Dear Kid Whisperer,
I am having a problem with my four year old. In the last few months, he has started to refuse to leave the daycare when I come to pick him up. He never did this before. I am concerned that this behavior might be due to some problems that his father and I have been having. I’m not sure. No matter what I say, I can’t convince him to leave with me unless I bribe him, which I don’t want to do. How do I get him to leave with me without refusal and without a temper tantrum? –Morgan, Grosse Point, Michigan
Good news. Your son isn’t refusing to leave because of any psychological turmoil being caused by issues at home. Your son is refusing to leave the daycare because you have apparently taken leave of your senses. He is refusing to leave because he doesn’t have to.
My daughter tried this on me at my gym’s daycare once.
I’ll just show you how I dealt with her refusal to leave, word for word and step by step. This is exactly how it happened.
Kid Whisperer: I am here for my daughter.
Gym Daycare Worker: OK, I’ll go get her.
Gym Daycare Worker goes into the play area, leaving me at the desk, to get my daughter. Gym Daycare Worker comes back, seemingly distressed.
Gym Daycare Worker (as if she is my daughter’s executive assistant): I’m sorry, but she says that she doesn’t want to leave.
Kid Whisperer: No problem. May I come back and have a word with her?
Gym Daycare Worker: Sure.
Kid Whisperer walks back to the play area, and does not break stride while approaching his daughter.
Kid Whisperer: Hi, hon. Would you like to walk out of here with me or would you like to fly out of here?
Kid: I don’t wa-
Kid Whisperer picks up Kid, turns around and heads out the door.
Kid Whisperer (singing): I believe I can fly… I believe I can touch the sky… (to the daycare staff) Goodnight everybody!
Kid screams at the top of her lungs because of the injustice that she is currently suffering.
It took me a grand total of 20 seconds to permanently teach my daughter that I am in charge and that her personal timetable for whether and when she leaves a location is completely irrelevant. “We are going” means we are going now.