As performing arts teachers we get a privileged vantage point from which to observe human behaviour at the best of times, but none more so than at…. the drop off. How you drop your child off at their holiday club can have a huge effect on how they perceive us and either contribute to or detract from their ability to settle in and enjoy the day. Here are some of the door-drop personality types we see on a regular basis and some advice on a better way to deal with the drop off.
The at the door interrogator
We get it, you don’t know us. You’re dropping off your most beloved and having to trust that we know what we are doing and that no harm will come to your child.
Here’s the thing though: waiting until you get to the door, holding your child’s hand, before you start to question us on our qualifications for looking after children is perhaps not the best way for a number of reasons.
We are trying to mark the children on the register and get them into the class as efficiently as possible. By blocking the door, you are causing other parents to be late for work, other children to become anxious, and most upsetting of all, you are sending a very confusing signal to your child! If you come at me with a bunch of questions about how exactly I’ll be taking care of your little one – teacher/ child ratios, break times, DBS certificates, where we take our breaks and so on, you are sending a message to your child that you are not comfortable leaving them with us. Your child picks up on your concern and stress. You may as well tell them straight: “I’m leaving you here all day with these people, but I don’t trust them and neither should you.” Seriously. Usually what happens is we answer your questions to your satisfaction and then you leave, but your child isn’t able to turn it around that quick and the feeling of the drop-off interrogation stays with them causing them to feel unsafe and abandoned.
Why not take the time to ask your questions – all of which are welcome – before the day of the course? Check out our FAQ page, email us or give us a call. We want you to feel that you know us a little bit if that helps you feel safe. That way, you can drop off your child on the first day feeling confident that you are doing the right thing: you trust us to look after your child because you’ve had any questions answered. That will allow your child to feel that you are relaxed about your decision which allows them to view us as trusted teachers who are there to help them, not as strangers who they’ve been dumped with!
You love your child and your child loves you. That’s a given! But sometimes you need a little reassurance. What we see is that your child is so excited to get into class that they say bye and rush in, full of beans, to greet their new friends and start their fun day. But you feel a little deflated because you need one last cuddle, so you call your child back to the door. Your child wants to please you more than anything in the world. Children are pleasing machines: trust me! So now your child will give you exactly what they think you want, they pretend to be shy and snuggle into you, cling to you, even, to show you how much you are loved. You’re satisfied so you put them down and send them in, but they are’t sure now of the best way to please you, so they grip onto you and want one last kiss and look sad that you’re leaving.
Your child was happy and care-free, but now they are heavy with missing you and you haven’t even gone yet. You’ve pulled them back out of their day and caused them to yoyo in and out of emotions.
Please just let the child run in! They will give you a super big cuddle when you come to pick them up later.
It’s not a great situation to be in: I really understand. You’re trying to drop your child off for a class and they are having a meltdown at the thought of being left with us.
In all my many years of leading classes for children I’ve only ever met one who didn’t settle down and stop crying within 5 minutes of the parent leaving. Even that little one only took 10 minutes and a special colouring book to bring him around.
It’s very tempting to feel like it would be better if you came into the class and sit with your child. “I’ll just come in for ten minutes.” you say and in you come to sit in the circle with your child. Your child clings to you for ten minutes and then as soon as you want to leave they kick off again and we are back to square one, except now we have added problems: now your child will have a hard job trusting us because you didn’t trust us at the door; the other children in the class are on edge because to them, you’re just another stranger in the room who they weren’t expecting and our morning is quickly becoming about your child’s melt down and not the performing arts class that every one, including your child, has signed up for!
Children are copy cats. If one parent comes in for a while because their child cries, no matter how genuine and plaintive the tears, we will be faced with a few copy cat criers the following day who want to test to see if they can get “special” treatment.
Here’s an alternative. No matter how bad the melt down, hand the child over to one of us. We’ve seen it all before, tears and screaming don’t phase us and we can remain calm: which is exactly what a distressed child needs. By being loving and firm with your child they get a clear message: “You are safe here”. That’s the message they need. We will reassure them that you are coming back and use every time tested method at our disposal to calm your child down and integrate them into the class quickly. If you are nervous or think it won’t work, by all means stay close: sit in the car or at a nearby cafe and we will call you really soon to tell you that your child is settled in. We can usually send you a snapshot within the hour of your child giggling with their new friends. And while we’re never had to yet, if you are close, we can call you to come and collect your child if they really aren’t calming down. You need to give them that chance though. Coming into the room just delays the inevitable.
At Applause! we are committed to helping children be as confident and comfortable in their own skins as possible. We may only see your child for 5 days out of the year, but we intend to make a positive difference. So thanks for reading. We really appreciate it and look forward to seeing you at the door soon.