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Nursery refusal

(127 Posts)
HarryHarry Tue 11-Aug-20 19:26:28

If your child was or is a nursery or a school refuser, how did you know when to take them seriously when they said they didn’t want to go? To give in and let them stay at home?

I ask because my 2.5 year old son is extremely distressed at nursery. It’s been 8 months (minus a few weeks during lockdown) and he still isn’t getting used to it. In fact he is worse than ever. I know it’s normal for kids to cry at drop-off but I’ve never seen any other kid get into such a state. When I pick him up in the afternoons he is literally trembling like he’s been struggling to keep it together all day. I don’t want to remove him from the nursery as I think it will be good for him in the long-run (and also I don’t want to set a precedent for refusing primary school and secondary school) but I am a bit worried that it’s more than just normal separation anxiety/fear of the unfamiliar. Since he’s been going there he has become very sullen and emotional and fearful, even at home. He used to be so happy and carefree. The nursery workers don’t seem concerned but they don’t know what he’s like normally and also, he isn’t their child. They say he’s just picking up on my anxiety... but I wasn’t anxious until he started freaking out like this every day! The other children I see all seem totally content.

Please feel free to tell me that I’m overreacting - I really hope I am! I’d love to hear from parents who had similar and everything turned out fine!

OP’s posts: |
dontlikebeards Tue 11-Aug-20 19:30:20

He should have settled long before now, I would try another nursery.

EggbertHeartsTina Tue 11-Aug-20 19:31:56

That sounds very tough for you. My oldest took a while to settle but 8 months is a long time.
Have you considered alternative options like local childminders? I think perhaps nursery isn’t for every kid and sometimes they settle better in smaller setting. It doesn’t mean they won’t be prepared for school etc.

MindatWork Tue 11-Aug-20 19:32:07

Hi OP - my DD (21months) was awful going back to nursery post-lockdown. They had to peel her off me screaming, it was awful.

If it was just post that he’s been behaving this way I’d say persevere but 8 months is a long old time for him to be so upset.l, poor poppet sad.

Could you ask for a meeting with the room head and discuss your concerns? Does he eat/drink/sleep ok? Do they have any way of updating you through the day like an app, so you can have some reassurance that he’s at least enjoying himself some of the time?

Failing that it might be worth looking at some other more home-like settings, like a childminder? flowers for you, it’s the worst x

Ohtherewearethen Tue 11-Aug-20 19:34:12

Definitely try another nursery. If children are trying it on and are genuinely happy at nursery they will forget they're meant to be miserable and you can tell they're having a lovely time really. This doesn't sound like your son, unfortunately. Is it the environment or the fact that you are not there? Things that have worked before us you leaving something of yours with him. Something important like a purse (pretend it's your real purse) or even a scarf that smells like you. This might help to reassure him that you are thinking of him and will come back for him.

chubbyhotchoc Tue 11-Aug-20 19:34:12

Hmmm that sounds a long time for this to be going on for. I would wonder what's going on. How many days a week does he do? How many breaks has he had from going? My dd took a bit longer to settle because when she first started she kept getting bugs and I had to keep her home

SerenityNowwwww Tue 11-Aug-20 19:34:36

How many sessions a week does he go for? What do the staff say? Poor wee soul.

Merryoldgoat Tue 11-Aug-20 19:36:27

Well, I’m not childcare or child development expert, but my son didn’t like nursery at all at 2.5 - very distressed etc and didn’t settle so I stopped it after a few weeks. It just felt wrong.

I tried again the Sept after he turned 3. He hated the first one (and so did I to be fair) but the one at our local primary was fantastic. He took about 2 weeks to settle but the difference was he was happy at every pick up.

I just don’t think he was ready at 2.

Just to say, my son has HFA so I don’t know if that played a part but he settled happily into school easily and I have had no further refusal issues.

Julmust Tue 11-Aug-20 19:36:41

If it's an option I'd keep him home til 3 then try somewhere else. If it's not I'd look for an alternative

iano Tue 11-Aug-20 19:38:09

Try another nursery. My son did ok and his first nursery. I could tell he wasn't very happy but he settled within days at another setting. He just didn't like that particular nursery.

ItsReallyOnlyMe Tue 11-Aug-20 19:39:10

If he is that distressed I would pull him out.

He will gain nothing whilst he is so upset. 2.5 is still young to be in a nursery setting. A childminder for just socialisation would be better for him. Same carer, less noise and fewer children.

If you don't need the childcare - I would leave it and try again when he is 3.

RainbowFlowers Tue 11-Aug-20 19:42:16

I would try at a different setting. 8 months is a long time for a little one to be upset at each drop off.

I would want to know a bit more about how he gets on at nursry in the day. Does he interact with other toddlers? Does he eat all his meals? Does he play with all the toys/activities? Getting these answered may give you an idea of what to look for in a different setting.

A lot of little ones go to a childminder first then to nursery when they are a bit older so it wouldn't be unusual for him to just not be ready for it yet.

user1493413286 Tue 11-Aug-20 19:45:35

I would try another nursery or a childminder; you’ll then know whether it’s about him or the nursery. It’s not great that nursery aren’t concerned considering how he is when you pick him up.

OddSox123 Tue 11-Aug-20 19:45:37

My son was a bit like this with his first nursery. Started going from 9 months and stayed up until we moved house and then went to a pre school attached to his now primary school. In nursery He would tell me over and over in the morning he didnt want to go, he'd cry and look so scared at drop off. I put it down to him being quite shy and not wanting to leave me.

However when he started pre school at 3 he was much happier, so excited to go, asked if he could even go at weekends! I think he maybe preferred the more structured day of a pre school as opposed to his nursery being a bit of a free for all with kids doing what they wanted all over the place!

Personally if your son hasnt changed in 8 months I'd say try somewhere else. Poor lad might just not be ready and maybe try 3 years old or go somewhere else he can settle into.

Thehop Tue 11-Aug-20 19:47:24

Move him x

Groovee Tue 11-Aug-20 19:47:39

I'd consider a different environment. A childminder or different nursery.

HarryHarry Tue 11-Aug-20 19:53:44

The problem is that it is almost impossible to find a space at another nursery. The one we’re at is said to be one of the best. He goes 3 days a week. Eats and sleeps fine, apparently. But he is just very down throughout the day and becomes emotional when he sees me. They don’t care so much but I can see his distress in the videos they send me.

Part of the issue may be that they don’t speak English there (we don’t live in the UK) so he can’t communicate easily but I thought he would just pick up the other language. They told me most English speaking kids who go there pick it up within 6 months.

I am desperate for him to stay in nursery so he can learn the language before he starts school. I feel like I would be putting him at a great disadvantage to deny him that opportunity.

OP’s posts: |
MotherForkinShirtBalls Tue 11-Aug-20 19:56:51

How is he during the day? Ds was a nightmare at drop off for a long time and then every time he changed room, key worker went on holidays, the clouds blew in the wrong direction...even now (primary school) he gets the heebie jeebies if his teacher is out for a day.

Do you trust the staff if they tell you he is ok during the day?

HarryHarry Tue 11-Aug-20 20:00:38

No I don’t. As I say, he’s not their child (and neither of them have children) so I don’t think they really understand. But I am also wary that I might just be being all PFB. I don’t know.

OP’s posts: |
Huhokthen Tue 11-Aug-20 20:01:19

Ohhhhh OP, if he's visibly miserable all day, unable to communicate and the staff don't care, then you need to move him ASAP, it's not fair at all to leave him there.

StatementKnickers Tue 11-Aug-20 20:04:59

I used to work in a nursery (for age 2-4) and saw some big scenes at drop-off time, but honestly I never saw a child cry longer than a couple of minutes once their parent had said a cheery goodbye and swiftly left the premises (obviously if mum lurked outside peeping in the door it was a different story!). But you know your DS best. Maybe the language barrier is hard for him? Is he OK with you leaving him in other situations - e.g. at home with a babysitter? Could you get a nanny instead?

RainbowFlowers Tue 11-Aug-20 20:07:44

Poor kid. Sounds horrible to be in an environment where he can't communicate with anyone.

chubbyhotchoc Tue 11-Aug-20 20:08:52

Oh I'm sure it'll be the language barrier. That must be scary for him. I would take him out and see if you can find something else. I couldn't go to work with peace of mind in this situation.

oakleaffy Tue 11-Aug-20 20:10:05


I was a ''Nursery refuser''..{But had to go anyway}

Mum died so had to go to a day nursery at 2.5 yrs old..

I remember parts of it now with appalling clarity.
It was run by a brutal woman who was all smiles when my dad dropped me off {I'd be screaming my head off, trying to climb out of my pushchair}...
The brutality I won't go into here , but the children were scared, punished and hurt.
It gave me phobias that took years to clear.

If any child appears really anxious to the point of terror....Ask why.

I spoke {as an adult} to an auntie who had to drop me off there...and she said ''I knew that woman was a bad un, but what could I do.... we had to work''......

Thankfully Dad changed day nurseries, where a wonderful young woman and her assistant were as kindly as the Oxford House ones had been brutes.

Please listen to your child.🙏

LondonUnited Tue 11-Aug-20 20:13:48

My daughter was like this. She would cry as soon as she knew where she was going in the morning; I could see on all the photos that she was miserable. Her brother was also there and was fine so we stuck with it.

Eventually we moved house and she had a nanny for a few months before starting another nursery. She absolutely blossomed and skipped into school on the first day. Looking back I really regret persevering for so long with the nursery, it really wasn’t for her. In your circumstances I would definitely move him if there are other options.

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