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.

picking dd2 up today she was far from the clingy girl of this morning. she ran straight to the playground with her gang of feral fellow 3 and 4 yo's, chasing the boys and yelling etc. no signs of trauma. Suffering a hug from me happily pulling away to run off again.confused

NUFC69 Mon 28-Jan-13 15:27:01

I hate to say this but my DD did this every morning until she was 7! She was ok for the first couple of weeks when I left her at school, but it went downhill from there. And it's all very well knowing that they are happy within five minutes of you leaving, it doesn't stop you feeling wretched. I wouldn't like to say how many times I arrived home after the school run and burst into tears.

There is Karma, though, she now has a son and he plays her up when she leaves him at nursery.

quoteunquote Mon 28-Jan-13 14:06:07

every single day when you pick her up ask the question, "So, what were the best bits and worse bit today'? (in that order and those words)

and listen to the answers, then talk about them, do this every single day, and two things happen, one what ever they are going through, they know they will have a chance to talk about it later, and they gradually realise that there always good bit and bad bits, so focus on the good.

it really works, it also helps the child to form a way of conveying the day, if you ask ,"What did you do to day?" it's far to open ended for a child to diagnose, so you get,"nothing" in reply.

Mumsyblouse Mon 28-Jan-13 13:50:40

Sorry, I should have said 'leave her immediately with the teacher'.

Mumsyblouse Mon 28-Jan-13 13:49:49

My dd1 went through this when she started school, initially all fine, then after a few weeks, lots of clinging and sobbing and even an escape attempt which made me feel just terrible.

I kind of went for a carrot/stick approach after about two weeks of this torture, I told her that she was a big girl now and did have to go to school, but if she was really good and didn't fuss or cry, I'd come into the classroom for a few minutes in the morning and look at one thing, then leave. If she cried/fussed/threw herself on the floor, I'd have to leave immediately with the teacher (which the teacher agreed with anyway as a strategy). So, she got a reward (time with me) as a result of being well-behaved, and this really worked for her, no issues since. Perhaps this seems a bit cruel, but the school didn't want me hanging about if she was crying anyway.

Perhaps your dd is a bit young for this approach, but it worked for us.

That could be it Charlotte - my ds was at school shortly after his 4th birthday, dd2 will be nearly 5. I do think despite the upset she is ready for school in many ways as having older siblings means she is very familiar with the concept already. That is out of my control though.

Dumspiro - I have spoken to the staff and they are keeping an eye on this and I am continuing to ask - but different names and issues come up, there is one boy she is not keen on as he calls her by an affectionate sounding nickname she does not like (it is innocuous enough but not of her choosing) - but there is no one child with which she consistently seems to have a problem with. It is not so much what she has to deal with more how she is currently dealing with things iyswim? I am trying to be proactive now as I genuinely thought she would be fine once she settled back after christmas.

socharlotte Mon 28-Jan-13 13:18:39

I think it's a combination of habit, attention-seeking and that she is starting to grow out of pre-school a bit it

I think I do 'boring' at home pretty well Callin grin dd2 was always asking when we were going out, what are we doing today? 'Am I going to 'pre-school' today?' and prior to November she would have a tantrum if I said she wasn't going to pre-school! Which is why the about face has been so confusing I suppose - her illness has been the trigger and I just hope she can get back to truly enjoying her life very soonsad

DumSpiroSpero Mon 28-Jan-13 13:09:36

Are the staff keeping an eye on the situation re the persistent child/ren?

I can see where you are coming from re it being an excuse to not go, but I can still clearly remember a child that did this to me on my first day at nursery school - they literally followed me around all morning all morning, asking me what my name was over and over again and I was absolutely terrified. By the time my mum came to pick me up I was virtually hysterical and she didn't take me back.

Obviously not quite the same, but might be an idea not to underestimate how distressing this can be for a small child who, for whatever reason, is not in the right frame of mind to cope with it.

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.

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!

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

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

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.

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

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?

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!

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?

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....

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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?"

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now