How to Handle a Kid Who Causes a Scene at Daycare

Dear Kid Whisperer,

My three-year-old and my mother had a bad moment last week. My mom, who loves her granddaughter more than life itself, picked her up from daycare and my daughter, who does love her grandma, yelled at her and said she didn’t want to go with her. My mom was embarrassed and heartbroken. She didn’t know what to do. There was a big scene that lasted a while before everyone worked together to get my daughter to go with her grandmother. My mom is worried that it will happen again, and I don’t know what to tell her to do, so I’m asking you. What do I do? Alice, Nelsonville, Ohio

Dear Alice,

It never ceases to amaze me how often adults have Bad Ideas and how often adults forget Obvious Facts. Here is a Bad Idea that I worry your mother might have:

“I should always try to make my granddaughter happy.”

Here’s an Obvious Fact that I am concerned that your mother might have forgotten:

“I am bigger and stronger than my granddaughter.”

The problem is that when adults have this Bad Idea and forget this Obvious Fact, they often create kids who have a Destructive Belief:

“I can do whatever I want, and it is the job of adults to appease me.”

If enough kids believe this, it will be the end of society, but that’s a discussion for another time. For now, let’s just show your mom how to not have her Bad Idea, and to help her remember this Obvious Fact in order to make sure your kid doesn’t have this Destructive Belief. Here’s how I would do all of this while picking up your daughter from daycare. You can do this, too.

Kid Whisperer (to daycare people): Hello, I’m here to pick up Kid.


Kid Whisperer: Oh, shucks (while smiling and walking next to Kid). What would you prefer: would you like to walk to the car, or would you like to fly there?

Kid: What on earth do you mean?

Kid Whisperer: Flying it is (Kid Whisperer picks up child under her arms as Kid emits a high-pitched shrieking sound).

Kid Whisperer: Oh, shucks (Kid Whisperer walks kid to car as flailing is added to shrieking).

Kid Whisperer: Oh, shucks (Kid Whisperer puts Kid in car seat and, gently and firmly straps in Kid).

Kid Whisperer: Oh, shucks (Kid Whisperer drives the car away as Kid continues to shriek and flail).

If you are wondering, Kid Whisperer is saying “Oh, shucks” so he doesn’t swear at a toddler.

Doing this will allow Kid to learn that the adult in question loves her, can handle her calmly, and that the adult specifically, and authority figures in general, are in charge.