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20m old suddenly doesn't want to go to nursery

(25 Posts)
cluxy Mon 29-Jul-13 16:19:00

My DS is 23 months, and he's been the same for the last few months - he used to run off without even a look back or a goodbye, he was so happy to go in there, and now he clings on for a cuddle and doesn't really want to go in at all. I know there have been a few changes in the last few months, ie some of his friends have moved down to the next age group, and he's been left behind as he was a bit younger than them - he's off to join them on his birthday week, so it's all very unsettling with the pre-visits etc. I don't think he has a clue what's going on, as much as I've tried to talk to him about it.

Toddlers don't like change much (mine definitely doesn't, he's like a stubborn old man!).

Hope it gets better soon for your DS.

Deliaskis Mon 29-Jul-13 15:45:41

DD (now 2.5) had this at around the same time, and I don't know what fixed it except that her keyworker was great and really worked with us to help her. Took her straight from me and started to actively play/point out things/interact with her immediately, and we discussed together that I would outline plans to DD each day (i.e. we're going to have toast together then go to nursery so you can play with your friends and then I'll pick you up later, etc.). Even if it doesn't seem to help, and it seems to make her upset, I think that in the end the familiarity, and the understanding that you really will go and get them later, does eventually make an impact. FWIW, it lasted about a month with DD then she was happily ready-steady-go-ing and running up the path to nursery a few weeks later. Just lots of reassurance and routine seemed to help.

Strangely, she's going through a new little phase now but I think it's because she has upped to 3 days instead of 2 and she's learning to assert her will about what she does and doesn't want (slides, Nanna and ice cream are both apparently preferable to nursery at the moment!).


Sheshelob Mon 29-Jul-13 14:16:19

Thanks, Maja and BBBB. That is really reassuring. I hope it is just a phase. He is 21 months next week so hopefully getting close to growing out of it.

But I shall lovebomb him until it gets better.

maja00 Mon 29-Jul-13 14:08:47

My DS didn't really experience separation anxiety as a 9-12 month old, but suddenly got it really badly at about 18-22 months. Wouldn't even let me leave the room without screaming.

We got through it by really reassuring him as much as possible, I carried him a lot and let him sleep with me at night if he needed it. DP dropped him off to the CM in the morning which also seemed to help.

BrownBearBrownBear Mon 29-Jul-13 13:52:51

My DD is 19 months and she's been at nursery a couple of days a week since she was 9 months old. She loves it and never had any difficulty separating from us.

But she's recently had a good few weeks where she's been very tearful and clingy when we leave her. She usually calmed quickly once we left, her key worker just distracted her.

She seems to have come through the other side now so hopefully your little DS will feel happier about being left soon.

Sheshelob Mon 29-Jul-13 08:59:43

I try that, Alice, but he just says "No!"

This morning was as bad as ever, despite the fact he slept well and had a very lovely morning with me. It is as bad as it was when he first started nursery. He just clings on to me and cries as soon as I say goodbye. I would hang around more but the nursery staff like a quick transition as he always cheers up as soon as I have gone. My staying there just makes it worse.

I'm going to try the photo album and maybe a little routine at nursery, as he likes to know what to expect. There are different workers there every morning now because it is the summer holidays, whereas his key worker used to be there to greet him every morning. So perhaps if we have a little routine it might help settle him.

I dunno. Toddlerdom seems as confusing as having a newborn!

aliceinapalace Sun 28-Jul-13 21:50:03

I'm a childminder and had similar prob with a.mindee about the same age. He is better if mum/dad explain what they are doing (obviously simply I.e I'm going in the car to the office, and I'm going to do some...) And then end with ..."get back in the car and pick you up after a fun day". This also helps me to say where they are when he asks. A photo book at nursery with pictures of you/partner might also help him to reconnect with u during the day?

Sheshelob Sun 28-Jul-13 21:26:42

Thanks, cookie. I'll try all those things, too.

I've been thinking about it this weekend and I think that part of it is that since I found out my workload is going to increase I have been feeling apprehensive about the fact that our afternoons together might become a thing of the past. He must be picking up on my sadness, so I need to be much more positive about dropping him off for his sake. I guess I had realised how much I love our time together sad

Sheshelob Sun 28-Jul-13 21:22:31

A photo book is a great idea, Fantasticmax. I'll try it this week.

Thank you.

cookielove Sun 28-Jul-13 21:21:24

Yes yes this is very common (over 10 years in same nursery) I promise it will pass. Lots of different things to try:

1) Engage him into an activity, sit him down and crouch near him with a carer on the other side. Once he is absorbed let him know you are going. Give him a quick kiss and say bye.

2) Let him bring in a book or a favourite toy, as you walk in talk about who he wants to show it to and play with. If he gets upset distract him with the toy e.t.c

3) Give him a muslin/scarf that smells of you, when you
get to nursery put it in his bag together. Tell him that whenever he is feeling sad he can come to his bag and get the muslin/scarf and take it to his carer for a hug.


FantasticMax Sun 28-Jul-13 21:11:05

My DD goes to nursery but is a little younger than yours. A few people at work whose children have been to nursery have actually told me that this is quite common and to prepare for it!

One idea that could help is to make a book of photos of people and places that are familiar to him (ie. pet, mummy, daddy, etc) to take with him to nursery, which could help with comforting him. He might also enjoy sharing this with his key worker.

I hope this will pass soon.

Sheshelob Fri 26-Jul-13 09:58:45

It is helpful, curlew, so thank you. I guess I just needed someone to tell me it is going to be ok.


curlew Fri 26-Jul-13 09:45:12

It sounds as if he is going through some sort of developmental shift-talk to the key worker but I would just stick it out for a while and see what happens. Chances are another shift will come along soon and things will change again. Not very helpful- sorry.

Sheshelob Fri 26-Jul-13 09:36:30

It varies, curlew. Most days, he stops crying as soon as I leave, eats bundles of breakfast and plays his heart out all morning. But some days he needs more comfort, which they give him.

It's been a complete switch because he was struggling with tantrums at home but loving nursery until a few weeks ago. Now he is absolutely adorable at home and struggling at nursery.

It feels like we've entered a new phase and I feel as lost as I did when he was four months old. I want to make it better for him so he feels more secure, but obviously within our particular circumstances.

Sheshelob Fri 26-Jul-13 09:32:24

Thanks, ipp3

We've talked about it in passing but I think I will speak to his key worker today about whether there is anything we can do together to ease the start to his day.

He has a little bag he wears now, which they let him keep on, that seems to reassure him. But it is the transition that seems to be getting worse.

curlew Fri 26-Jul-13 09:28:25

What does his key worker say? How is he once you've gone?

Ipp3 Fri 26-Jul-13 09:27:27

I don't have any suggestions but just wanted to offer my sympathies. Have you spoken with the nursery? Do they have any ideas? They must come across this a lot.

Sheshelob Fri 26-Jul-13 09:26:44

He's been fine with childcare until very recently, which is why I'm wondering if it is a phase other people have experienced.

Sheshelob Fri 26-Jul-13 09:23:53

I don't think moving him would help with him feel less unsettled.

I'm just really looking for advice about easing his transition in the mornings.

Carly3869 Fri 26-Jul-13 09:22:32

Maybe a childminder at home for a year or so if convenient? He may be alot happier in his own environment and he is still young! Maybe I'm too soft! Oh dear, got a feeling my son is going to be young forever!

SchroSawMargeryDaw Fri 26-Jul-13 09:04:44

Could you use a childminder instead?

Sheshelob Fri 26-Jul-13 08:38:07

Yes. I work so he has to go. I've kept him in mornings so far, but I've just had a project come through that is going to be full time, so I'll have to extend his hours ultimately. The timing couldn't be better for our circumstances but worse for him.


Carly3869 Fri 26-Jul-13 08:26:45

Does he have to go? What I mean is, are you off to work?

Sheshelob Fri 26-Jul-13 08:23:14

Boo. And now no-one wants to talk to me.

[passive aggressive emoticon]

Sheshelob Fri 26-Jul-13 08:08:26

My poor little boy is suddenly really struggling with nursery drop off. He's been going for six months and settled beautifully, but just in the past few weeks has been clingy and weepy when I go to leave. We've started walking to nursery because the buggy had become such an issue, and he now even walks in clutching his special teddy for extra comfort, but it has made no difference.

I'm pretty sure it is separation anxiety, but he was also bitten quite badly last week. I know this is part and parcel of nursery, but could it have anything to do with his sudden aversion? If so, how can I reassure him that nursery is a safe place for him?

If anyone has been through this, I'd love your advice as it is breaking both our hearts.


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