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What's happened to my little girl, fear of school, please help!!

(5 Posts)
Katnisscupcake Mon 24-Sep-12 08:45:39

Hi there,

Our DD is 3. She started at a lovely little private pre-school back in January when she was 2.5. She LOVED it.

It's a lovely little family run school that focuses on learning through play but it is slightly more structured than the average pre-school and they all wear uniforms.

We chose it because it had an excellent reputation and she absolutely thrived. She enjoyed going every morning and seemed to be very popular with the teachers and other children.

We didn't have one morning when she cried when I dropped her off, not one, even after the Easter holidays which are fairly long. The only difference between then and now was that she was there 2 days a week and stayed for 2 days a week with her CM.

Roll on to the Summer holidays. She was back with her CM for 4 days a week (I work Monday-Thursday) and was seemingly a bit bored, asking when she was going back to school etc etc. During this time she seemed to change/grow in behaviour. She became more confident, but also more naughty wink. Everyone that knows her noticed a difference in her confidence.

So, first day back at school, she cried for the first time. Really weird. Even the teachers were surprised because they'd never known her to cry before. So they spent the first couple of days cuddling her. But they noticed that if they left her alone, she would stop crying and go and play with something, so they started to pick up that it might be an attention thing. She'd also started crying at home for no reason and we're having to ignore that aswell, they're not even proper tears...

So, the second week at school she was a bit better. Still sobbing when we dropped her in the morning but when she's finished school she's really happy, talks about her day etc etc.

Then last week, she was sick on Tuesday night, so she couldn't go to school on Wednesday and Thursday. This morning, back again and really really upset.

I used to hang around in the mornings but the school advised against it when this started because she said it's harder for me and her. So this morning, I had to leave her sobbing, while the other children sat around staring at her. I'm crying while I'm typing because it's heartbreaking, she's my baby. I don't understand what's happened.

Is she just learning to press our buttons?? The teachers say that she'll be fine and other than being her usual quiet self, is fine through the day, but is she really??

We really don't know what to do. If we pull her out and take her back to the CM full-time, we lose the government funding which we can't afford to do and the only other option is to move her somewhere else, which will be as bad as now because it'll just be more new people.

I don't get how she's been fine through the first 2 terms of school, but now isn't, or does it coincide with her changing behaviour at home. Is she just growing up and knowing what she wants/doesn't want?

She's doing so well there and genuinely loves Numbers/Letters/Drawing. She writes her name and knows her Alphabet and does all this at home, just for fun! We always said that if playing with numbers and letters ever became a chore, we wouldn't do it, but she genuinely loves it and the CM wouldn't be doing that with her.

Please can someone tell me that they've had this experience and it all turned out OK??? I keep thinking that this time next year, the school will be much bigger and she won't have a choice in going. So we wanted this to make it an easier transition for her...

Thank you in advance.

Ruthchan Mon 24-Sep-12 09:41:46

It's really hard, isn't it.
When they are small they really make us feel guilty and worry!!!

It sounds like you have her in a wonderful, caring school. You can't do any better than that. Changing her to a different school would not improve the situation, it would only make her unsettled. She is best in the familiar place with teachers and children who know and care about her.

It is a really good sign that she settled so well in the beginning. That means that she genuinely likes the school and is well cared for there.
It is also a good sign that she is happy when you collect her. Telling you stories about her day and speaking enthusiastically about it means she really does like it.

The beginning of tears after school has been attended for a few weeks or months is not uncommon. My DS did something similar when we was about the same age. It didn't last long. He was soon happily running into school in the mornings again.

The tears could be caused by the upheaval of the holiday and going back to her CM and possibly having picked up a mild autumnal bug etc etc. There could be lots of reasons.
It could also be her age. As you said, she's going through lots of changes at the moment and she might be pushing your buttons/feeling insecure due to something.
You will probably never know the real reason.

The most important thing is that she is safe, well cared for and in the best environment she can possibly be in. It sounds like the school she attends is that place.
Therefore, be consistent, keep taking her there on her regular schedule, don't keep her off school just because she cries. Talk to her, comfort her, but be firm and let the teachers do their job.
It is only a phase, it will pass and she will be happy again afterwards.
Leaving them crying is always a horrible heart-wrenching experience, but it will pass and she will be fine.
You sound like an excellent mum, so don't worry.

kekouan Mon 24-Sep-12 09:44:26

Why would you lose funding if you used the childminder?

Katnisscupcake Mon 24-Sep-12 12:06:44

Ruthchan, thank you so much for your post. smile

Incidentally, after posting this I called the school to see how she was getting on. Her teacher answered the phone and said that she was about to call me to put my mind at rest, that after I left, the tears stopped, she ate cereal and toast, had a big glass of water, went to the loo and then worked her way through two puzzles before all the 9am-start children arrived. She said she was absolutely fine! Little monkey... wink

But it is heartbreaking - we are always questioning our decisions, wondering if they are potentially damaging our DCs. We only have DD so far and so have nothing to compare to and my own family life was quite disfunctional (no cuddles/hugging/loving conversation - even though I knew Mum and Dad loved/love me) and I wonder whether I've cuddled and been too affectionate with DD. But I just never want her to doubt how much she is loved, so anything that she could see as potentially 'unloving' treatment, like leaving her at school crying, really worries me sad.

Anyway, as it turns out, she is definitely learning to push my buttons... Only two days more to go this week and then we're off to Peppa Pig World for 2 days. Her first ever night away since she was born! Mine too!! We've got a hotel booked and she will be spoilt rotten for a couple of days. The trip is about Mummy Pig, Daddy Pig and DD Pig having two days of carefree fun! grin A little worried that DD thinks she is spending the night in Peppa's house and Peppa's bed... but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Thank you again for your message. smile

Kekouan, in answer to your question, because our CM (who had DD since she was a baby and who is like a 2nd Mum to her) isn't registered for the funding. She's never had the need before because all her 3+ children move on to bigger pre-school type environments. She is doing the qualification now to make sure she is able to offer and will be able to offer it to 2 year olds aswell once the Government brings it in, but she can't at the moment.

Having said that, maybe she's automatically able to with over 3s because she's registered with Ofsted, but has never looked into it because she hasn't needed to? Not sure... hmm

cloudhands Tue 25-Sep-12 06:35:40

hi Kat, you sound like a lovely caring mum, and the nursery sounds lovely too, with lots of of caring staff who you can communicate well with to ensure your daughter is happy, no wonder she is growing up to be confident girl!
a word about the crying, - please don't ignore you instincts to offer cuddles and love to your child when they are crying. I know it seems logical to think that if the crying stops when you ignore it, then you should withdraw affection to get the crying to stop, but that doesn't really solve the problem.
Contrary to popular belief, children don't cry to get attention, they cry because they need attention, and I think that's an important distinction to make.
children, can't always communicate to tell us what has upset us, but they can cry to release their feelings and heal from something minor or major that has upset them to restore their full confidence.
You may not know what has upset your daughter but if you and nursery staff can offer your daughter time and patience to cuddle and listen to her, then she can release her feelings through ctying,
basically when a stressful situation happens, stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin, are reeased in the body,
when the child (or adult ) is safe again, they can release these hormones in tears, to restore the body and mind's natural balance, (a build up of stress hormones leads to emotional and physical imbalances, that can cause misbehaviour and heatlh problems) once her mind is cleared through tears, she may say a bit about what upset her, but for now, she needs to cry first,
thing is in order to cry, as you've noticed your daughter needs affection and attention,
if she is ignored, she will stop crying, because she doesn't feel safe enough
- a word about fake crying -- your daughter is signallying that she needs to cry but doesn't feel safe to do so, because she has previously been ignored while trying to shed big feelings, I know crying is hard to listen to, but you are actually helping her in the best possible way when you have time and energy to listen.
if you could perhaps spend some time before nursery, listening to her cry, you may find that after a few big cries she will be able to tell you what upset her, once her mind is clear, and she can more easily put feelings into words,
if she can shed her feelings through crying she can so easily bounce back to being a happy confident girl that loves her nursery again
we as a society are so anti-crying, so little is understood about the true nature of tears, it's amazing how it can transform your parenting!
you can read more about this, in a book called tears and tantrums, and on the hand in hand paretning website there are free articles, and also a booklet about crying you can buy from their store.

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