What I Learned When My Strong-Willed Kid was Kicked Out of Daycare


What I learned when my strong-willed kid was kicked out of daycare

As a working mom, choosing childcare is probably one of the most important, if not THE most important, decisions you make when returning to work. From nannies to mother’s day out programs, finding the situation that offers the right fit for your family can be a daunting, frustrating and exhausting search. I appreciate Metro Family Magazine‘s breakdown of childcare options for closely looking at the pros and cons for each different childcare situation.

When I returned to work last summer, we were able to put our children in an intimate, in-home childcare setting. They shared the home with two other children in the beginning (the caregiver’s children), and a third child was added a few months later. They were able to stay in their PJs if they wanted to, they had the nurture and informality of a home environment. Their caregiver read stories and made crafts with them. It was a (seemingly) perfect setup.

My strong-willed kid struggled with the new daycare situation. She experienced several changes in the span of about six months: she got a younger brother, we moved cities and mom went back to work for the first time since she was born. Not to mention, she was developmentally entering the threes – which is notoriously worse than the terrible twos. Her emotions often overwhelm her and she reacts as a strong-willed, emotionally-immature toddler normally reacts. She’s not violent or aggressive. She just has big feelings that she doesn’t always know how to process without the right hand caring for her and guiding her.

We knew she was struggling, but we didn’t think it was that bad. We would regularly get reports from our daycare provider that she had a “rough” day, she had trouble listening or didn’t play well with the other kids, but we never thought it was an expellable offense. Which is why it was like a bomb drop when we were told our childcare contract was terminated because of her strong-willed behavior.

When I had to sign the termination agreement, my heart sank. If you’ve ever had a child who’s been kicked out of anything – school, daycare or whatever – I’m sure you’ve experienced the same thoughts I did. What am I doing wrong?  What is wrong with my child? Wrong was the word that kept coming to mind. There must be something wrong with her. There must be something wrong with our parenting. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

I was an emotional wreck that night. I just knew somehow we had failed our daughter. She was only 3, but yet somehow we had already broken her irreparably because she was being kicked out of daycare at 3 years old.

Over the last month since our strong-willed kid was kicked out daycare, we’ve had lots of discussions evaluating what our priorities are and whether we are making the best decisions for our family. We even discussed that I would quit work and return to staying at home. However, we found a solution that we are confident will be a good fit for everyone. Through the recommendation of a high school friend who is also a Childcare Director, we found a church Child Development Center which actually had immediate openings for both of our kiddos.

Today, our children start their new “school.” I’m nervous and excited for them. I want them to enjoy it and to thrive. I’m praying for good things to come from this new situation. So much of the last month has been filled with doubt and fear, wondering if we’re failing at this parenting thing and if we’re doing what’s best for our family. As I’ve been praying through this situation over the last few weeks, God brought me to Psalm 56 in my quiet time, and verse 9 leaped into my heart: “This I know, that God is for me.” Realizing that God is for you is the antidote to fear. Knowing that God is for me calms my anxious thoughts. Realizing that God is for my children gives me peace about today.

That is my biggest takeaway from this parenting crisis. God is for my children, and he loves them even more than I do. He created them and he gave them each their unique personality, including my daughter’s strong will. I’m thankful for the blessing of knowing them and parenting them.

Have you ever faced a parenting crisis?




10 thoughts on “What I Learned When My Strong-Willed Kid was Kicked Out of Daycare

  1. Aww, that is tough! I have one much younger sister who was an extremely strong-willed toddler, and to this day we tell stories of her tantrums and general toddler insanity. She turned out just fine, although she retains her fierce personality, she’s one of my favorite people and she will go far in life. Someday, years from now, the ‘kicked out of daycare’ story will be one to tell and laugh over the distant memories. To give another example, my husband loves to tell kids that he flunked kindergarten and had to repeat it. Must have been pretty sad and disappointing for the family at the time (he didn’t speak any English when he started kindergarten the first time, which makes his lack of success completely understandable), but flunking and having to repeat the year certainly didn’t damage him any, since it’s turned into one of his favorite stories from childhood.

    1. I agree that this will be a story we tell at family dinners for years to come! And yes, strong personality types tend to succeed in life, so I’m hoping this will pay dividends later.

  2. So many transitions are bound to create big emotions, especially at that age! Our daughter at 10 months is learning how to throw tantrums. So far she is great in Bible class and the church nursery, though one of our youth group girls commented, “The word I would use to describe Rebekah would be determined.” And, yes it is very true. I may need to start praying over her toddler years now. . . .

  3. Oh wow! This was such a great post! Every kid is different and needs different things. I work as a nanny and have worked with many families and many children. I am nannying another young three year old much like your daughter. In my opinion, it’s an oldest child thing. I am the oldest of five. But through childcare I have seen that those controlling stereotypes of the oldest child seem to kick in the day the second child is born! hehehe! He’s a new big brother and so we have a lot of talks about the best way to act when he feels angry or sad, etc. And I’ve learned to give him a heads up that his little sister doesn’t need. Such as, if I know we’re going to go inside and start lunch soon I will stop and tell him, “Hey bud. Just so you know, in about five minutes we’re going to go inside to play so I can make lunch.” Even though he can’t tell time, it makes him feel like he knows what’s going on. And then I don’t have to deal with a fit because I suddenly announce that it’s time to go inside. This has become a very long reply. I’m sorry. I get too wordy. But your post is amazing and you are clearly rocking at parenting! Don’t worry! 🙂

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