We have a two and a half year old boy, and another child is on the way. My husband is compelled to go abroad for a number of months, and we decided to put our son in a daycare center in order to make things easier on me. I explained to him that at present, while daddy is away, it will help me a lot if he would go willingly to his daycare center. Nevertheless, he cries continuously there. I am virtually torn apart inside because it might not be good for him to be there. Should I persist, or go back to keeping him at home with me all day? Answer:
One of the wonderful things about childrearing is that according to a child's responses we can identify our own problems. By being wise enough to look at ourselves through their eyes we are able to improve ourselves. As you noted, your son is very bright, and he senses things that you are not aware of. The first principle of child education is to make decisions and stick to them and not to leave any room for uncertainty.
When a child senses that his mother is not completely comfortable with a decision, he understands that the decision is not a very good one. The child reads the picture very accurately. When your son began crying the first time - a completely natural response when children begin attending daycare - he could sense that you were not sure that this was a good place for him to be. And if this is your feeling, well then the child feels it ten times more. He intensifies his weeping and your doubts deepen.
When you send him to a daycare center, you must know and feel that this is the best possible place for him: He is together with other children his age, there is a nursery maid who sees to all of their needs, etc. These are the points that cause you to feel completely satisfied with his attending daycare. You have to hug him and part with him with a kiss, full of confidence that in a number of minutes he will stop crying. The child senses your calm even when you are at home and he is in the daycare center.
Your question contains another matter that should be addressed. You write that you explained to your son that he must attend daycare in order to make things easier for you. However, at his age he still thinks only about himself. He will go to daycare happily if you tell him that it is the best thing for him - because at home he has no friends but at daycare he has many friends.
When you tell him that he is going in order to lighten your load he becomes offended. He feels as if his presence bothers you, and this is difficult to take, even for a small child. In addition, you have essentially given him the responsibility of being Mom's helper. You require him to understand that you are alone at home, without your husband, and you want him to accept the responsibility of helping you - by going to daycare.
In summary, change your way of thinking on these three points: first, be resolute in your decision to send your son to daycare; second, explain to him and to yourself that this is the best thing for him - not you; third, do not give him responsibility before he is ripe enough to accept it. If you follow this path, I am certain that in a number of days your son will go joyfully to daycare.