How to Deal with Your Kid’s First Day of School Meltdown

Dear Kid Whisperer,
My youngest child will be entering kindergarten in August. He has two older sisters. Both times that I dropped his sisters off for kindergarten, they threw huge tantrums. It was really embarrassing and I want to avoid this situation with my youngest. He, too had a screaming, crying fit last year when I dropped him off for the first day of pre-kindergarten. I know it’s coming. How do I avoid it?
Selena, Los Angeles, CA


You can’t.

You simply cannot avoid your kid having a temper tantrum when you drop him off on the first day of school.

So don’t try. Why would you? There is no reason to stress about this and there is no reason to try to avoid it. As long as you follow the easy steps that I will share with you here, you can create a situation where there will be only two outcomes for dropping your kid off for the first day of kindergarten, and they are both very positive. Either:

1) Your kid will happily join the activity that is happening in the room, or

2) Your kid will lose his mind, scream and yell, and make puddles of tears and slobber on the floor of the classroom.

Either way, your kid will learn that although you love him very much, you are not going to always be there to hold his hand through every experience in which he is uncomfortable. Now, you may have been teaching him this already throughout his life, although after your description of your other kids and this kid throwing tantrums on first days of school, I doubt it. Don’t feel guilty about this. You and your kids are probably victims of “parenting expert” mumbo jumbo that tells parents to always sit and be present for kid’s tantrums. Of course parents who engage in this ridiculousness are likely to have kids who use throwing a tantrum to try to get their parents to stay.
Regardless, it doesn’t matter. Either you have taught them the aforementioned lessons about life or you will have to teach them to your kid on this first day of kindergarten. Here is how I would rip the band-aid off this August with your kid.

(While driving to school)
Kid Whisperer: I am so excited for your first day. I will be dropping you off in your classroom. I’m going to give you one hug and one kiss and then I will be leaving the building and going to work. At that point you can be a big boy and do what your new classmates are doing, or you can throw a fit. Either way I will be leaving after one hug and kiss.

While walking into the building, Kid decides to throw a pre-emptive fit as he falls on the ground and cries.

Kid Whisperer: Oh, no. Would you like to walk to the classroom or fly there?

Kid continues to scream.

Kid Whisperer: Oh, no. Well, flying it is.

Kid Whisperer picks up Kid and walks into Kid’s classroom.

Kid Whisperer: Hello, Mrs. Johnson. You remember Kid. OK, honey. I love you. Have a great day. I will miss you. I’ll see you after school.

Kid Whisperer hugs Kid and finds a dry spot on his face to kiss Kid. Kid Whisperer then quickly walks out of the room and out of the building as if he has stolen Kid’s teacher’s cell phone. If necessary, Kid Whisperer closes the classroom door behind him as he leaves.

You love your son very much and this will be as hard for you as it is for him. No one wants to watch their kid suffer, but this growth through struggle is a tough but necessary part of growing up.