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Nursery settling in problems - urgent advice needed pls (long)

(11 Posts)
2ndDestiny Fri 16-Sep-11 10:18:36

DS, 11 months, is due to start nursery 3 full days a week next week and has had 6 settling in sessions so far. We thought nursery would be suitable for DS because he?s very sociable, very active and into everything. We chose a good nursery very near home. At nursery he can safely explore everything, and there is a wonderful, huge outdoor space. When the manager took us round she stressed that their approach is very baby-led and caring. So we really thought it was the right choice for DS.

His first 3 days he loved it. I stayed with him for the first 2 sessions while he played and made friends with the staff. The third day he took off without a backward glance so, under pressure from the staff, I left him for almost 2 hours and returned to find him happy and having had a wonderful time, having also eaten his snacks.

Then after the weekend he went for his fourth session. My mum (who cares for him at my home 3 days a week) dropped him off and he was happy to be left, although very over tired (settling in times clash with his nap and the nursery seemed unwilling to adjust the schedule. So he missed his nap). When Mum picked him up he was screaming inconsolably, and we?ve never really recovered from there. The last two sessions I have had to leave him screaming so hard he couldn?t catch his breath, looking absolutely terrified. I?ve been told that he hasn?t played, eaten or napped the whole time he is there. He won?t be put down and cries on and off even in someone?s arms. When I get him home, he is not himself for at least an hour ? he won?t let me put him down, fusses and cries inconsolably and seems very anxious. This is not at all like him, he?s normally a very adventurous baby who loves to explore and hates being restrained. However after an hour or two he is usually back to himself again.

I know it is normal for settling in to take time and be a bit difficult. But I would instinctively prefer a much more gentle, gradual settling in approach, where I stay with him again for a few more sessions until he feels confident again and really trusts the staff. The staff are absolutely adamant that this will only delay/make it harder for him to settle. They say he needs to bond with them and I need to trust them, which I do agree with. But the room leader says things like, ?he?s not really crying, he just has a loud voice and screams a lot?. She says he is not really distressed, but I know he is very distressed because he?s my baby, I can see it in his eyes, in his changes of behaviour, and in the sob shudders that he has still after I get him home. Because she fails to recognize this as real distress, it makes it hard for me to trust her. Having said that, I have seen the staff with the other children and they are caring and attentive, and keep trying to reassure me. Yesterday I tried to stay for 10 minutes, but after 5 minutes I was told to go, and my son was prized away from me. I didn?t resist this, just smiled a big fake smile and said goodbye cheerfully and left, as I didn?t want DS to know I was upset.

Another friend who has worked with children for many years says that I should not stay with him now, as that will only confuse him and lead to further anxiety. She says although we could have taken a more gentle approach to settling in, now that we have started down this road we need to stick with it and give it time to work, not go back to square one. On the basis of her advice, and the advice of the nursery staff, I think I am going to persevere, against all my instincts. I need this to work as I cannot contemplate giving up my career to be a SAHM, it?s just not for me. But I?m worried I am permanently traumatizing him and it is breaking my heart.

WWYD? Do you agree with the advice I?ve been given, or should I insist on taking things much more gently and slowly if I want this arrangement to work? I have to decide what to do before his next session at 2pm today and I?m a wreck.

Isla77 Fri 16-Sep-11 12:15:53

I would insist on a much gentler, staged introduction. It is not right for them to say he will eventually settle. Yes, he may well calm down but this is a traumatic experience for him and is so sad to see. I had this with one of my children and I insisted on settling him in more slowly and after a week or two he was happy to stay. How can being so deeply upset be OK for a little one of his age - or any age for that matter. Do it your way and I am sure he will settle in time. Follow your instincts. You know him best. Good luck.

Isla77 Fri 16-Sep-11 12:18:24

I also work with young children and think his room leader is talking a load of rubbish although probably with the best of intentions because she does not want you to worry. Do what you think is best for your son.

Nevercan Fri 16-Sep-11 13:48:23

The nursery should not have an issue with you have further settling in sessions if needed. You have to feel ok with leaving him. I must admit when I used to drop my dd1 at nine months she did sometimes cry and I would find it difficult to leave but staying around did seem to make it worse. I would always call half an hour later to make sure she had settled down which she had. You definately do not want them in tears the whole time you are gone though as that is very different and not eating etc - that is definitely not good for either of you.

BertieBotts Fri 16-Sep-11 13:58:52

I'm assuming you've asked the staff if anything happened (other than missing his nap) on the fourth day. It seems strange that he was happy and then suddenly he is so distressed. It's hard at 11 months, because he can't talk to you - when something similar happened with DS' childminder I talked to him and worked out that he was frightened on a particular day because she'd had workmen in who used a drill, and he was worried that they were going to be there again. But once I knew this we were able to reassure him and show him the new boiler and that the men weren't coming back, and his CM has said now that if any drilling needs doing in the future she will try if possible to arrange it for when he isn't there, or let me know in advance, or even take them to the park while it is being done.

The nursery don't sound very child led if they are dismissing this or refusing to try the gentler settling in approach for a second time.

2ndDestiny Fri 16-Sep-11 16:55:50

Thanks for all your replies, it helps to hear others' POV/experiences.

Bertie, I wondered if something happened but the nursery staff didn't seem to think so. They said it started when they tried to make him sit in a chair and paint - well he hates being restrained, and was terribly over tired at the time, so that may well have set him off, but I'm not clear why that would be SO overwhelming for him that now he's scared to be left.

I agree with you Isla. If he would settle within 5 or 10 minutes I could handle it but just don't believe it's good for him.

Today I went in and insisted on starting back at square one with a really gentle, staged settling in programme. I met with the most extraordinary resistance from the room leader. I literally had to keep repeating myself like a broken record for the entire hour that I stayed with DS. I was extremely polite but by the end she become defensive, accusing me of want to 'watch the entire daily routine' ('no I'm not interested watching, just in settling my son in at his own pace'), and called my son a 'mummy's boy'.

On the way out, exhausted from this interminable battle of wills, I spoke to the manager, who was wonderful, and instantly agreed a delayed start date and a very staggered settling in process which I am happier with. I don't know if it will work, and I realise we won't get away with no tears at all, but I feel I need to try to do this in a way which is more sensitive to DS' feelings. If it doesn't work I'll review the situation.

However, my main concern now is this room leader, who I find so obstructive. The manager is officially pro a baby-led approach, but the room leader obviously has her own way of doing things and she is quite an authority figure among the staff in the baby room. I want to give it a good shot but I think I have to look into local CMs in case this doesn't work out.

Has anyone else had such an issue with a particular member of nursery staff? Is it possible to get past it?

2ndDestiny Fri 16-Sep-11 16:57:39

oops, sorry for waffling on so much blush

montymoocow Mon 26-Sep-11 10:21:48

I just read your message and see you haven't received any replies.

I'm so sorry you've been going through so many problems, but I wonder if perhaps you need a clean break and try a new nursery. I think personally speaking, I'd feel unhappy leaving my child if the room leader was seemingly so obstructive with parents' wishes and the childrens' needs. To call your little one a "mummy's boy" is disgraceful. It is your child and you know them best. Go with your instinct and stick to your guns. I think too that if the atmosphere amongst staff is difficult and this lady has a very forceful character then this can have a massive effect on the children and their happiness and willingness to go into nursery. Don't forget - attending nursery isn't required by law and it should be enjoyable, not an endurance test, especially at such a very young age.

Good luck - I hope you find a solution!

CombineArvester Mon 26-Sep-11 11:40:04

You need to take your child out of this nursery if his room leader thinks an 11-month old is a Mummy's boy.

Rachael33 Tue 27-Sep-11 12:05:50

Yes, i would take him out. If the room leader is capable of speaking like that around your son I don't think they should be in childcare. Of course he is a mummy's boy - he is 11 months old and SHOULD be attached to you. It would be odd if he wasn't. My son has just started nursery and is 2, and he screams like mad when I drop him off. I've cried each time and it's very hard

notcitrus Tue 27-Sep-11 12:56:05

Not adjusting schedules for a baby's nap sounds wrong to me. Ds started nursery at the same age and would nap when he felt like it - and his nursery said that was fine, they'd save his meals, and in due course he would probably nap at similar times to the others (which happened).
He fell asleep in one settling-in session so when I came to get him they pointed to him in a cot and asked if I wanted to wake him or leave him for a bit - I went for a coffee, came back, and then we had to gently wake him to go home.

The room leader sounds a bit odd but if you trust the other room staff, and have a word and leave a note saying you expect ds to be allowed to nap when he needs, then he'll probably settle soon - they change so much week by week that it's hard to tell what's the nursery and what is just him growing!

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