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To pander to my preschooler's anxiety?

(51 Posts)
Dundee86 Mon 11-Jan-16 17:42:09

3yo DD starting preschool this week. She had an induction last week, then did two sessions happily.

Last night from directly after her bath she started getting very worried. Kept saying about how she didn't want to go. She was very very unsettled going to sleep and woke up at 3am crying. First words on waking were 'not go to preschool'. It's an afternoon session, so I had time to work on her. Eventually persuaded her into uniform, breakfast - but the whole time she kept repeating that she really didn't want to go. Very cuddly and quiet.

To avoid drip-feeding - she is diagnosed as severely speech delayed - so preschool is probably quite hard to adjust to. She's been in day nursery before - so it's not like it's the first separation.

I phoned preschool and asked if we could re-do induction (i.e. arrive half an hour late, me allowed in with her and generally low pressure). They did allow me to - but I was given a stiff talking to on the phone about setting out as we mean to go on. During the 15 minutes that I sat in the corner of the hall, I had four more rounds of being taught to suck eggs patronising instruction on how important it is to do a quick 'cheerio' and scarper.

So clearly they thought I was highly unreasonable. I'm unrepentant. IMO it would have been wrong to ignore anxiety that is so sustained. I feel it is much better to slow down a bit and let her get used to the setting - rather than establishing a pattern of forcing her to go.


PenelopeChipShop Mon 11-Jan-16 17:59:38

Yanbu I agree and think these things have to be done gently and based on individual needs. Settling in usually lasts more than just the first day!

Quite frankly if you're paying for it they ought to do what you think best imo, it's nursery not school ie not a legal requirement. I don't know if 'pre schools' are slightly different as my son is at a private nursery but I'd expect them to listen to my concerns, particularly about anxiety and how to handle it as the parent knows the child best.

Pastaagain78 Mon 11-Jan-16 18:03:16

YANBU, both of my children have had wobbles, I slowed it right down. I stayed. They both got over it and neither were left crying. The bright 'cheerio!' Works well for a lot of people, but you know your child and you do what is right for them.

MrsTerryPratchett Mon 11-Jan-16 18:04:19

My preschool had the opposite approach to yours. People were encouraged to stay as long as the child needed. One little boy had his parent there every day for two weeks. I remember seeing him laughing and smiling at 'grad' and I thought that he wouldn't have had the wonderful, positive experience of preschool without their care and empathy.

I was one of the parents who got the nod to leave after about five minutes on the first day. All children are different and yours deserves you in her corner.

fluffypenguinbelly Mon 11-Jan-16 18:04:32

We had no parent going in induction but my DS Was very unhappy and I was determined that he was never going to be carried in screaming from my arms.

The staff all told me I was wrong and I should hand him over but I was having none of it. I took him outside and calmed him down and waited each time. After 3 sessions he was fine.

Do what you think is best for your child.

PuntasticUsername Mon 11-Jan-16 18:09:16

I feel it is much better to slow down a bit and let her get used to the setting - rather than establishing a pattern of forcing her to go.

I entirely agree. I wouldn't be putting a three year old through something that was causing her as much anxiety as you describe, against my own better judgement. Doesn't seem likely to end well.

And if pre school prove unable or unwilling to accommodate her needs, I'd be having a good think about whether it is really the right childcare setting for her.


Dundee86 Mon 11-Jan-16 18:35:34

I'm so surprised this is coming out in my favour!

LieslVonTrap Mon 11-Jan-16 18:37:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Poppybella2015 Mon 11-Jan-16 18:41:19

Where my dd went to preschool parents were encouraged to stay as long as necessary. My daughter was fine from the start but after an ear infection I stayed up to an hour each morning for a week as she was unsettled! Another friends daughter hated preschool and she was asked if she would like to come in and "help" for a while. Another lady used to stay for a while too then tell her child she was popping to the supermarket and would be back soon!

Mistigri Mon 11-Jan-16 18:54:05

Your Dd is obviously very anxious about it, so you are absolutely right to take it slowly. Try not to care what the nursery think, she's your child and you know best.

Dump 'em and run is right for some children but not all, and not in all circumstances. My DS was fine at nursery, but he was very anxious at preschool, and didn't settle until we moved him to a different setting.

ollieplimsoles Mon 11-Jan-16 19:04:54

You sound like a fab mum op!

Poor little thing! She must have had a bad night worrying about going the next day.

Stick to your guns op, take things slowly

pointythings Mon 11-Jan-16 19:07:31

I think you're being extremely sensible, she's only 3! If this day nursery won't support you, time to find one that will. If you can make the change to preschool confident, you will be boosting her confidence so that the change to 'big' school will be much less stressful.

Booboostwo Mon 11-Jan-16 19:13:52

My DD had to go to a new nursery (complicated story) who wee lovely and I stayed with her for a week but by the end of the week she was chewing her fingernails and having nightmares every night. I kept her home and five months late she started pre-school with no problems. There was nothing wrong with the nursery, I know for certain as I was there the whole time but it just wasn't for hier.

Let her take he time.

amarmai Mon 11-Jan-16 19:30:13

my gs was the same at 3 and when he didn't settle , as they made me leave, we took him out and tried another class later, which did work out and he was not left to swallow fear and anxiety. This nursery has the wrong approach,op.

Lurkedforever1 Mon 11-Jan-16 19:37:24

Yanbu. Dds clingy/ dislike of the unknown phase was younger, and I strongly believe a major factor in her becoming a very confident toddler and child was because I did it on her terms in her time. Encouragement yes, forcing never.

Yabu to describe it as pandering though, that makes it sound like its not important and you're taking the easy option. You're not pandering, you're listening to your child and considering her feelings.

lostinmiddlemarch Mon 11-Jan-16 19:43:25

I have a four year old with very similar problems. I would home educate rather than chuck her into a life she was miserable in. We passed up the first (excellent) preschool place we were offered because they didn't take any notice of tears. I know my child and the jolly hockey sticks approach doesn't tend to work. Her anxiety is real.

So we found a preschool with an open door policy and my DD is presently being 'inducted', knowing that a parent is willing to sit at the door (though not play with her). She's actually been better than expected and is happy with a parent in the car park, and we're working up to longer spells of being 'away posting letters' where she's completely on her own. But the teacher is happy to talk to her and find out how she's doing, and communicate this to whoever is in the car park. On occasion, if DD has asked where I am rather anxiously, the teacher has suggested that we don't push it by leaving her there for the whole morning.

But the key point is DD knows she's not abandoned and can request us at any time. And the teacher understands that we want her to be there only if she's feeling secure and willing to be there.

I think this is more than reasonable but at the same time, it is extra work for the teacher and I don't know how feasible it would be in a busy city school, for instance.

Cavaradossi Mon 11-Jan-16 19:48:03

It's not 'pandering' at all, OP, even if those are the terms in which the pre-school is viewing it - it's recognising that it's a big step for your child, and responding accordingly when she's anxious. I wouldn't give it another thought, and think you did the right thing.

I'm not wild about the way in which the school repeatedly 'lectured' you, I must say. My 3.5 year old son's pre-school also seems to be a fan of the 'cheerio and drop, whatever the child thinks' school of thought, but I didn't take the slightest bit of notice of that when he was settling in. I'm not going to apologise for not being of the 'prise a panicking small child off me and scarper despite the screams' approach. Shoot me. He's very settled, confident and happy there.

TeenAndTween Mon 11-Jan-16 19:55:16

You do need to balance whether you think she will actually be unhappy when she is there, or whether it is the thought of separation that upsets her.

DD2 used to cling to me in the mornings at home before pre-school. But staff reported that once she went in she was happy within 2 minutes. She basically hated the thought of me going rather than the actuality. She carried on being occasionally clingy at drop off until into y4.

I also used to volunteer at a preschool before having children. The vast majority of children who were unhappy at time of separation were cheerfully playing within a few minutes.

So I would
a) don't talk about pre-school except shortly before going
b) don't put her in 'uniform' in the morning if she's not going until the afternoon
c) try a positive breezy approach. but ask staff to contact you 1O mins in to confirm whether she has settled

Or just don't send her yet. Carry on going to toddler groups where you can stay. I overlapped the two for at least a term.

villainousbroodmare Mon 11-Jan-16 19:56:34

YANBU at all. Cheek of them to lecture you! What do they think it is, a boot camp?

TeenAndTween Mon 11-Jan-16 19:58:07

(We used to have it at home too. She would cry when alternate nights DH would do her bath and bedtime. She would cling on to me. Once we had prised her off me she would be laughing and giggling by the time she was half way up the stairs!)

TeenAndTween Mon 11-Jan-16 19:59:17

And lecturing could also be considered as giving you the benefit of their experience at starting 100s of new children at pre-school over the years.

StarlingMurmuration Mon 11-Jan-16 20:20:45

Everyone who is recommending staying til your child is happy, what do you do if you work? My DS is one, just started nursery and has settled very happily but I'm worried how I'll deal with work if he's anxious about pre-school.

witsender Mon 11-Jan-16 20:25:36

Absolutely YANBU

witsender Mon 11-Jan-16 20:26:08

But we never sent our eldest for the same reason.

Dundee86 Mon 11-Jan-16 20:42:04

The first round of advice I took in good humour - but I'm afraid that after the fourth round I snapped and remarked that DD wasn't my first child; this wasn't her first experience of separation and that we both understood the routine perfectly well.

I think what grated was that they invested time on hovering around me and effectively reframing the problem as 'need to calm down and advise mum'. I expected them to just leave me sitting in the corner and not really make a big deal of it. If they were going to persist in engaging me in conversation, it would have been more reassuring if they had focussed more on discussing DD or explaining their routines.

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