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how to break the habit of 5yo school drop-off battle

(8 Posts)
hobbeschild Mon 19-Nov-18 09:55:00

My son is in Year 1 and every morning I have a battle to get him through the school door. It has been like this on and off since starting school. He is an anxious person, but my feeling now is that it has just become habitual and attention-seeking. He sometimes has a wry smile and you can see him waiting for the teacher to pay attention and bait him with stickers etc. and then he's fine. By all accounts he is perfectly happy the second I am gone. He is engaged in activities and has fun with friends.

He tells me he hates school, but when I try to get to the bottom of it, there is no hint of anything sinister going on, he would just rather be with me.

I have tried being sympathetic and I have tried being firm. It is exhausting and upsetting for us both every morning. The teacher ends up dragging him off me. It must be tiresome for her and disrupting for the other children. (If he was in tears and distraught after I left, obviously I would be more worried about him than everyone else, but as I say, I think it is just a bad habit.)

Anybody dealt with and managed to eliminate this?

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JiltedJohnsJulie Mon 19-Nov-18 14:03:01

Have you spoken to his teacher to see what they can suggest?

FurryGiraffe Mon 19-Nov-18 15:01:50

We had similar with DS1 when in reception (he's Y1 now). Like your DS he's anxious by nature. He was tearful every morning but fine the second we left and we got to the point where we were convinced it was habit/a cycle of negative thinking about school. We did a reward chart for fuss free drop off, which broke him out of the habit within a couple of weeks.

I should add- I was really wary about a reward chart- I really didn't want to send the message that being upset/sad is bad behaviour, or that it was wrong for him to feel upset and communicate that to us. But we were out of other ideas and I was positive it was just habit rather than there being a real problem. And it worked really well for us.

hobbeschild Tue 20-Nov-18 10:50:13

Yes, I have spoken to his teacher, and she tries giving him stickers or a job to do, both of which help, but he still waits to be dragged off first. She was shocked to hear he says he hates school, because he is so happy whilst he's there.

I will give a reward chart a go. Thanks.

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Lindtnotlint Thu 22-Nov-18 21:34:31

Appreciate may not be practical, but could someone else drop off for a bit? We found that helped...

hobbeschild Tue 11-Dec-18 09:17:01

The reward chart worked for a couple of days and then back to normal.

I've tried getting my husband to take him to school instead of me, but that just transfers the problem to our front door (and the teacher has more patience and more distractions at her disposal than my husband does).

I've tried meeting friends at the gate and going in together. It doesn't make any difference.

I appreciate that there are probably no other options, but I'm very down about this, so bumping to see if anyone else has a brain wave...

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Coco224 Tue 11-Dec-18 20:16:16

I’m going through very similar with my 5 year old (also boy, seems to be a common thing with this age of boy!) he is in primary 1 and since the start of term and he regularly goes through spells of being inconsolable at school drop off when I leave. Then other days he will be ok, he never goes in excitedly but rather I think he realises he has to go. I’m not sure what to suggest as he has now started to say he hates school, is scared of older boys (have spoken to teacher and she’s keeping an eye on it) and his behaviour at home has become more and more difficult. He’s also started saying he is unwell at school so that I have to pick him up. Today he said he wasn’t feeling well, and to be fair he didn’t really look to well, and that he didn’t want to go to a school, so i agreed today that he wouldn’t go on understanding that if he was in fact Ill then there was no tv/iPad. The relief when I said he didn’t have to go to school (of course as I thought he is absolutely fine and not unwell...) but I’m sad for him that he clearly really doesn’t like going.
Sorry I don’t have advise, I just wanted to let you know you’re not alone x

hobbeschild Thu 10-Jan-19 19:09:01

Coco224, thank you for your sympathy, especially as it sounds as if you are having a worse time than me really.

I have made a little bit of progress and thought I would share in case it helps you. He is a bit better if I get the teacher to tell him what is going to happen that day. She goes through the day (register, then phonics, snack, etc. all the way up to hometime). I think that to them it seems like it is going to be eons before they can see us again, and having it broken down at least helps my son to accept it (begrudgingly, still with a little shove!).

I actually spoke to a head of another school and she told me that for really bad ones, they make a laminated strip representing the day and then stick laminated "lessons" onto it with velcro, and let the child rip them off as and when each is done. Sounds very therapeutic to me! But I know my son is fine as soon as I leave. It might help you though.

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