leaving my 4 yo sobbing every time I take her to pre-school?

(35 Posts)

It has been going on for a couple of months now (before and after Christmas break).

dd2 has been going to this pre school since she was 3 and is one of the older girls now as she has an autumn birthday. She settled in well initially the September before last and was very happy going. Then I got Pnuemonia and was hospitalised for a week and basically out of action for a month. This distressed her and she was unwilling to go for a few weeks after I was back home, understandable. The pre-school handled it brilliantly, I have a good relationship with the staff, trust them and dd2 was happily skipping in again after a few wobbles and all was fine until this Nov/ Dec.

Dd2 was ill before Christmas with Chicken pox and I had to keep her off BB's until she was no longer infectious, I did take her in before I realised she had chicken pox , when she seemed a little out of sorts but there were no outward signs of illness. Since then she has sobbed and clung to me each time I take her in, initially it was hysterical wailing and she had to be prised from me by a patient key worker. Now it is quiet sobbing and dd2 looks at me like I am abandoning her in a warehouse full of zombies instead of a place where she plays with her friends and has fun. Heartbreaking.

I would not take her if I did not KNOW for a fact that she does have fun while she is there plays with her friends makes pictures, sings, dances and generally has a good time.

So how do I convince dd2 to leave me happily, what am i doing wrong, is it one of those things where time is the only healer? Why has my happy confident little girl turned into a sobbing cling-on? I am not used to it, as her older siblings happily skip off to school or whereever without a back ward glance - most of the time.

Am I torturing the child? I feel especially guilty as I am not off at wrk I use the time to do stuff I need to at home, shopping etc. and so I don't have to send her to pre-school - though for my sanity and her benefit I really think it is wise.

OH I could have so written that post.

So, you arent alone.

Anyone else who can solve the problem though? confused

lunchbox Mon 28-Jan-13 10:25:23

My dd did this with every childcare setting. She'd be fine for the first few weeks then would sob in the car on the way there, cry and cling to me when we got there. She'd be screaming 'mummy mummy don't leave me' as I left.

Heartbreaking. More than once I'd get in the car and have a little cry myself.

I always rang half hour later to be told she was fine and stopped crying the minute my back was turned.

Not sure what changed, she now goes in happily, looks forward to it, we did make a big fuss of drawing pictures to give to key worker/cm and thinking up funny stories to tell them which seemed to help a bit. Plus we were aware it was completely put on for my benefit as when dh took her, she was fine (little monkey!)

Commiserations Monkeyface - It is hard isn't it - just feels wrong leaving her crying like that - I do it and I don't hang around but dd2 is going to drive me to drink! She has an iron will and she is fixated on not leaving me (unless she wants to) and this is a battle that we are going to see out to the my bitter end I believe? Unless someone has a magic parenting technique to share - pretty please?

Distraction is probably the key but as I am also trying to organise my 6 and 8 yo to school and make sure we get there vaguely on time I can't keep up the excited patter as much as I need to but perhaps I will work on that .... thank you lunchbox

My son was like this when he started reception. Fine for Dad and on the days he went to breakfast club but really upset when I had to drop him to his class. He too was fine within minutes of me leaving. What worked was a mixture of the teacher having a firm word with him about it, telling him he'd get a gold star if he came in for a week without making a fuss and being allowed to take his stuffed rabbit in his school bag. Within a couple of Weeks he was skipping in totally fine without his rabbit.

I know your dd is a little younger but does any of this sound like it might work?

Thank you Yellow Dino - incentives may well work, she usually takes a toy into pre-school with her but maybe we can choose a 'special' pre-school comfort toy together and reward her in some way, for a drop off with less histrionics.

CloudsAndTrees Mon 28-Jan-13 11:25:15

You are not torturing your child! smile

She will be ok, you know that.

What worked for one of my friends was getting up earlier in the morning so there was quite a bit of 'awake' time at home before leaving for school. Not a brilliant prospect, I know but it really did help my friends dd go into pre school much more easily. And it was only temporary. I think she got her dd up an extra hour early for a month, and still stuck to her rules of no TV etc before school, so by the time they left the house,her dd was getting bored and was ready to go and have some pre school fun.

CarpeJugulum Mon 28-Jan-13 11:29:42

My 2yo DS is like this... It's the end of the world as I leave him; but by the time I've walked out the door, down the corridor and outside - I peep through the window and he's laughing his head off and playing away happily.

It's the worst feeling in the world; followed by the hmm feeling as I twig he's putting it on... grin

Thanks Clouds - I know I am not really torturing her, but when there is a small distressed face with huge saucer kitten eyes brimming with tears looking at you as you leave her ... well it is a bit tough.

The getting up earlier plan sounds interesting, though I suspect it may well be a punishment for me - I am not a morning person - but maybe 6.30am instead of 7am could work - I currently let them watch a bit of TV so perhaps - stopping that - and getting them up earlier will encourage all three children out of the house as fast as little legs can carry them - I will have to hid the remotes from the 8yo though! Better get an early night tonight then! sigh.

MsVestibule Mon 28-Jan-13 11:45:44

I really feel for you, it's horrible! A little boy in my DS's preschool does this - real sobbing, clinging on to her, has to be prised away. She leaves straight away, but on one occasion I had to hang around for a couple of minutes. The little boy had stopped crying 10 seconds after she left!

It's highly unlikely to be causing her any long term psychological damage. They just really, really know which buttons to press. And in a few years time, you'll be posting "AIBU to be upset that my DD makes me leave her at the end of the school road because she's embarrassed to me seen with me?"

PrettyKitty1986 Mon 28-Jan-13 11:56:27

Ds1 was like this and we did actually find a 'fix'. He would scream blue murder going into nursery. Then i noticed that the only time he didn't was once every couple of weeks when he'd take his fruit money in...he was so concentrated in giving the important envelope to the teacher that he didn't make a sound. So, we started sending him every day with a sealed envelope, which was an 'important letter' for school.
The crying/screaming literally stopped instantly and after a few weeks he stopped asking for the important letter to take. That was nearly 2 years ago and we never had one blip since.
I think distraction is the way forward, it's just working out what will best distract them! Even now, ds'1 loves the 'importance' of having something to take in, like a trip letter. He's like a fussy old woman the morning something has to go in, reminding me 20 times an hour not to forget it lol.

Thank you - distraction is good - I think what I really need to do is focus on nipping this thing in the bud over the next couple of weeks - try a few different things distraction/ earlier starts/ rewards etc. see what works.

I had been sooo complacent - with children that left me happily never clingy or sobby that I was blind sided by this from dd2 - I need to pull my parenting socks up and do something instead of relying on the passage of time.

Cheers - you have stiffened my resolve.grin

mummysmellsofsick Mon 28-Jan-13 12:17:11

I don't have a 4yo yet but I thought there were some good ideas in this book for separation anxiety. I love the 'important letter' distraction idea

poozlepants Mon 28-Jan-13 12:23:48

We went through this with DS when he had just turned 4. He was happy for about 9 months in pre school and then went through a teary phase in the morning which was torture. The nursery were great but in the end we got a bit tough. We told him Mum and Dad were both upset all day because he was sad and that he was a big boy and had to learn courage. There were a few minor wobbles but you could see him trying to be brave. So we praised him for it and he was so proud. A week and the tears had stopped. I think it is breaking a habit - you just have to find the right way for your child.

perceptionreality Mon 28-Jan-13 12:25:23

I don't think there is any easy answer to this except waiting for them to grow out of it. It is very upsetting - I have one child who always ran in happily with not so much as a backwards glance (then was the same at school) and then one who did cry when I left her and it was hard.

If you know that the setting is not the problem (sounds like you do) then you are doing the right thing in persevering - in doing this you are telling her that you know she can cope and this will support her growing independence. I hope it gets better soon.

Loving the important letter idea! That would have worked an absolute treat with ds and I'll keep it up my sleeve in case of a relapse....

Dannilion Mon 28-Jan-13 12:30:51

Whilst I am 10 weeks (hopefully!) away from dropping PFB and therefore can't offer you any parental advice, I do remember doing exactly the same to my own mother.

I remember that on my first day of reception school we played a game called 'stuck in the mud'. I then became fixated on what would happen if I actually got 'stuck in the mud', mainly being that I would never be able to come home with my mum. Cue me wailing every day when she tried to drop me off! In the end her and my teacher allowed me to bring my favourite cuddly toy in, with the promise that should I ever get 'stuck in the mud', that the teddy (a tiger) would be strong enough to pull me out. It suited me fine, I was a very strange child..

Maybe you could give her something comforting from home?

Chandon Mon 28-Jan-13 12:31:19

I had this exact same problem with DS2.

It was emotionally exhausting.

The playgroup key worker was great, we worked on it together, we had a quick exit plan, no long drawn out goodbyes, which was the best thing.

He is now a super confident school child. It was just a phase!

DumSpiroSpero Mon 28-Jan-13 12:36:48

There are some great ideas on here already.

You've obviously both had an unusually hard time wrt illness and I'm wondering if 're-settling- her might help - you know when they start and you go in with them for an hour, then leave them for just an hour, then a bit longer etc.

The only problem I can see is that if you stay with her for a bit to begin with it may have the reverse effect but might be something to consider as a last resort.

Do you hang around much at drop off? I know my DD was always ok if I went immediately, but if I had to stop for a chat to one of the staff and she realised I was still there she would get upset.

Another distraction idea - could you arrange to meet up and go in with one of her friends?

Losingexcessweight Mon 28-Jan-13 12:39:23

Only read the op.

I have worked in a fair few nurserys/preschools etc.

I have seen abit of children crying when their parents are leaving them at nursery. When you say you get on well with staff etc, they put on a front for the parents.

Have you noticed they are really nice to your child when you are there? When your not there, your child doesnt get the same treatment once your not there.

In my experience of working in 6 different nursery settings, theres usually something to worry about when your child wont leave you, usually because your child gets told off frequently for behaving in a way thats acceptable at home but not acceptable in nursery.

Alot of nursery/preschool workers are strict, and pull the child up on bad behaviour straight away.

If your child is not used to being told off for bad behaviour, then they usually do cry when parents leave.

Im not saying this applies to all nurserys but if staff are too nice with you and your child when your there, its usually fake

Kenobi Mon 28-Jan-13 12:43:56

I also could have written this post. 3 yo DD goes in stages - she'll be fine for a couple of months, then sobbing every morning for a month (which we're in at the moment), cue me bending DH's ear every evening and going "I'm ruining her aren't I? Her heart is breaking."

I absolutely hate it, but DH reminds me that she only three and feels things very strongly in the moment - but that moment ends when I walk out the door.

I find it very reassuring. In between being very guilt-ridden. But threads like this help too - ideas etc.

Kenobi Mon 28-Jan-13 12:45:22

oh god losingexcessweigh that's exactly what I most fear.

CailinDana Mon 28-Jan-13 12:45:46

Another last resort might be to "give in" one day (if you're not working) take her home and have the most boring day ever. No playing ("Mummy's busy, what a shame you're not playing at school,") minimal chatting, no outing, all dull as possible. It would be a horrible day but chances are the following day she would be keener to go to school. Of course kids being kids there's the danger she'll enjoy the day and not want to go, so it is a risk!

Thank you for all the responses, very interesting reading about different approaches/ experiences.

losing I really don't think that is what is going on here - I do know the staff pretty well (am friends with one) and I am on the pre-school committee. My dd1 went to the this pre-school and still talks about it wistfully (as she loved it there), when she has a hard day at school.

Dd2 talks about other children bothering her and I have raised it with the staff but dd2 is very inconsistent as one minute she complains about a child 'following her' and 'always wanting me to play' the next they are skipping hand in hand to the playground to wait for their siblings coming out of school! hmm So I have to admit it sounds more like dd2 comes up with complaints to get out of going to pre-school more than having an issue once there.

I once had to pop in during a session when dd had been particularly distraught to leave me. I was hoping to not see her but she happened to be in the lobby and she was with a friend, all I got was a beaming hello and goodbye, no sobs. This is what reassures me that all is basically well.

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