How Do You Know If Your Child Is Unhappy at Daycare?

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    Many parents opt for a daycare service for their kids while they slog it out in the office. But your child might be unhappy going to the daycare

    Your child may have problems at the daycare he attends but may not be at the age or the maturity to recognise them and speak out about it.

    But as parents, we need to be alert to any of the minor signs of discomfort or distress our kid's show.

    Signs include crying before going to daycare, scared or reluctant at the mention of daycare, refusing food at daycare, change in temperament, signs of cuts or bruises and most importantly, constant infections and ill health.

    Having children and bringing them up is the most significant responsibility of any couple. 

    But in today's world where both parents in a household are working, they can't be around their children all the time to meet their every need.

    Some children aren't so lucky and don't like the idea of attending daycare, although the tips in this list will help mothers recognise the signs that their child is feeling unhappy and provide them with the tools to help change their minds about going.

    It is every parent's nightmare that their kid is being mistreated at daycare or by a caregiver. If you could, you would look after your baby until they were old enough to fend for themselves. 

    Then again, errands have to be done, your professional life comes calling, and you have no option other than to take your baby to daycare or hire a nanny.

    Maybe they care providers at the daycare are negligent. Perhaps your child is being mistreated. Perhaps they just aren't fitting in. 

    Signs Your Child is Unhappy at Daycare

    If you're worried your child is unhappy at daycare or isn't being treated right, here are a few signs to watch for in your children.

    Your Child Becomes Withdrawn

    Your child was cheerful and talkative before they started attending daycare, but suddenly they are withdrawn.

    A once playful child now sits in a corner by themselves and refuses to engage anyone in the family. 

    This should be your first alarming sign that your baby is not happy at daycare. In such a situation, you should find out what could have caused the sudden behaviour change. 

    It could be that your child is facing some form of abuse (physical, emotional, or mental). If you find out that your baby is being abused at daycare, you should file a formal complaint.

    Your Baby Cries Every Time You Take Them To Daycare

    There are so many ways a baby communicates their emotions, and crying is one of the most potent ways to show you that they are unhappy.

    Find out if your baby only cries when you drop them at the daycare and if they are pleased when picked in the evening. 

    For the first few days, you can expect tantrums, but after a while, your baby should get used to attending daycare.

    If your child keeps crying even after you've been taking them there for weeks, then that should be a red flag.

    Recurring Nightmares Begin

    Babies are not the heaviest of sleepers, and you can expect your kid to wake up at least once during the night.

    However, if your baby begins to have nightmares soon after going to daycare, they are not happy. 

    How can you differentiate between regular nightmares and ones caused by attending daycare? 

    Well, your child will wake you up with a sharp scream and will only calm down once they are assured that you won't leave them.

    You should also check to see if the nightmares only recur when they've spent the day at daycare.

    They Are Always Hungry Or Thirsty When You Pick Them

    You can always tell when your child is starving or when they want to take a snack.

    For instance, if you pick your child up from daycare and they ask for ice cream, then it's okay. They probably want a snack. 

    However, if you pick your child and demand food while crying uncontrollably, that should be a sign.

    The first thing you should do is check their lunch box. 

    If it is empty, then there's a chance your child didn't eat it, and if it is complete, it could be that the caregivers didn't bother to feed your child.

    Your Child Starts Acting Out

    Babies often don't know how to relay their thoughts and emotions, so they result acting out.

    If your child is usually well behaved, but suddenly they act aggressively at the tiniest things, you should be worried. 

    You should also be suspicious if they start crying for something they usually wouldn't bat an eyelid for.

    It is all about knowing how your baby responds to different scenarios and comparing it with how they react after attending daycare. 

    You should expect a minor behaviour change, but if the changes are extreme, then it should be a sign of your child's unhappiness.


    One significant sign that your baby is not happy or that they are being abused is developmental regression.

    Say your baby spoke fluently when you started taking them to daycare, but now, they can't even construct a complete sentence without stammering. 

    Or maybe they were comfortable using the potty, but now they soil themselves. All these are signs of an unhappy child.

    Your baby is supposed to be developing their abilities, and if attending daycare is causing regression, you should look for an alternative. 

    But first, you should find out what exactly is causing the regression.

    Unexplained Bruises And Cuts

    Babies are very active little angels. It is difficult for a baby to sit still doing nothing, not unless they are sick or are asleep. 

    Once in a while, though, your baby might hurt themselves while playing or even trip on something.

    This shouldn't be cause for alarm, but if your child is constantly coming home with unexplained bruises and cuts, then you should be worried. 

    Probably the caregiver is treating your baby well, but another child is bullying them. Either way, you should ask for answers from the daycare.

    They Become Scared At The Mention Of Daycare

    Before you drop your baby at daycare, that period should be enough to let you know how happy your child is at daycare.

    If you mention daycare and your baby suddenly cries or looks cared for, that should alarm you that something isn't right. 

    Babies love going to places where they are treated right. For example, if your baby is happy at daycare, they will rush you to take them there.

    Yes, they will miss you, but they will be looking forward to spending time with their daycare friends and caregivers.

    Unexplained Fears


    Once you start taking your baby to daycare, be very alert to their reactions.

    If your baby starts exhibiting anxiety and fears that weren't there before, then you might want to find out why. 

    For instance, your baby falls asleep on the couch, but once you reach out to them to hold them, they automatically cringe. 

    Or maybe, your child had no problem sleeping alone, but suddenly they are afraid of the dark.

    Be very sensitive to your child's behavioural changes. Not all unexplained fears result from daycare attendance, but if they begin after you start dropping your child at daycare, then you need to look into it.

    Soiled Diapers And Nappy Rashes

    Soiled diapers can be very uncomfortable for babies. Please think of how irritating it gets when you step in water with your socks; you immediately remove them.

    Crying Before Going To Daycare

    When kids cannot speak or word their discomfort, they cry. This is the first sign of distress that any parent will notice.

    If your child starts crying before stepping into the daycare every day, this sign should not be neglected. It is a sign that the child is not happy or comfortable in the daycare.

    If your child appears to be scared and refuses to step out of the house or step into the daycare, this is again an indication that all is not well at the daycare. 

    The child may not be feeling loved and secure in the daycare. Do check on the daycare if someone is ill-treating the child. 

    You may also talk to other parents to see if their children are reluctant to attend the daycare. Together, this concern may be addressed by the daycare coordinators.

    Refusing Food At Daycare

    Kids eat well and happy when they are comfortable with the ambience and people around them. 

    The first side effect of lack of attention and love is on the food intake. Kids refuse to take feeds from the people they dislike or where they are not happy. 

    If your kid's lunch boxes are coming back half-eaten, then it may be a good idea to check on what's going on at the daycare.

    Nightmares And Sleeplessness

    When kids are distressed or scared, their sleep pattern is affected. Likewise, when something unpleasant has happened, it can leave the child feeling uneasy and restless. 

    A minor incident, in your opinion, can be so disturbing for the child that it can lead to nightmares and rough nights. 

    Parents need to check if something at the daycare is bothering the child if everything on the home front is okay. 

    Remember, your child spends a great deal of time at daycare, so it is essential that the ambience and the people tending is amicable.

    Change In Temperament

    An active and happy child, if suddenly shows withdrawal symptoms or throws temper tantrums after joining a daycare, it calls for observation. 

    Sometimes when a child first goes to daycare, they might take time to adjust and settle down. 

    It is common during this phase for the child to rebel and throws tantrums. 

    But if the situation does not improve even after a couple of months, it is evident that the child is not happy there, and it is time to look for a friendlier daycare. 

    Signs Of Cuts And Bruises

    If your child comes home with hurt marks and bruises regularly, it is something that you should not overlook at any cost. 

    Fights among kids are common, but if your child returns with a cut or bruise almost every day, it only means that the caregivers are not vigilant enough. 

    In rare cases, the caregivers can be harming. For example, with too many small kids to look after, some caregivers may resort to punishments by hitting or pinching them to control the kids. Change the daycare immediately!

    Constant Infections And Ill Health

    A significant pointer that the daycare you have chosen is not a suitable one is your child's general health. 

    It is needless to say that children fall sick in their growing years, but ongoing ill health should raise a mental alarm.

    After joining daycare, if your otherwise healthy child is catching infections and always falling sick, it may indicate that the daycare may not be maintaining the sanitation and cleanliness needed for a daycare set up. 

    It is important to keep sick children away from healthy kids. However, due to lack of space, a creche may not be able to do so. 

    Also, the daycare has to maintain the daycare spotless. A dirty, unkempt place breeds germs that spread disease.

    Warning Signs Your Child's Daycare Is Not Right For You


    Disrespect For Your Concerns

    Any issues or requests you have about your child's care should be addressed directly with the staff and manager of the centre. 

    If your concerns are dismissed or ignored, or the staff becomes defensive or rude, it is a red flag that your child's care may be compromised while you are not there. 

    Do not feel that you are too picky or overprotective if you have questions for the staff. On the contrary, your questions should be answered attentively and helpfully.

    Frequent Staff Changes/Inadequate Coverage

    Frequent staff changes could be a sign that workers are unhappy and there are problems with the program. 

    Notice how the staff reacts if you make an unexpected visit, such as during your lunch break. 

    If you are discouraged from doing this or are asked to call before dropping in unannounced, it may be a sign of inadequate care.

    Ideally, daycare staff should be trained in early childhood education to nurture your child's skills and development. 

    The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends one staff person for every three to five small children and one staff member for every seven to ten older children. 

    If training in early childhood education is not required of the staff at your child's daycare, or the centre is understaffed, it's time to look elsewhere.

    In addition, the centre's director should be available and easily accessible for parents, staff, and children. 

    If your centre's director isn't around during the day and is hard to reach, it's a good indication the supervision at your daycare is not sufficient.

    Low Standards For Safety And Cleanliness

    Are emergency phone numbers visible and posted for easy references, such as poison control and the hospital? 

    Does the staff hold fire drills? Is the playground safe and secure from strangers? Are children prevented from climbing on the counters or other high places? 

    It may seem like common sense to you, but childproofing and stranger safety should be of utmost importance to the centre, too. 

    If the staff is unaware of an emergency procedure that should be followed, or the playground is not fenced in, making it easy for a little one to wander off or be lured away, then it is not the place for your child. 

    After all, you should be able to trust these individuals with your child's safety.

    The cleanliness of the centre should be high on your priority list, too. The staff should enforce hand-washing rules, and toys and any surfaces should be cleaned regularly. 

    The last thing you need is your child getting sick at daycare because of dirty toys and unsanitary conditions.

    Lack Of Communication

    A good daycare will encourage parents to be as involved as possible with the centre and their child's care. 

    Family meetings with the staff are essential for staying connected and knowing what is going on when you are not there. 

    If your centre does not hold regular meetings for parents and discourages you from visiting with staff or staying involved, you need to find a new centre or talk to your centre about improving. 

    The centre should also provide you with regular reports and updates on your child's progress and activities.

    It's also essential to connect with your child by asking him how the day was. Simple conversations like this can help alert you to any problems the centre may be having or if your child is unhappy.

    Vague Or Undocumented Policies

    Not only should your daycare centre have specific policies regarding discipline, your child's goals, and the centre's finances, but they should be in writing and thoroughly gone over with you before you commit. 

    If your centre does not have its policies documented in writing, you should be wary.

    In addition, the centre's certificate of compliance from the Department of Public Welfare should be prominently displayed.

    A centre cannot legally operate if it does not possess this license.


    The best place to give a child comprehensive care is in the warmth of a home. 

    If grandparents live together or in the same city and are willing to look after the kids, it's the best option. 

    Ladies who take care of kids of working parents at their own home is also a great option if both parents work.

    Suppose your child is still not feeling thrilled about attending daycare long after they should have gotten used to it, and you've tried all of the tips above to change their mind. In that case, it is best to switch them to another daycare in the area or even see if they will do better with a babysitter.

    Some children thrive in a daycare environment, and others do much better with a babysitter.

    But sometimes, when both parents are working, and there is no other option, daycares are the best place where kids can be left behind safely. 

    If the daycare you have chosen is the right one, you will see a happy, healthy child looking forward to being picked up on your way back home.

    Bad Child Care

    If you feel like something is off, RUN, don't walk away. ... This may be bad daycare. Being defensive. It's natural for providers to feel insecure when someone questions them, they are people, but if they are super defensive about anything you ask or say, it might not be a good fit.

    Regarding cognitive development, studies have found negative effects, no significant links, and positive daycare effects. Research has shown that daycare hinders the quality of parent-child relations, does not hinder it, that the adverse effects are small and transitory, or intermittent.

    It can take anywhere from one day to four weeks, depending on their temperament, for a child to adjust to daycare, says Wittenberg. Until then, you might see a few tears upon pickup.

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