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Is this a normal reaction to starting nursery or something else?

(20 Posts)
Happiestinwellybobs Thu 17-Jan-13 14:09:14

Sorry if this a bit long. DD came home in March last year and is currently 20 months. She did an introduction to nursery last week and appeared to love it. There were no tears, she engaged with the other babies and staff. This was what we expected - she is a very sociable little girl, lots of confidence and happily goes to other mums for cuddles etc (whilst always returning to me).

I am working three days a week, and started this week. When I picked her up on Monday she was teary, and tired as expected. On Tuesday, she cried when I left her (she has never done that) and again when I collected her. That night I was really worried about her as she seemed ill, but yesterday had perked up a bit. She cried when I left her again. Nursery report that she has not slept much and has been teary, and clingy with her key worker.

I am home today, and she just seems like a different child to what she was like before she started nursery - constantly crying, will not eat, crying in her cot (although she is still sleeping though the night). I caught her hitting and throwing her doll and toys round. I am hoping that it is just the fact that it's a big change, she's tired.

I have no concerns about the nursery - it is small with a family feel and has a great reputation. They have noted that she is vastly different to the induction week.

So I suppose my question is, is this normal? Both DH and I have been asking ourselves whether it is, or whether we are dealing with an attachment issue.

amazingmumof6 Thu 17-Jan-13 16:15:09

yes, it's normal and yes, it's attachment issue, which is expected at her age (and when she's 4-5 and goes to reception!!)!

she was fine last week, because it was a new experience and she was distracted by a new enviroment/people, but now the penny dropped and she's thinking, hey what the heck, I didn't sign up for this!

there are 2 choices:
1, stop, then start again in min 6 weeks later (no, I didn't think so)

2, carry on and expect things to get worse before they get better. she'll get used it!

and no, you are not allowed to feel guilt for leaving her and also not allowed to show her you are sad to leave her.
upon leaving give her a kiss , a hug & a smile and be casual - that will give her the message that this is the thing that happens, so no need to worry.

and don't linger, just say goodbye and go - yes it's heartbreaking, but you'll both get over it

(it's the same for everyone......we've gone through this 4 times already, 4 down 2 to go....)

Happiestinwellybobs Thu 17-Jan-13 16:19:54

Thank you. I haven't lingered and although my heart breaks, I have left her crying as I know it's for the best. I had hoped she would be okay today but she is wandering around clearly shattered, and finding everything a bit much sad. It is so unlike her, hence me being worried.

HappySunflower Thu 17-Jan-13 16:35:12

Good sign that she's clingy with her key worker, a very positive one in fact smile

Could you stay for ten minutes to settle her in at the start of the session?
I find that some children tend to cope better with that than the 'dump and run' approach, which others respond positively to.

Italiangreyhound Thu 17-Jan-13 16:45:18

Happiestinwellybobs my DD is not adopted so I am not sure I can help but wanted to just offer you support in a virtual way! We are in the prep course part of applying to adopt. I am not sure but 20 months might be quite a clingy time for children generally. My DD is 8 so it was a long time ago! My dd went to nursery much younger and was fine but I do think all kids are different.

amazingmumof6 were your children adopted? I just wondered because it can make a difference to how they will react to different situations.

Happiestinwellybobs, as your DD is adopted there might be something to do with that which is making her extra nervous or unhappy about this. I wonder if someone else who has parented adopted children and has taken them to nursery might be able to advise, are you part of any kind of support group or other people who adopted at the same time as you?

I agree that leaving a child and moving away from the nursery and the child settling quickly is the norm for some kids and I just wonder if a longer introduction period to nursery might help? Just a thought. It is a lot to take in for her. I wonder if anyone knows and can advise about the use of special things that are left with child or given to the adult as a kind of reminder so the child feels better while apart? I don't know much about it but I heard about it with slightly older kids and it sounded helpful. So you either give or receive (or both) a toy or fluffy animal or something that reminds the child you will be back?? No idea if this is any good but I just wonder if you, Happiestinwellybobs, have heard about it.

bran Thu 17-Jan-13 16:45:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bran Thu 17-Jan-13 16:57:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

amazingmumof6 Thu 17-Jan-13 17:37:13

italian - no, they are not adopted, so I wouldn't know and you are right it could make a difference

but if she's crying because she is left I'd take it as a sign that a bond has been formed with the person leaving her there, so she's hopefully reacting as normal!

so without having first hand experience with adoption related issues I'd still say this looks like behaviour that can be expected and not necessarily showing a problem as such , especially that she's normally a happy bunny and not shy.

I do wonder for how long a fundamental change such as adoption affects children and at what age it is significant - I mean do you think she'd still remember the events of last March or earlier?
could she actually associate starting nursery with "oh no, here we go again, where am I going to go now?" or is that beyond their understanding and it's more likely that the adoptive parents unnecessarily worry about the established bond being in jeopardy?

I do understand that it's not only hard to tell, but as every child & situation is different I'd it might just be impossible to compare what actually is going on in each individual situation.

By the sound of it she is very happy and settled with her family, so I'd say best to give it time, she will get the message eventually that she is loved and cared for and mum/dad will pick her up at the end of the day

( I know a bit about early development in general - but I'm not an expert, so if you think I have no right to say anything as how would I know I can't argue with that! grin)

Italiangreyhound Thu 17-Jan-13 17:53:30

I have no right to say anything at all as my dd is a birth child who loved nursery and now is 8! She was one who ran around up and down slide and would not leave the play groound area!

amazingmumof6, I would never question anyone's comments because they had not been there done that as such, I just wondered because it might make a difference, that is all. You asked "I do wonder for how long a fundamental change such as adoption affects children and at what age it is significant - I mean do you think she'd still remember the events of last March or earlier?" and I have no idea, no idea what she would remember and what affect it would have. We are right at the start of our adoption journey, still on prep group, not accepted yet so no bloomin' idea! But we are learning about it all as an early stage and I am interested to see because we hope to adopt and I would hope to go back to work part-time and would hope to use the same lovely nursery we had for dd aged 8. So we will see and I will read with interest of the expereiences from here, because it is helpful to know about others expereiences but I know all kids are very different.

Happiestinwellybobs I can't even remember age 22 months, so i am not sure what is 'normal' anymore, but I am very inetersted in your expereinces because I might be in those shoes in a couple of years. All best wishes.

Happiestinwellybobs Thu 17-Jan-13 18:20:54

Thanks everyone. You have made me feel better about her reaction. She does seem to have a very positive attachment with DH and I, and I hope this is just a case of a period of change. After all, DD and I have been pretty much joined at the hip for 10 months, although have been to every group going, so she has had exposure to lots of people.

She is always the one of her group of friends who is wandering off to go and see what others are doing, 'helping the librarians' etc. so it was a bit of a shock to see her like this.

I don't honestly know what she remembers. We do meet up with her FC family every so often, and she happily goes to them, but I don't know whether it is because she recognises them or just because she is that type of child.

She has gone to bed an hour earlier than normal so am hoping a long sleep brings us a better day tomorrow smile

amazingmumof6 Thu 17-Jan-13 18:44:32

italiangreyhound you are lovely, I was just saying, that I would understand if anyone thought "what is she talking about, she has no idea!" - as it is true!

hence the grin! grin

WaynettaSlobsLover Thu 17-Jan-13 18:50:30

OP I strongly suggest that if you can, to give up work for a while and concentrate solely on your dd. I know I'll be in the minority but she is just 20 months old, that is so young, and what with having been adopted, she needs a hell of a lot of re assurance and shouldn't be just classed as clingy etc. she needs her mummy. I think another year of quality time with you and to build her confidence, she will be fine, but don't feel pressured by anyone or nursery to feel like its completely normal with regards to behaviour. It's frightening at that age for certain children to be left in a place away from home and their main parent, and not all kids get over things that easy. Hope it works out for you

Posterofapombear Thu 17-Jan-13 18:55:59

My DD was just like this and she is really sociable and independent. She got over it within 2 weeks but I think she would have gotten over it even faster if she hasn't had chicken pox!

It is worth bearing in mind that she may well catch a few bugs which will make her weepy/ clingy/ tired even if you took her to groups before. New environment full of new things to catch!

FamiliesShareGerms Sun 20-Jan-13 16:39:32

I think it's pretty impossible to tell whether she is reacting this way because of her age, or because she's adopted, or perhaps both.

If she has to keep going to nursery, a couple of things I found that worked well with DD: let her take a special toy into nursery (on condition that she put it away after breakfast) as it gave her something to focus on and show off when she got there. Telling her who was picking her up each day. Actually saying "mummy loves you and will come back, mummy would never leave you". Spend 5-10 mons dropping off initially, getting her settled, then reducing it down gradually to quick kiss and cuddle then leave routine.

Does her key worker know she's adopted, by the way?

Happiestinwellybobs Sun 20-Jan-13 19:52:23

Yes nursery know she is adopted, and are very understanding. They are using her special toys, and looking at pictures of our dog, grandparents with her. She seems more like herself today, although she has been with DH and I for four days so we will see how it goes again tomorrow. I think she is teething (the very back ones so ouch), so that is adding to it.

I mentioned nursery to her today and she started packing her toys in her bag, and went to the door - if I ask her whether she wants to go, she says yes. She has seen her key worker outside of nursery in the village, and is very pleased to see her. So maybe it is just tiredness - she slept for 15 hours on Friday night! Fingers crossed for this week.

Happiestinwellybobs Fri 25-Jan-13 11:33:11

Just a little update. Second week has gone better. A mum whose little boy started his taster sessions this week, came over today to ask how DD was doing and said that DD had been so happy at nursery this week, playing with this mum and her DS.

She is still tired but back to being a bit more like herself.

FamiliesShareGerms Fri 25-Jan-13 11:55:37

That's great news, Happiest

Happyasapiginshite Fri 25-Jan-13 12:24:32

That's brilliant, Happiest and I hope next week is even better.

bran Fri 25-Jan-13 12:36:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Italiangreyhound Fri 25-Jan-13 23:48:37

Happyasapiginshite that is such great news.

I was in work today talking to HR about where my life is going... long and winding road ... and I said I did not want to give up work etc for good and got to talking about nursery etc. My dd had such a lovely time at nursery and made friends she is still friends with now. I love the thought that things work out and I hope that it will continue well.

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