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3 year old suddenly screaming when I leave her at nursery

(7 Posts)
dolster Thu 18-Apr-13 11:07:44

My DD has just turned three. She has been at nursery for a year now (four days a week) and has previously been fine at drop off - she has never really cried or shown any signs of anxiety when I drop her off and normally joins in with whatever activity is going on quite happily. In the last week or so though, she has clung on to me really tight as we enter the setting, and then absolutely refused to let go of me, has screamed and screamed, and I've had to leave her while she is still crying. The nursery say that within a couple of minutes she is absolutely fine and plays happily all day. Has anyone had any experience of a sudden change like this? Nothing has changed in her daily routine, there have been no 'life' changes and the nursery say that they have not noticed any change in her behaviour other than this... it's making me so miserable because I feel awful leaving her in that state!

MummyJetsetter Thu 18-Apr-13 11:49:45

I can definitely reassure you on this! My ds did the exact same thing at the same age and it lasted a couple of months then stopped as suddenly as it started. This was only a few moths ago and he is still happy there. Someone would have to peel him off me and I left him screaming and he was always happy and had a great day when I picked him up. I didn't feel bad because I knew he stopped it once I left. like everything with young children I knew it was a phase. Just put it out of your mind once you've made your escape, you know he's fine. I'm pretty sure it's just an attempt at gaining control. x

dolster Thu 18-Apr-13 12:48:33

thanks so much for the reassurance! Did you try and talk to your DS about it at all? I have tried explaining to her before we go in that I'll be back later etc but I'm not sure if that just makes it worse. Maybe best to just ignore it and not appear to anxious or worried by it?

harverina Thu 18-Apr-13 20:36:33


My dd has just turned 3 - she goes to my mil one day, my mum 1.5 days and a childminder 1 day. She has done this for almost 2 years.

In February she all of a sudden started to become hysterical when I dropped her off at any of the 3 places on my work days. I mean absolutely hysterical, clinging to me, dragging herself across the floor. She cried for an hour one day when I left, though most days she was fine after 30 minutes. I was distraught too - I didn't show her me being upset though.

2 months on and she seems pretty much past this - I did a bit of googling and reading when it first happened and its fairly common for kids to experience sudden separation anxiety up until approx age 5.

I spoke to my dd about it. I explained that I was going to work to get pennies and that I would always come back to collect her. I told her that mummy misses her but that I love going to work and really enjoy seeing my friends when I am there. I gave my dd lots of reassurance without going over board. I wanted her to know that it is normal to miss each other but good to enjoy spending time with other people. This really worked - id say that the phase went on for about 4 weeks but it did get a little easier with every passing week.

It will depend on how much you think your dd will understand but the little 1:1 chats I had with dd really seemed to reassure her - she also liked to pick a toy or teddy to take with her and I found that this distracted her a little too.

Hth - it's normal and likely to pass.

dolster Fri 19-Apr-13 10:29:22

thanks so much harverina, that all sounds very sensible. I spoke to her nursery yesterday and they also said it was a normal phase that lots of them go through. I think I will talk to her about this, as you suggest, as she's pretty good at communicating now and I think the reassurance might help, even if she does decide to ignore it and continue to scream at drop off for a while longer...

MummyJetsetter Fri 19-Apr-13 15:04:03

I did ask him at first why he was crying when I took him to nursery and he would say something random off the top of his head so he didn't really have a proper reason. The most sense he made was that he wanted to stay at home. I genuinely do think it's just a normal phase. Hope it passes quickly for you. x

harverina Fri 19-Apr-13 18:50:10

Yeah mummy I agree. My dd said she was crying because she wanted me hmmhmmhmmhmm of wasn't that she didn't like where she was going if that makes sense.

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