I would bring her in the house, often Lingered a bit there, chatting with the sitter etc. When she goes to “school”. We have ZERO meltdowns. The main difference is they get her from my car there. She knows the system, she knows they bring her inside. Not sure if that is even an option for you, but I think that consistent transaction gives her comfort. She looks back. Says “bye mom” and off she goes.

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I work in preschool
Learning center for 30 years now. I had a child on the spectrum (mom in denial) drop off was hard every day for three years until he went to kindergarten and I’m sure he did it then also. I hope he finally got the help he needed. We told mom and dad he needed some extra help made the referrals and mom said in my heart I know there’s nothing wrong. So we couldn’t do anything more for him. He would go to window and scream til he saw her car leave parking lot. She could’ve saved him a lot of anxiety and the teachers also if she would’ve gotten him the help he needed. I felt bad for him. Super smart and sweet kid


My question she only like that when u drop her off at day care or is she like that if u have family member watch her also because if it’s only daycare then something isn’t right there


I don’t know, my daughter did this until she grew out of it. She was happy at her school and would stop crying after about 5 minutes but handing her off was the same every day. Finally she just didn’t do it anymore (took a couple years)


Maybe try having her watch the "Daniel tigers neighborhood " episode “grown ups come back” (I believe its on Amazon prime but probably also youtube) a bunch of times and sing the song from it together once she gets into it :woman_shrugging:t4: I use the angry one with my kids and we sing the song together everytime they get mad until they calm down and are ready to talk.


It may be when after she sees you are gone she cries and then stops. Plan your morning 30 minutes earlier and sit by the door till (without her seeing or hearing you) and wait till she stops crying before you go to work. You will have a better day. Make the exchange quick. Distract her with a toy or leave her holding the teachers hand.


My 2 year old was the same way after I finished my battle with cancer. He would not leave my side, at home or anywhere.

A few things that helped

Going to church and leaving him in Sunday school. It’s such a short amount of time filled with fun and then I would come back after an hour. Getting into a routine of me leaving him in a “daycare” like setting for a short period of time helped a ton.

If you can’t do that, maybe try shorter days at school for
A while to ease him into it.

Also, reading books, in particular llama llama misses mama. My son really resignated with this book. We would talk about it, name the other characters the names of his friends in the classroom, talk about the teacher, we would talk about things he was missing out on because he was sad, and why it would have been better for the llama llama to not be sad, because he KNOWS mama is coming back. However, it is normal to and okay to feel sad too.

Things aren’t perfect, and my son still struggles a little, but it has improved dramatically.


A couple of ideas we do are : having a family picture in the backpack or classroom, having a favorite stuffy for when they’re feeling sad, making a picture schedule so they know what they’re day looks like and when parents will return. :woman_shrugging:t4:Hopefully you find something that works for your child because it’s tough for all involved.


I worked at a daycare and it’s perfectly normal unfortunately… just part of being a kid.


Have you tried mentally preparing her the morning of and while in the car on the way there?
My eldest doesn’t do well with change and likes to know what’s going on at all times. I would make sure he’s mentally ready for his day at breakfast by mentioning where he’s going, at what time, what he has to look forward too etc.
Sometimes I would even hype him up with a treat at the end of the week if he did well with behaving at drop-off. If he was able to go 5 days without throwing a tantrum, we’d go get donuts on Saturday morning and he could pick whatever he wanted.

My daughters preschool has a family tree so when they miss their family they can go look at the picture! I absolutely love the idea because my daughter was the same way!


My son had this in kindergarten, omg what I went threw but I also knew the teacher was no good, so I fought like crazy to make them change his class, after so many protocols, meetings…. I finally was able to change his class and lo and behold the boy anxiety changed overnight, when you know you know something ain’t right…… my advice change the daycare, change the people, change the environment, and talk to her/him something there the kid doesn’t like

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Do you have a friend or family member that might be able to drop her off instead? My son Memphis always had bad separation anxiety & finally in kindergarten I had his dad start dropping him off instead of me & that works best for us. :blush:


I never had that problem. My daughter was more then secure. When she was 2 and a half all the other babies cried and screamed when there mothers were leaving…Mine was holding my hand towards the door and pushing me out…Then she returned to her class mates hugging them patting them on their backs, saying; " Your mommy will be back." I was sad my kid was the only one that didn’t cry for me. …The teacher said you did a good job. she’s secure, and knows you will be back. That (KIND OF) felt better. Be happy she is clingy.

I suffered from separation anxiety as a child. I honestly didn’t get over it until almost high school. Sometimes, things just need to run their course.

My 5 year old just started kindergarten and I thought we were past this behavior, but she reverted back to it.

We took away TV time and made her start playing with her toys by herself. Of course she never truly gets left alone as she has a sibling haha. But be consistent about reinforcing there’s a time and a place and you don’t like how her tantrums make her feel. We talk about our feelings alot in our house. She got over it quickly. Not every method works for every kid. But my daughters only motivation to stop was getting her tv time back. Lol.

Don’t explain: just give her a quick hug and duck out. I know it’s hard to not immediately comfort our kids when they’re upset, but sticking around prolongs the tears and anxiety. As soon as you leave, within 5 minutes they are all smiles and playing like nothing happened.

She may be experiencing emotions too big for her little self
and an inability to regulate them on her own. I’m not sure how you can handle it but it’s a place to start.

I have a few ideas. 1) get her into an activity she likes before leaving if you drop her off, 2) get another adult to drop her off who she’s comfortable with and you pick her up, 3) start “practicing” not at daycare leaving her in the room playing with another adult/child and go just to another room making her more comfortable playing with others without you “there” and then try after a while her having playdates without you and so on. Always ensure she’s engaged in something that she enjoys before you say you’ll see her later and that you love her, if you can even tell her the time you’ll be back it will help solidify that you are coming back :two_hearts::two_hearts: sending positive vibes your way though it can be heartbreaking for both the child and the parents it does get better though.

My mom used to drop my off early at school and would wait until I was distracted to leave :joy: she would just sneak out. At first I would freak out. But after about a week I was fine

Make sure to re read your children’s body language. I did the same at about four years old and told my mom I hated going to my daycare because they were abusing the children but did not listen. Look deeper into the situation first

This is my placemark so I can read advice later when I have time. My 2 year old is either starting daycare or being left with a friend when I start school soon and she has awful separation anxiety :disappointed_relieved:

Is there a way to watch video cameras in the daycare from your phone I definitely would do that and see how she reacts to the teachers. My kid Love school the first day or two and I had to pull him from school yesterday because I found out the reason he doesn’t like school anymore is because the teacher has been putting their hands on him.

Obviously she’s doing that for a reason. That’s not normal at all. You may want to take her to the hospital to make sure she hasn’t been hurt in any way

Ask her what she is scared of…is it somebody? Fear of strangers? Being left alone? Doesn’t feel like she has no friends? Listen to your child

Can you give her something she can hold onto for you while she’s there? Give it to her when you drop her off and ask her to hold it until you come back. A physical reminder of you might help.

Get a picture of her classroom. When you’re getting ready to leave say “ready for school?” And show her the picture. It has helped IMMENSELY with my 3 year old. He would have the biggest meltdowns in the mornings. Now he practically runs out the door. Lol

I bought my kids and I matching bracelets and told them when they miss me or their sibling they can kiss it and we will be able to feel it and kiss them back. My kids are 3 and 5

Give her a bracelet/necklace or really anything and tell her to keep it safe for you until you get back. My middle child was like this and it helped

Sometimes it is separation anxiety and sometimes something is going on and little kids can’t verbalize

Stick to a morning routine. Make drop off swift. The longer you linger the tougher it is. After a week or so of sticking to the routine it will no longer be an issue

Can she bring something of yours, like an article of clothing like a sweater that smells like you with her? My daughter takes one of my sweaters when she goes to her dad’s house.

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We had same problem changed daycare to smaller one no problems there crys way less. I don’t think my son like the staff tbh cus he does at the new one 🤷

My son did this. He would even have to be pulled out of the truck at school. He did it until I started making him ride the bus!!!

How is she you come back how long does it go on how is she while you gone if she get s over I wouldn’t worry

Just make the goodbye routine quick and simple. Mommy has to go to work. Have fun today. I love you. kiss hug and leave. Do not walk back.

You leave her at daycare and walk out the door and let the teachers deal with the child. You pay them to do there job well you go to your own job, don’t feel guilty cause you know you’ll be back at the end

One of them teddy bears u can record voice to helped alot …along with scent

I used to have this severely and I couldn’t hardly go to school or daycare or anywhere

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Theres something not right going on at that daycare…

Like a band aid… She’ll adjust

She wants you… maybe sometimes in life parents should think. My child should come first…

Sounds like it’s a routine. This is how she says good bye. You may try changing the routine. Explain to her, she’s old enough to understand, “we can’t behave that way anymore. You’re a big girl now.” Practice drop off at home. Show her how she’s supposed to behave. When she starts to cry, immediately and firmly tell her no. Remind her of the new special way she’s to say good bye. “See ya later Alligator.” You say, “In a while, Crocodile.” Hugs, kisses, and walk out.


Separation anxiety is hard.

Honestly… My son did the same thing and he’s been at this daycare he’s at for almost 2 years now going on 3. He just turned 4 this year and last year his fits where the worst and i felt terrible but his teacher will tell me he stops about after 10 to 20 minutes. He had to grow out of it himself and now he runs inside forgetting about me. The teachers told me it’s something they have to grow out of sometimes

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Make sure she aint being mistreated mama u never know these days.

I had this same issue as a child. I was a well behaved child but extremely attached to my dad. I remember how it felt when he took me to day care, and later when I started school.
Nobody abused me and I wasn’t a spoiled brat or anything (quite opposite, I was big into rules and structure).

It was loneliness. I can still feel it when I think about them pulling me off my dad. I’d have my arms wrapped around his neck and locked, and my legs around his waist. It took multiple women to pull me off every morning. And I remember how it felt to watch him walk away. They carried me to where the other kids sat and I was so so lonely. Kids tried to play with me or talk to me but I was so filled with sadness I couldn’t play.

After that, my grandma would keep me for my dad. I cried when he left and I’d just lay on the couch all day or sit outside and pet the dog till the end of the day.

And then kindergarten…and first grade…and I just sat silently. Did my work. Followed the rules.

I’m 40 years old now and to this day, if I smell the inside of an elementary school I’m overwhelmed with sadness and loss and loneliness.

I grew out of it at about 9 or 10, I was normal and healthy and happy. I’ve made good choices in life and I’m a mentally healthy and fully functional adult. I’m happily married, I’m a mama, I have a good job…

I was just so lonely without my dad when I was little. He made me feel special and loved and important. It was like… when he left me at daycare or school…he took all my joy with him.

Now as a mama to my own little girl… I’ve seen her struggle the same way I did. I guess it was lucky for her that I was able to understand how she was feeling, but unlucky for me that I knew that when I walked away from her, all her joy came with me.
She never went to daycare or had a baby sitter but once school started I just went to work earlier and had my parents get her ready for school and drop her off.
Shes 10 now, in 5th grade, and she bounces off to school happy and excited to see her friends.

But even now, if I were to be the one to drop her off, there would be tears and she wouldn’t want to let go of me. So maybe see if someone she knows and trusts can come to your house before you leave for work… and then you say your goodbyes at home and the other person drops her off at daycare. That person wont TAKE her joy because that person doesnt HAVE her joy. YOU DO. :purple_heart:

We have done counseling and therapy and at-home therapy. Work books and mental exercises. Everything people have commented here. Nothing worked except time.

9/10 years old, was when I outgrew it and now her too. It’s an age where you start latching on more to friends and common interests with peers. Maybe that’s it, maybe that’s what returns some of the joy and combats the loneliness.

There is nothing wrong with your daughter, you’re just her Happy Place, and when you leave you take the Happy with you. She WILL find it in others as she gets older. In friends and activities. Just… hug her more when you get home. Do an activity just the two of you. Listen to her and laugh at her silliness. That brings all the joy back.

Long story short… you’re the mama and she loves her mama. :purple_heart::purple_heart::purple_heart:
She may just have to grow out of it.

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Former daycare teacher: leave her with a snack, it helps.

My daughter is 8 and still won’t fall asleep without me.
When someone figures it out please let me know


Mine didn’t stop until he was 4.

Wow, I immediately think something bad is happening to her!!! Does this daycare have cameras?!

A piece of cloth with ur scent perfume calmed my grandbaby

Maybe something is making her anxious at that location

I would try to have her see a counselor

But is she fine after you leave?

Just sounds like bratty spoilt behaviour.

I’m not sure how helpful it will be with behavior but I always BAWLED when my family left me at preschool. We read this book and it helped me a lot. I still think about this book sometimes even. :purple_heart:


Or maybe, just maybe, your kid needs her mother. Crazy, I know. Kids are like that. They aren’t things to drop off to FedEx.


She does it because you’re mom. It’s not separation anxiety. It’s a 3 year old being a 3 year old. Just like saying goodbye to your dog when you leave the house, make it quick and do not a big deal out of it.


A year and a half and no change in this behavior?? I would be removing my child from that daycare immediately!!! Something isnt right!!! Big huge red flag being swung in your direction…something is wrong.


Sadly it’s just going to take time but she’ll get there. Keep being patient . Draw her little pictures each day and tell her that they are special pictures to take with her and tell her every time she’s sad to look at the special pic that you drew her and it will make her feel better. Something like that. Spray them with your perfume too. Also you can practice with her by dropping her off at your parents house or friends house just when you have to run an errand or grocery shopping or something.

Speak to an administrator and arrange for someone to come take her by the hand and then you wave and blow kisses and walk out the door. Then keep doing it. When you come back to get her, be SO SO excited to see her and remind her how well she did that morning, and that you’re going to keep doing it that way. Kids usually only act like for their parents.

Be consistent in the routine of saying good bye and what time she is picked up, if you can’t be make w schedule with friends and family for an EXACT time, look her in the eye and say I love you, mom is always going to come back and get you, I love you, have a good day, bye baby, and go don’t sneak out, don’t drag it out and reaffirm, hey how was your day, told your momma will pick you up :kissing_heart::kissing_heart::kissing_heart: