How do I break this to my ds?(11 Posts)
I have a 3yo ds with possible Aspergers (first assessment in a few weeks). For 2 years he has been going to nursery but he still, after this time, gets very upset at drop off - nearly every single time. Currently he goes one day per week. He always has a good time and I have absolute confidence in the nursery in that they look after him well and kindly. They are also good at responding to his 'peculiarities' and the times that my dh or I have picked ds up earlier than expected he seems happy and looked after and has been happy. He has also started talking about his friends for the first time, and speaks lovingly of the adults there.
Next week he will start two days per week (back to back days). I've had to increase my hours at work for both financial and job role reasons, and we also feel that as ds will be starting school next year he needs to start going to this type of setting more often, to help with that eventual transition. It's a decision we've agonised over.
My ds is NOT going to take it well. He gets anxious in the days leading up to his nursery day and will frequently say 'not going to nursery tomorrow?' He is clearly anxious about that, and on the day he's been to nursery he is noticeably happier, knowing he doesn't go back for a week.
He likes structure and routine and we've learned to give him days warning of any routine changes, in which case he usually deals well with it. In this case we just don't know how best to approach it, so we're looking for advice. If we tell him now, or too far in advance, he's going to be stressed about it for ages. I know he will really fixate, and be very distressed. If we spring it on him on the day of his first 'second day' he is going to be extremely upset and will probably have a lot of anxiety for some time afterwards. We genuinely are conflicted, so any advice would be greatly appreciated.
I agree that timing is the key. I would tell him the day before his 'first' nursery day of the week, so if he's going to go Tues and Thurs, tell him on Monday. Maybe even sit down with him and make a little weekly timetable to go on the wall - that will be useful when he goes to school too.
You may find he actually settles better with two days. That won't necessarily help telling him, but I found with my anxious one that more time at preschool helped because it was less "fresh" each time. Otherwise the first hour or more became always getting used to it again.
Would he respond to a "now you're a big boy you go two days" type statement? Springing it on a child at the last minute would be stressful for any, as they're going to forever be wondering if tomorrow you're going to anounce they do three days etc.
Could you find out if they have a special day (eg fire engine coming) that he could do the first time with something he'd love.
I'd go with the timetable idea. Print it out nice and big each week (and have that week and the next week up). Colour the days he goes to preschool a particular colour so he can see it isn't that much in a week. You can also write in other things "Granny coming", "Party" and colour them a different colour, so he can see that he does other things.
I was about to say the same thing as pp. Many children settle much better when they go more than one day a week. I would be optimistic that he will settle quickly. But I also agree a visual timetable might help, just do he knows where he is in the weekly pattern.
Good luck, I'm changing my DD childcare shortly and have similar concerns.
I totally sympathise - My DS used to sob at nursery (no aspergers)- we ended up doing a period of a few days in a row to get him more used to it - which largely worked (before this he cried all day at nursery- after this he only cried on being left !)
He got better when DP started taking him to nursery.
agree with pp - when our DD went to nursery for 1 day she cried every time she went. when we moved her days about so she was there on back to back days she was fine.
I remember when we first went to visit childminders they all said they would want back to back days because children generally don't settle if they are going for 1 day at a time.
Thank you everyone for all of your kind advice. We're hoping too that by increasing his days he might start settling more (although we are concerned that he still hasn't settled after 2 years). We haven't told him yet - we'll tell him tonight, and have a little calendar to show him - still absolutely dreading it. First thing he said this morning was 'not going to nursery today?'
My elder DS (2 nearly 3) was similar. Cried every time when he went once a week - much more settled when he started going twice a week. It also seemed to help to explain when I would be coming to get him - "after your tea, you'll have an extra play then mummy will be there to get you". Using the same words every day seemed to help a lot.
Thanks I hope he does settle. We tell him every week that mummy and daddy will be there to pick him up at 6 and this does seem to reassure him. Problem is that last year on his nursery day I was rushed to hospital seriously ill and kept in for a week. My parents had to pick him up (for the first time ever) and he didn't see me for the whole time I was ill, and had to stay with my parents in another town all that time, so that certainly hasn't helped with his anxiety. I think deep down he is quite worried one day I'll disappear for a long long time and because of my health I can't promise him that won't happen.
Well, he took it well. When we told him he barely reacted. Then we had some tears and tantrums as we left the house today but he settled quite quickly and has had a good day. He was a bit upset when we reminded him he was going again tomorrow but nothing too bad, although he did act up quite a lot this evening - possibly down to anxiety. Let's see how it goes tomorrow.
Can the nursery help by doing half a "project" with him on day one and finishing it on day two? Even if it's building a tower or doing a painting? Or can you take in a teddy for day one and let it have a sleepover there so he can collect it on day two? Give him a hook or reason to want to return. Agree that children are often less settled in nursery when it's a less frequent arrangement. Good luck!
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