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The Changing Of The Guard: “Bye Bye Outside”

The Changing Of The Guard: “Bye Bye Outside”

I call the dynamic of bad behavior at drop off and pick up “Changing of the Guard” behavior. It is seen primarily in children who are in charge of the relationship with their parents. It is seen in children who are more powerful than their parents and parents who want their child to be powerful/happy/special/ more than they want the child to have good public and interpersonal relationships. The parent does not want the child to cry so outbursts of obviously inappropriate behavior are acceptable to the parent as long as the child does them without crying and is happy. The harshest discipline used for these kids is “corporal coddling.”

Changing of the guard behavior at drop off is when the child goes from being in power/control while in the care of his parents to the provider being in power/control while in the care of the provider. The child cries or acts out because they do not want to relinquish their control. They don’t want the control to go to the provider so they delay the transfer of power by acting out.

They also want the provider to see that they are in control because arrivals and departures are the only opportunity the child has to make it clear to the provider that they are in control. As soon as the door closes behind the parent, the child loses that really powerful position as their power supply has just backed up out the driveway.

At pickups again the child realizes that once their power supply (parents) have arrived that they are back into power. They see that the parent again gives them the kingdom and you the provider aren’t stopping them from taking over. They are used to the provider being the leader all day long so they know something is terribly wrong when you all of a sudden stop leading.

All the kid sees is two adults who are not making him stop and demanding he behave properly in public. He has no choice to become the leader because the adults around him are not doing it. He loves to be the leader but unfortunately is ill equipped for the job as he is just a child. Children should never lead adults. Children should never lead themselves or other children. They are terribly inadequate leaders. When they are allowed the job of leader, the entire time they are in that role everything falls apart. Everyone is unhappy and nothing works out well.

The parent is often misbehaving at the drop off and pick up too. The parent knows when their child is behaving badly in public. They know how the adults around them look when their child is acting up. They can feel the negative energy and exhausted energy from the adults around their child’s public display of bad behavior. They know the provider hates it but they don’t take over. They don’t put a stop to it.

The parents often feel the provider works for them and because they are paying the provider that the provider should just have to deal with this witnessing of poor behavior. The parent doesn’t care if it upsets you, your other day care kids, or your kids. They are paying you and you better get to toleration quick or they will scoot on out your business.

The parent may have some other motivations for allowing it too. They may want the child to hang out at the day care before they go to work and after they are off of work because they are trying to get the kid off of their clock for as long as possible. There are certain segments of parent population who allow misbehavior at drop off and pick up as a stall technique to keep the child at day care longer. These are the ones that allow a wide breadth of time for their kid to be in care when they really only need nine hours. These parents will often pick providers with open hours so the parent can use time before work and after work to be at the provider’s house with the kid because they don’t want to be home with the kid by themselves any longer than they have to.

The provider is in a bad situation too. She doesn’t like the changing of the guard behavior. She wants the child to behave as he does when she is leading him. She feels she can’t discipline kids in front of their parent. She knows she wouldn’t want someone disciplining her kids in front of her so she sits back praying to Jesus that the parent put the kibosh on this and take over.

She also knows that it’s a pretty touchy deal to start disciplining the kid especially at pick up time. She could offend the parent and the parent could pull the kid. She really wants the kid to leave so she can get on with her own family so she doesn’t want to do anything to get prolong it.

So now you have the perfect storm. The child is being bombarded with badly behaving adults … adults who are not being true to their feelings… adults who will not do whatever it takes to show the child that the child can never lead in their presence….

…and a child who is begging for calm stable minute-to-minute leadership

I don’t have this dynamic in my day care because I do not ever allow a child to lead in my home. I don’t allow them to lead me or lead their parents. From the second the kid hits the inside of my house they are being led by me. I don’t leave the leadership up to the parents. I’m glad when I have ones that do lead but I’m the leadingest leader no matter what.

If a child is acting up at arrivals and departures despite my insistence that I be the leader then I institute the “Buh Bye Outside” program. This is where the parent says good bye to the child outside my door at drop off and does not come into the house. At pick up I say good bye to the child inside the house and send them out the door and the parent does not come in the house.

Both arrival and departure the child does not see the parent and I together. The parent brings the child to my door in the morning and says their goodbyes on my front step. They have as long as they want to say goodbye. They can spend an hour there if that’s what they need. Once the parent knocks on my door, then that is the signal that they are completely done saying goodbye.

I open the door and just take the child over my threshold and shut the door very quickly. That makes the transition very short for the kid. This allows the parent to be the only adult tolerating the child’s bad behavior. This takes away the audience for the child and parents bad behavior. This takes away the element of “you have to put up with my prince/princesses behavior because I am the boss of you and I pay you.”

At departure the parent is to call me within five minutes of the arrival and we do the same thing in reverse. As soon as the parent arrives on my doorstep I open it up and assist the kid back over the threshold and quickly shut my door.

Rinse and repeat.

It usually takes about three days of the buh bye outside program to get both the parent and child to behave. By the third day the parent is bored out of their mind standing outside with their kid. The kid realizes that there isn’t an audience for his behavior and the message that any time he is around the provider the provider is in charge is not broken or challenged.

I can always tell when we are ready to start integrating them back into the house by the decrease in the kids fit. I watch them thru the window. When the kid just comes and stands at my doorway looking at the door then I know it’s time to start letting them ease their way back into saying goodbye inside the house.

I start by allowing it at drop off but if the child causes any chaos they go back to saying good bye outside immediately. If drop off goes well for a few days then we try the inside departure. The slightest hint that the kid is going to act up and we go back to just doing the departure outside.

It’s very important for the provider to take charge of the entire time the child is in your home. If you allow the parents to be the leader you will very often find that they won’t do it. There are a lot of parents who feel that their child should lead because they are special and they are theirs. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find parents who believe that they should always lead and that it is an embarrassment and a shame for their child to behave poorly around the day care.

It is an embarrassment and a shame that kids behave badly in public. We are their public. The only way to get the whole cycle to stop in my experience is to completely take charge of the entire thing. I don’t allow any misbehavior when they are in my home. I don’t hesitate in any way to discipline the children when they are under my roof. I don’t give a flip whether their parents are here or not. The children never see my behavior change when their parents arrive. I don’t act differently to the child when the parent is here. I’m just as strict with my expectations whether the parent is there or not.

I don’t allow parents to misbehave in my house. If they do not seize control of their kid and despite my interjections the kids are still acting up then they are not allowed the privilege of doing arrivals and departures inside my home. Once the parent and child lose the privilege of arrivals and departures inside they very quickly get bored of the ridiculous behavior and start behaving…both the parent and the child start behaving.

Bottom line is stop allowing the kid and the parent to misbehave on your property. Your house – your rules for everybody. Be the leader the child and parent need you to be. Be the leader every second of the time you have them in your home.

When you lead they will follow and peace will be yours.

  1. CatHerder03-13-11

    Tried and true!! I have been doing the Buy-Bye Outside technique for about 10 years. now. It really sets the tone for the day and shortens the emotional transition for both parent and child.

    As soon as that door closes the kids hang up their coats and run to the playroom to see what is set up for the morning circle time. No tears, no pressure for Mom, Dad, child or me.

    I would have loved to have been taught this in my first days, could have saved me several years of morning dread…. You have a way of bringing it all together in a completely understandable way. Putting theory to a plan of action is most often easier said than done. Thanks Nannyde for sharing!!!

  2. Char03-16-11

    I totally agree with this read, I’ve never heard of the technique but it makes total sense.

  3. StrictMom04-28-11

    Great Advice! Absolutely eliminates the lunacy of children acting out for mom but behaves for provider. I always hate on pick up, my orderly behaved daycare kids turn into fit throwing monsters when their mom walks in. This is such a great solution. Thanks

  4. WDMMOM05-20-11

    I think that some parents would get the impression that this type of pick-up/drop-off technique is rude.

    I’d love to try it but I have parents that would probably find it offensive it I opened my door, let the kid in, and closed the door without so much as a word to the parent.

    • torifees05-20-11

      I see what you are saying but it’s not for forever. It’s just for the time it takes to transition the kid back into good behavior during drop off and pick up. Usually takes about three days… maybe a week or so.

  5. Terri VH06-12-11

    at my is my rules until the door closes behind you or when you get into the car if we are outside. i have put kids in time out with parents there…a few times of that and the kids get the picture. i have it written in my policy if the child breaks the policies, they will get time out, and i ask for the parents cooperation. never had a negative comment

  6. Barbara07-16-11

    Wonderful advice. I actually do this with my own grandchildren! When my daughter comes to get them they become unbearable. I began taking them home or meeting her outside to avoid having to put up with prolonged chaos. Well written and ALL parents should read this – confirms what I had figured out myself! Thank you for so eloquently writing this!

  7. Beth09-29-11

    Amazing! It does seem rude to be so blunt at the door with parents, but it is far more ill-mannered to behave with disrespect in someones home, business, or anywhere!
    It also shows parents what little effort it will take to make their misbehaving child come around.

  8. Tammy Nichols10-03-11

    Thank you so much for this information. I thought this behavior was parent/child related. I also thought (doubting myself) it was that I was keeping him in line too much during the day and when his mom came it was like “I am is here and I can do what I want to do”. I do believe we are both saying the same thing. Please give your input anyone. Again thank you I will share with with mom and implement “Buy Bye”

  9. ANN10-15-11

    Man I love this idea. Your description fits many situations at my home daycare with one particular Mom. I am going to try this!

  10. Melissa11-18-11

    I think this is a Great idea! I have a few kids that are great at drop-off, but terrible at pick-up. They don’t want to leave with there parents ever… Wondering if you have a letter witten to give to parents regarding this program that would explain the reason I would want to try this?

  11. joy11-28-11

    It is referred to as “mistaken” behavior. You use the word bad often. Children are certainly able to take the lead in certain situations. It is when we don’t provide them with opportunities to lead and succeed, and have programs totally teacher directed, when children display behaviors and lack the ability to use self-control. If we don’t honor them and respect them, they will react negatively. Give them the tools to be successful, competent, compassionate individuals and promote self-esteem, these tools will have an enormous impact on how they behave, as research indicates.

    • torifees11-28-11

      I’m not referring to behavior that is a mistake. I’m referring to behavior that is intentional by the parent, the child, or both child and parent. If a child makes a mistake then this technique would not work. I’m specifically giving a technique for when the child or parent behaves badly during arrivals and departures.

  12. Kathy07-12-13

    basically you are saying it means that I am in charge, I agree MY house, MY rules, and as long as you are in MY house you and your child will obey!! I don’t hesitate to correct a child in front of their parents…you don’t talk back to adults…you don’t go outside without your parents, etc.

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