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sobbing DS at pre school - am I igniting his memories of being abandoned?

(13 Posts)
normanthehairdresser Thu 01-Oct-09 22:17:45

DS is 3.4. We adopted him at 18 months so he has had huge losses and abandonments in his life already. He's a bright spark who has just started three mornings a week at pre-school. He's high as a kite after the sessions and seems to be really stimulated by the range of activities. Trouble is he is obviously finding the separation from us hard going ...

We have been staying the first half hour, then leaving about 9.30 and returning for normal pick up. He was doing OK but the staff noticed he was rather quiet and withdrawn in sessions the last week or two. Then today DH left and peered in through the window (unseen) to see DS sitting in a corner in floods of tears. Staff hadn't yet picked up on it. DH went back in and comforted him, then left again. Apparently he was a bit tearful at times through the session but seemed very cheerful all afternoon when DH picked him up.

I do feel he needs to be at nursery school - he is an only child who really needs that social contact with other kids, and he's also clearly ready for a greater range of activities. Any thoughts as to how, with all his memories of loss, we can support him through the separation bit?

mrsruffallo Thu 01-Oct-09 22:34:33

It's quite a good idea to give him something of yours and ask him to look after it until you get back.
I know people that this has worked very well for. They gave their son a little bead to put in his pocket and asked him to look after it. He knew they were coming back then.
I think that 3.4 is a good age to be doing a few mornings a week.
I am sure he'll be fine

callmeovercautious Thu 01-Oct-09 22:35:04

Does he go on other "playdate" type things? Toddler groups where Mum or dad just sit on the sidelines? Is he happy in other peoples houses with you there/not there?

I ask this because even without his abandonment issues early in life all 3 yr olds can vary greatly in their attitude to Nursery and other group situations. Don't get me wrong - I know Adopted DC can have additional needs here.

I am concerned that Nursery did not keep an eye on him more - although the staff probably have alot of Children to check on. Perhaps you can ask for an extra bit of attention re the seperation anxiety at drop off time? My DD is usually dropped of by DH and is fine - she has been going there since she was 11m. The occasional time I do it she is very distressed sad It is really tough but I do know she is fine within a few moments of me leaving as she has made friends and the staff are aware that if they see me in morning that DD will be upset and one of them always makes the effort to take her off me and cuddle/distract.

Hope your DS settles in soon smile

maryz Thu 01-Oct-09 22:36:40

It must be difficult to see him upset, but I have learned one thing over the years - don't assume all problems you have with your ds are due to adoption. Some of them may be, and it is good to educate yourself and be aware of what might arise, but don't get hung up on it either.

There are many children who spend the first few days (or even weeks) crying at pre-school. Don't panic yet.

chegirl Thu 01-Oct-09 22:53:33

How about a laminated photo of his family that he can have in his pocket or his tray. He can then visit this whenever he needs to.

One of the things I do with my DS is to 'connect' with him when I pick him up. I give him a juice box, I kneel down and give it to him and hold it for him while he drinks. This gives us a little time to be close and really look at each other for a while. It tends to stop the post school tantrums.

Not sure if that will help with the pre playschool upset but it might?

nanninurse Thu 01-Oct-09 23:26:43

chegirl, thats so lovely.. will remember that one.
op i agree with maryz, try & relax it's reasonable he should be upset..

blithedance Fri 02-Oct-09 20:27:17

IIRC when DS1 started preschool we let him take his family intro book (the one with pictures of us in) in his bag, we had made a little pocket size version of it. Said if he missed us he could look at the pictures.

Given half a chance DS will still take my work iD badge into school with him as a keepsake!

Hoppity Fri 02-Oct-09 20:32:36

norman - sorry you and your DS are going through this. Pre-school is really hard!

But I agree with the other posters about not being too quick to chalk this issue up to his having been adopted / memories of abandonement.

I have no experience of adoption, but just wanted to share with you that my DD has just started pre-school and cries every day, gets very upset at drop-off and pick-up. It is heart-rending. We are a bilingual family and this is her first bit of exposure to the minority language so a few people in our family were quick to say, it's because she doesn't speak the lingo / it's because she is upset about not being able express herself.

But when I spoke to the teacher, she said, not a bit of it. Her view was: it's normal at this age.

I am sure it is normal for my little one (bilingualism notwithstanding) and I suspect it is normal for your little one too.

Good luck. Hope it gets easier for you and him.

Singstar Fri 02-Oct-09 20:45:56

I don't think you should associate it to him being adopted. My ds cried every single day he went to nursery for the whole first term. We were the talk of the nursery smile The nursery staff were fantastic and used to give him a 'special job' each time he went that they would give him at the door so as to distract him and eventually it worked

Some children are just more sensitive (my youngest couldn't have cared less and ran in straight away as if he was glad to be free of me !!). Don't worry it'll calm down soon.

Kewcumber Sun 04-Oct-09 22:48:58

I was lucky in many ways as I visited DS for 2 hrs twice a day during our bonding period for about 9 weeks (long story) and one of the advantages was that he learnt that I would always be coming back so he handled subsequent separation better than I had expected. So the first thing I would say is that persevering and turning up on itme every day persistently will teach him that you can be relied on to return.

The other thing I do with DS in new situation is that we run through before hand what is going to happen, talking it through ie what happens when he gets to nursery, when you will come back to pick him up etc seems to help him throguh and we have only had a few problems so far.

Final piece of advice - when we arrived at nursery I used to say "I wonder what you are going to be doing today" then when we would go find a teacher and ask. It drew DS into the lesson and kind of anchored him to a teacher for the initial 5 mins and also seemed to help.

normanthehairdresser Fri 09-Oct-09 23:01:21

Thank you to everyone for all that advice and sorry I haven't been able to get back to the PC earlier.

DS has had a much better week - separating reasonably comfortably and alleging he's had a good time. On Thursday he told me as I was strapping him into car seat

'I had such fun, but I missed you mummy'

That was most of what I needed to hear - and gave me a chance to say that I missed him too, but that I'd always be there to come back. He is quite intrigued by the idea that we miss him when he's at nursery!

Thanks for the something-to-look-after tip. He had Dad's hanky for a couple of days, didn't make much comment but then on the third day as we were going out, announced 'I will look after your hanky'.

We make progress :-)

Thanks again

shockers Fri 09-Oct-09 23:12:18

I love the hanky thing and wish I'd had MN when mine were v small.

shivster1980 Sat 31-Oct-09 10:40:43

I had similiar experiences when my DS (also adopted) started preschool. He would wail and scream when I left and I could hear him from the car park. He has been with us since 17 months and is now the same age as your DS. I used to phone the nursery to check how he was doing half hour after I left. This would also be a nudge to them to check he was ok if he wasn't been comforted already. He started a couple of mornings a week at 2yrs 5 months and it took a good couple of weeks for him to settle.
We have recently moved and so september he started at a new nursery which he adores and we have not had one episode of tears leaving him there although he does say "I knew you'd come back!" when we collect him. (This is a direct quote from the book Owl Babies btw - a great book for this purpose)

All the best

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