Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Softy vs The Hard-ass

Little C is in transition mode at the moment and it isn't pretty. One thing we've determined about our little
man is how hard transitions are for him. No matter how big or small, if his routine is disrupted he is not a happy camper.

Currently he has been moved to the "big boy" room at daycare. He is now in a room with the "older two's" and the "younger three's." We are told he has been moved up because 1) his potty training is going very well and 2) he has become bored in the current room and due to his advanced vocabulary and learning skills he should move up. 

Of course we were beyond proud when we heard this and we were super excited for him to make the switch. Initially, he was excited too! They would start taking him to the new room for a couple hours at a time before one day they told us he'd be there all day. The first couple of days were a snap and he was excited to be there. Show and tell didn't hurt the situation and you could tell he liked the idea of being a "big boy." 

Then it really hit him that he would no longer be going to his old room that he had grown to love and along with it, the teachers and friends he had grown to love as well. He is only one of two kids moving up at the moment but the rest will join him as soon as the potty training piece is in place. Of course, C doesn't understand this and now the "big boy room" is not looking like much fun.

Starting last week we've had nothing but major meltdowns at daycare drop-off. It starts while we are still at home as he knows we are on our way to school and he immediately begins asking if he can go to his old room. Then we get to school and he begs to help me get Baby Sis situated before he has to go to his class. He of course stalls after getting Sis situated by insisting that he needs to give her one more hug after the 56 he's already given her.

Then the fun happens...

He starts walking toward his old room and I tell him he has to keep going to the "big boy room." Sometimes it's just crying. Some days it's crying complete with a dramatic body drop to the floor. But my all time favorite is probably the crying, followed by screaming "I DON'T WANNA", the dramatic body drop to the floor, and as the teachers are peeling his frantic body from the cold ground, he starts reaching out for me and begs "MAMA COME BACK."

It's like when we switched daycares all over again. Every day a battle and every day he is left crying and I leave him with such a terrible feeling in my gut. It is a feeling of confliction.

You see, on one hand I know that his little two year old brain can't grasp the fact that it is exciting to be considered a big boy and that this is a new adventure. A new room, new teachers and new friends. He doesn't understand that his buddies from his old room aren't too far behind him and soon he'll settle right back into routine.

I want to be the type of mom who lets him express his feelings and attempts to help him sort them out. I want him to feel validated for being anxious, nervous, and upset about changing rooms. I want him to feel comfortable expressing these feelings...

To an extent.

I only have so much of this "type of mom" in me before I'm ready to shift. There comes a point when I am over the coddling, because things aren't getting better and I want to snap into hard-ass. I want to tell him enough is enough! You are a big boy so it's time to act like one. Stop crying, pick your self up off the damn floor and suck it up! You think this is hard? Just wait until shit really ramps up buddy, what are you going to do then?

Of course I'm being dramatic and I would never talk to my two year old that way, but I am also being honest. I don't know how to draw the line between recognizing and validating his feelings to getting him to realize this transition is taking place whether he likes it or not and the sooner he's on board the better! For all parties involved.

So here are my questions: In an example like this daycare room transition should I be the softy and coddle or is it time for tough love? When is it important to let him feel all the things and when is it important to teach him that life ain't easy kid?!?! Lastly, did I already do damage by being the softy in the beginning of this transition and now that I'm ready to get tough, will it just make him more upset?

Oof. There is so much grey area with this parenting gig. At least I know this is a phase and it won't last forever. I only bring all of this up because I also know this won't be the last transition in his life and if he gets this worked up every single time, then I want to be able to help him as best I can. Whether I'm a softy or a hard-ass. 


  1. Personally, I think the answer is somewhere in the middle. I'm normally big-time softie, but with daycare dropoff, I knew from the beginning I had to be loving but firm and consistent. Daddy drops Munch off mostly and mostly it's okay; if I have to drop him off, there are almost always tears. I mostly don't look at him as he sits crying in his seat. Sometimes, I know it will be better for him if I just walk out without a kiss; other times, I do kiss him. But I never linger--I never explain I'll be back or why he has to stay. He knows. And of course I call an hour later and he recovered immediately and he is playing fine. He gets over it, and it'll only be drawn out if I coddle or try to get him to understand. So I just leave and know that he'll get it.

    Maybe switch up the routine? Carry him straight to big-boy room even before Little Sis?

    1. I tried taking him to the room first only once but maybe I should stick with it. I told him Sis wanted to see what his room looked like and she wanted him to show her all his cool toys. He didn't buy it. A friend suggested that we come up with a routine for getting him into the class so that I say the exact same things, do the exact same things every morning regardless of his reactions in an attempt to provide him with a semblance of what he is familiar with. I know it will click for him one of these days but it's just so hard until that happens! Thanks for you help!

    2. It's so hard, and it certainly makes for a stressful start to the day! We're having car issues, so we dropped off together again this morning. Yesterday, there was major crying for mommy. This morning, when I took him out of the carseat, I told him, "Now Mommy has to take you into school, so no crying. I have to sit you in your chair, so no crying." And, no tears. No idea if my prep talk had any effect--another little girl was rolling and screaming in the corner as her mom left. He may have been distracted by that. And the girl's mom was definitely on the harder side (this girl is the youngest of three, haha). She was like, "Are you done? Let's go." And she stopped crying and sat down, though still wimpering. I think this is just the age. Both Munch and this girl have been in the same room for months.

  2. We had the same thing happen with this latest transition to a new preschool. Tears and tons of hugs every morning. We let this go on for about a week and then ended up, ah hem, doing a little bribery. My mom, who dropped her off, said that if she dried her tears she should take her to the splash park after school. What do ya know, the tears dried up and off she went to play with her friends. She hasn't cried since. :)

    1. Oh, we try this every time. It is not working. We've tried to offer treats (a favorite snack, a favorite TV show, etc) and it doesn't work. So then we tried threatening to take privileges and treats away... doesn't work. It is a great idea for sure but it isn't getting through to him on this go-round. Thanks for the help!