Leaving a child to scream is the best way of settling a child in nursery?

(61 Posts)
nailak Thu 15-Nov-12 19:29:25

So what is the best way to settle a child in nursery?

Aibu to think a screaming 2 year old who is in her 3rd week of settling (half term in the middle) should be given a lot of attention, cuddles, etc by the staff, while her mum waits outside, and that the mum shouldn't be told to just leave her, and she would get used to the routine eventually.

catgirl1976 Thu 15-Nov-12 19:47:19

IMO they often do stop crying once you have gone, so it may be the best way. Otherwise they learn if they scream, mummy comes back

sparklekitty Thu 15-Nov-12 19:57:57

As a teacher my experience is that children often calm down once the parent/carer has gone. I do, however, make a point of asking our school receptionist to call them and let them know their LO is ok and settled. I can imagine a day after leaving your kid like that is pretty tough!

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Thu 15-Nov-12 20:01:51

In most cases, it is better if the parents leave. It is also better to comfort the child, but not to lavish too much attention and cuddles on to them when they are upset, because to do so can make them feel that there is actually something to be worried about.

If staff and the parent are firm and consistent that things are fine and there is nothing to worry about, the child is likely to believe it far quicker than if the adults go over the top with attention.

nailak Thu 15-Nov-12 20:04:09

no, the parent was gone and waiting in reception, i was in the room with my ones second day, this little girl all yesterday and all today she was screaming, banging at the door.

and she has been there for 3 weeks, 3 days a week.

and at 2 she is a baby really, I would have expected cuddles, sitting on someones knee and reading a story, bringing the toys to her to distract her etc...

the mum was crying as well by 2 o clock.

catgirl1976 Thu 15-Nov-12 20:09:21


I think the mum should have left but the staff should have been distracting the child, not ignoring her

MamaBear17 Thu 15-Nov-12 20:10:26

Just wait until she runs into the room and gives you a quick 'bye' before happily settling down to the breakfast table - It almost hurts as much as when they cry. My dd screamed when I first left her for a good month, then winged for a month, and now (6 months later) bangs on the front door saying 'go nursy, go nursy' every morning. The ladies used to cuddle her and then use distractions once I had gone and would always cheerfully accept my phone call an hour later and tell me she was fine. I think it is one of those situations where you have to accept that the professionals know best. However, you should talk to them about your concerns, it is really hard to begin with.

fluffyraggies Thu 15-Nov-12 20:10:38

Yep. They are fine once you've gone.

I've been the parent - trying to peel crying DD off my shins every morning of Yr1. Trying to peer through the classroom window to see if all was well. Asking staff if it wouldn't be better if i stayed a while with DD .....

More recently i've been the staff. Helping the parent peel their DC off their legs every morning and trying to convince them (just as my DDs teacher did with me) that their DC was honestly totally fine about 4 minutes after separation was complete, and pleeeeease go off home! smile

Iggly Thu 15-Nov-12 20:10:50


Poor child sad

nailak Thu 15-Nov-12 20:17:32

some of you are still misunderstanding, I am not the parent, the child did not calm down once the mum was gone, as I was there all afternoon, and she screamed literally the whole time until her mum came. She sat by the door and did not move more then one foot away. Anytime anyone came in an out she tried to run out of the door.

The staff constantly told her "stop crying" and "stop crying then your mum will come" "your mum has gone to change your baby sister"

I know previously I have left my ds in creche in cc's, and they seem to have been much more tactile, like picking him up, hugging him, even rocking him to sleep and stuff....

You could hear the child from outside, because i went outside to see how my ds reaceted (he was fine, used to creche) and from reception you could hear the child screaming still. The poor mum, they kept telling her don't worry, it is normal, few more days, she will settle in to routine.

The nursery is one room for 2-4 years

fluffyraggies Thu 15-Nov-12 20:19:41

Sorry, wrote my post but didn't press send for ages. I missed the bit where the child was left to cry by the staff.

That is not on at all sad

catgirl1976 Thu 15-Nov-12 20:20:21


They should engaging her, playing with her and getting her to join in with the other children, not leaving her screaming by the door

Sounds horrible

Your thread title is a bit misleading which is why I think people are misunderstanding (as I did to start with)

nailak Thu 15-Nov-12 20:24:06

oh sorry about title, the mum was crying and the teachers were telling her this was the best way, and it is hard etc but the kid will get used to it,

there was a nursery nurse in the room, but obviously she had to deal with other stuff as well as that child, like a child fell down needed first aid and accident report, and another child needed something, snack time etc, and although she tried to give attention she was only one person, and the other nursery nurses were outside or doing carpet time, or whatever

goodmum123 Thu 15-Nov-12 20:32:51

This is not on and is cruel. The staff have a duty to settle the child as best they can as part of their statutory duty under EYFS.
If the mother does not have to leave her then settling in visits would be more wise, where the child is left for, say, one minute and this is built upon until the child is more settled.
It seems obvious that the poor child is definitley not happy in this environment and the staff seem not to care. Personal, Social amd Emotional development is key to a child's well-being and her needs are not being met. Sorry, I advise on this subject everyday and I find it very upsetting to see children left to scream at doors.
Yes, sometimes a child can be playing on their parent's emotions but sometimes it goes deeper, and the fact that they are telling the mother it is fine is wrong when it is clearly not.

PessimisticMissPiggy Thu 15-Nov-12 20:35:40

Sounds like a crap nursery to me!

MamaB I know what you mean about it hurting that they they aren't bothered when you leave! My DD has just settled in a new nursery is more interested in waving bye bye to me from the window at at the moment! I'm happy that she's happy. It's a sign that we made the right choice of nursery.

goodmum123 Thu 15-Nov-12 20:36:25

Also, mum is crying (poor thing) because she knows this feels so wrong but is trusting people who she thinks know best.

dikkertjedap Thu 15-Nov-12 20:37:12

All children are difficult. Usually children who feel secure in themselves will settle quickly but children who feel insecure can take a (little) while.

We had a child in reception who cried every day of the whole school year. This dc started at drop off and cried almost constantly until morning break, settled until lunch time and then started again from lunch time to going home time. Not surprising the dc did not learn much in reception. Different members of staff had a go at trying to settle this dc, nobody managed. It was awful for the dc, for the rest of the class and for the staff. The parents never asked and were never told.

However, luckily this is quite unusual.

dikkertjedap Thu 15-Nov-12 20:39:03

Sorry, meant to say 'all children are different', not difficult grin.

goodmum123 Thu 15-Nov-12 20:39:46

Agree dikkerrt about secure children settling more quickly.

PessimisticMissPiggy Thu 15-Nov-12 20:39:58

dikker shock that's dreadful!

pointythings Thu 15-Nov-12 20:42:33

This should not happen. The out of school club where my DDs used to go also runs a nursery, and recently they had a little boy of not quite 3 who was like this - he took weeks to settle. The staff never left him to cry - they distracted, they sat with him on their lap, they read to him - whatever it took. They worked, and worked, and worked until finally he settled down and he is now a happy little man who trusts the people who are caring for him.

That's how it should be done. This nursery has waiting lists a mile long, and this is why.

nailak Thu 15-Nov-12 20:43:43

I told the mum to just stay with the child, and then leave for only 5 mins and come back so the child knows and is reassured she is always coming back, but I don't think anyone was listening,

I think maybe they need more staff if they have new kids settling.....

It's only the second day so I am going to give it a chance, the other kids seem confident and happy. If I still have concerns later on, I will discuss them with manager.

Skiffen Thu 15-Nov-12 20:44:34

Are you happy to leave your ds there? Personally, i would be removing my own child, suggesting the other mother did the same, and putting my concerns re lack of warmth, empathy, and staff in general to the manager, in writing. It sounds awful, poor child.

Floggingmolly Thu 15-Nov-12 20:45:17

The parents were never told?? That's almost unbelievable sad

2aminthemorning Thu 15-Nov-12 20:45:25


That's appalling. I find some of these posts incomprehensible. Has nobody read Margot Sunderland although she is a bit over the top? You can't just leave a child to scream, even if it does appear to work. I'm all for getting kids to push their boundaries on the way to independence, but that is ridiculous and saddening. Leaving a child to cry for days on end is the wrong way to do it and the end doesn't justify the means. The child who is running off to get to nursery may well be enjoying it, but their brains have been taught the wrong way to achieve independence.

I deeply feel that if parent decides to have children and enjoy all the magic and charm etc., one should also be prepared for the possibility that you may be the unlucky one and have a child who is simply not ready to lose Mummy within a convenient time frame. If is truly the case then I would live on beans, darn socks and have him play with cardboard boxes, if that's what it took.

Also, I've just had a mother's help who worked in a nursery for twelve years (I'm disabled not loaded). She was capable, competent and caring. Amazing. She was also one in a long line of nursery professionals I've talked to who would never send their own kids to nursery, having seen the reality of it. I'd feel happier leaving my daughter with a nice bus driver than some of the so-called 'professionals' I've heard about, from a variety of places. Not saying nursery can't work but I'm shocked at the complacency here about a child in such deep distress.

nailak Thu 15-Nov-12 20:46:57

my ds, is very confident and independent, in fact too much so! and he seems to make sure he gets noticed and gets attention.

I tried to take a back seat and let him bond with the staff a bit, I am going to stay another few days probably, and see how it goes. Watch some more.

AnaisB Thu 15-Nov-12 20:47:09


To not comfort a distressed 2 year old, and particularly to say "stop crying then your mum will come" is awful.

When I went to visit DD's nursery the staff member talking to me excused herself to comfort children who needed some attention - as it should be.

RyleDup Thu 15-Nov-12 20:51:47

Sounds like a shite nursery.

nailak Thu 15-Nov-12 20:52:57

the ofsted is good...

LingDiLong Thu 15-Nov-12 20:54:30

What is the ratio meant to be in that age group at nursery then? Isn't it meant to be 4:1? If so, surely some comfort could have been offered to this poor child? I'm a childminder with 3 to look after and have had one who was terribly difficult to settle (an 18 month old), he has had lots of cuddles and distraction. Yes, there were times when he had to cry for a period if I was doing something but these were brief. And I would never tell a child to 'stop crying' in that scenario - how could that possibly help?!

Does the nursery not offer a proper settling in period?

I have to say it sounds awful and I'm not sure I'd want to leave my child there.

nailak Thu 15-Nov-12 21:09:23

there is only about 3or4 two year old, the rest are three or four, about 20-25 all together (I didnt count) and about 4/5 members of staff.

But one seemed to be permanently taking kids to the toilet, so was hardly in the rooms, one doing photocopying a lot, I actually saw one talking on her phone in the garden while kids were in circle time (except mine wasn't he couldnt sit that long).

I'd rather stay and offer constructive criticism as long as I don't see a negative impact on my child.

Also there is no keyworker system, and I don't feel my child is greeted properly on entry.

Maybe I am used to something different and comparing it too much to my dds state nursery.

PurpleGentian Thu 15-Nov-12 21:21:59

YANBU - from what you describe, it doesn't sound like the staff were handling it well at all. Leaving a child to scream all day isn't right. If the child's still in a settling in period, and the staff can't calm her with cuddles or distraction, why don't the staff ask the mum to come in with the child until the child's a bit more used to it?

mamamibbo Thu 15-Nov-12 21:25:29

yanbu, i (used to be a nursery nurse) and i wouldnt have just left the little one to cry sad

Goldenbear Thu 15-Nov-12 21:30:03

The nursery sounds awful but why are people so conformist. If I was the mother I'd go and get my child/baby and tell them that their 'professional' opinion seems pretty poor and neglectful!

nailak Thu 15-Nov-12 21:32:21

i am in shock that this is aibu and everyone is in agreement!

the mother had been staying with the child for a few weeks, I think it may have been too long and the girl got too used to her mum being there with her.

The mum said she stayed so long as she was just waiting for the staff to tell her when to leave!

I think maybe this is the first time they are taking 2 year olds...

JollyJock Thu 15-Nov-12 21:35:25

I don't understand why the mother is still staying. 3 weeks seems an awful long time for the mother to be standing outside while the child cries. Maybe they've already tried gradually withdrawing?

nailak Thu 15-Nov-12 21:50:41

I have only been there 2 days, and can just go on what she said!

choceyes Thu 15-Nov-12 21:54:31

Sounds like a crap nursery to me, regardless of the osted rating. I've had 2 DCs in nursery and when they occassionally cried when I left, they were always comforted, distracted, whatever it took to calm them down. If a DC cried when I left, then I would hang around outside the nursery for a min or two that takes them to stop crying, to make sure they are alright by the time I leave for work. My DD was a bit more difficult to settle in than my DS (breastfed, never left without me for more than an hour or so by the time she started nursery at 12 months), and everytime I visited nursery at pick up time and at random times, she was on her keyworkers lap or arms. I've never seen any children left to cry without the staff trying to distract or comfort them (although some children cry regardless). And this nursery had a "satisfactory" rating till recently, now a "good" - so can't really go on ratings.

My DD is 2yrs now and in her room (actually the main hall in her nursery) there are only 2-3yr olds. I don't think lumping together 2-4yr olds really work tbh. 2-3yr olds are still babies and need a lot of attention. It's only after 3yr they generally become more independant and play with each other so need less emotional imput (i.e comforting etc) by the nursery staff.

i woudn't be happy with sending my DCs to the nursery you describe OP.

FeckOffWithYourXmasBollocks Thu 15-Nov-12 22:00:54

Screw that! I gave dd a couple of weeks to sort herself out, and then took her out. She didn't need to be in nursery that badly!

pointythings Thu 15-Nov-12 22:05:21

My two were in nursery from 6 months (no 39 weeks of paid mat leave back then...) and they had their periods of separation anxiety. They were always cuddled, distracted, comforted and never, ever left to cry. A good nursery should do this, it's part of their job. My DDs' nursery was always good, never outstanding, because their premises were old and somewhat shabby, but the love and care just shone through. My DDs had the same keyworker from the day they started there to the day they left to start school.

nailak Thu 15-Nov-12 22:10:15


so what should I do, should I wirte an email to manager? what shall I say?

I want to ask about clarification of settling policy (I was told different things by different staff, still not sure how long they want me to stay for/how many hours) and keyworkers and how they record child's ability on entry.

pointythings Thu 15-Nov-12 22:15:18

I wouldn't write, I'd request a face to face meeting and just discuss it in the mildest of terms - I think mentioning the other child is possibly counterproductive, and it's really up to the child's mother to deal with this. But I would definitely want clarification on their settling policy in very, very concrete detail. If that isn't forthcoming, I'd be looking for somewhere else. (Not easy, I know - have been there with sudden nursery close-down and desperate search for something else, fortunately it turned out to to be the silver lining rather than the cloud!)

nailak Thu 15-Nov-12 22:19:05

do i need to talk to manager, or can I talk to the teacher in charge of the session?

btw do private nurseries have committees and governing bodies and that sort of stufF?

RockPaperScissorsLizardSpock Thu 15-Nov-12 22:21:46

Oh god, I really wish I hadn't read this thread. My DS isn't settling in pre-school and we have tried all sorts of techniques to help him settle but nothing is working. This story makes me feel sad sad

dikkertjedap Thu 15-Nov-12 22:25:35

To clarify, at our school this particular child which would not settle all through reception was never, ever left alone. At all times there was a member of staff trying to distract through reading stories, playing games, walking round, going on a sound hunt, flower hunt, etc etc, we tried different personalities, male staff, female staff, nothing worked.

The Head decided that the parents should only be told if they specifically asked, as both worked full-time and our Head did not want them to get upset and worried.

pointythings Thu 15-Nov-12 22:34:10

OP, my DDs' private nursery did not have committees and governing bodies, just the owners and the staff running it as a business. Didn't stop them from being utterly amazing, though.

nailak Thu 15-Nov-12 22:35:24

rock I don't know, maybe this is what is happening here, I am only seeing a bit of it,

how long have you been trying for? how old is ds?

dikker that is amazing that you could facilitate that! Sounds like a good school. When dd1 was in reception, the TA was so wonderful and friendly and approachable, I had confidence in them and leaving my dd there.

Woozley Thu 15-Nov-12 22:38:25

DD2 took longer to settle than DD1 (who was just like, "Yeah, see ya!") but the nursery staff always gave her loads of cuddles, as she does love a cuddle and it really helps. Only one time I had to get her early as she wasn't settling.

RockPaperScissorsLizardSpock Thu 15-Nov-12 22:50:26

DS has just turned 3 and started in September. He only goes twice a week for three hours a session on a Monday and Friday, which we (being the teachers and I) have decided is a factor in him not settling as the two days are too far apart. I spend a lot of time there as part of the settling in process and see how they handle each child and I have no concerns what so ever, they are brilliant with all the different personalities. They have told me there is usually one or two who do not settle for a long time and it's not unusual given their young ages. I'm already dreading tomorrow sad

nailak Thu 15-Nov-12 23:17:11


pigletpower Thu 15-Nov-12 23:42:55

Reading this thread reminds me why I have never left any of my children in a nursery.

3bunnies Thu 15-Nov-12 23:49:11

Dd2 never really settled in nursery, she was there 4 terms, hated me leaving, hated the noise, but loved reception, even though it was just the next door classroom, two of the TAs moved up with her, her teacher was lovely. But they always made sure there was someone with her, she always did calm down, it was also to do with the personalities, but those girls went into the other class and dd2 discovered boys!

Ds is completely different and from day 1 has bounced in. This afternoon he was urging me to to off and do the school pick up so he could stay with a mother whom he has never been looked after by before.

All children are different but I would hope that the response of all staff would be to get down on their level and interact with the child/ scoop them up and cuddle them. We pulled dd1 out of a preschool - she had been in the nursery but then transferred across, the nursery had been great, but the staff in the preschool were colder, when we heard them telling her not to be silly and not to upset mummy we pulled her out. She wasn't being silly she just missed us.

I guess for your own son you need to think he might be absolutely fine when you leave him, in which case although you still need to monitor the situation he will probably be like most of the other dc there. If he is getting upset then you will have to assume that they will treat him in the same way as this poor child.

I wouldn't place a big emphasis on the ofsted, often it is more about whether they have the right health and safety/ doing right eduactional stuff etc. Ds's preschool is only satistisfactory but there is more love there than in the nearby good one, and is 'the one' to get a place in. While academic curriculum etc are important, for me preschool/ school, my first concern is whether my dc is happy, and if that means that they spend more time on a lap and less time doing finger painting, if that is what my child needs, I'd go for the lap every time.

Cortana Fri 16-Nov-12 00:04:28

Fuck sake Piglet are you just cut and copying that comment into any thread where a nursery is mentioned? Get a grip. People are here looking for support and help rather than to have someone piss on their life choices.

CouthyMowEatingBraiiiiinz Fri 16-Nov-12 00:25:14

DD was impossible to settle in preschool at 2.5yo. After 3 weeks of gradual withdrawal, and her screaming solidly to the point where I had to go back and pick her up, I withdrew her.

I tried again with school Nursery at 3.5yo. She still wasn't ready. It wasn't until she was 4yo that she was ready to be left like that.

DS1, on the other hand, started Nursery at 4mo, and was out if my arms and crawling towards the toys before I had even got his coat off.

DS2 was not able to settle at 2.5, besides which he was not walking and non verbal at that age. However, at 3.5, he enjoyed Nursery after a week of settling.

Each child is ready at different times. I think it would have helped me with DD if I had been more confident in my own belief that she wasn't ready. It was only when one mum took me to one side, and told me that I didn't have to send her if she wasn't ready that I realised the preschool staff weren't necessarily saying what was right for MY DD.

Maybe just gently tell this mum that she doesn't HAVE to send her DC to Nursery yet if HER DC isn't ready to be left like that yet. She may not realise that not every child will be ready at the same age. She may just look at it that 'all' children start preschool or Nursery by 2.5, so that's what happens, and the staff are right and her DD will get used to it.

A quick pointer that she knows her DD best, and can decide herself if her DD is ready to be left or not might actually really help. It helped me.

I didn't know when I had my DD that some DC's just weren't ready to be left at 2.5, and that though they may settle eventually, if you think it is too distressing for your DC, you CAN take them out and try again 6 months to a year later, and if you think another setting would work better for YOUR DC, you don't have to stick with your initial first choice.

A word in her ear may help her to decide whether her DD being in Nursery NOW is worth the distress it is causing her DD...

LadyWidmerpool Fri 16-Nov-12 00:41:15

It sounds to me like a poor nursery and a mismanaged settling period.

To balance the nursery bashing, one of the nurses at mine sends her own son there. There are good ones.

nailak Fri 16-Nov-12 17:40:00

Today after taking him and then waiting outside for a bit I left him

They gave him star of the day as they said he was good and only asked for me once.

The manager said the settling policy is you stay definitely one day then as many days as the child needs.
The keyperson they decide after 2 weeks, as they see who your child naturally clicks with.( (is this normal).
The chat about your child, and their "level" how much they can talk etc is done within the 2 week settling period.

The manger did say "hasn't anyone talked to you about this?" So maybe they missed out something.... as there was like no induction sort of talk, just introduction of staff.

Doobydoo Fri 16-Nov-12 17:43:11

What Couthy has saidsmile

nailak Fri 16-Nov-12 17:56:39

yes, I will do that, talk to the mum, she said first few days she was fine, then one day she got stuck in traffic and was ten mins late, and after that the dd wouldnt settle. She feels her child is bored and unstimulated at home and she has just had a new baby as well few months ago.

crookedcrock Fri 16-Nov-12 18:14:53

I agree with 2am, it is just dreadful. These are babies, poor little thing crying for its mother for that length of time.

LynetteScavo Fri 16-Nov-12 18:33:49

I looked around the most highly regarded nursery in this town (feeder for prep school) and there were several small things I wasn't keen on, but when I asked about settling in and was told it was "Baptism by fire" I knew it wasn't the nursery for us.

The nursery we chose insisted a parent carer stayed for the first three sessions. It was a bit tricky finding care for DD who was about 9 months, and had her own issues with me leaving her with MIL grin - not a happy baby when I collected, but well worth it for DS who settled into nursery well.

Doobydoo Fri 16-Nov-12 18:39:32

Also agree with 2am... know lots of teachers who would not do this.ds1 was in for 2 sessions then taken out,just not ready and why would he be? Also ds2 re primary school...took him a bit longer and had to take him out for a while until he was ready.

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