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Separation anxiety - should I be harder on the nursery?

(20 Posts)
1BunOldie Mon 13-Feb-17 16:34:59

Looking for some friendly and fair advice...DS will be 4 in June and is in his preschool year at nursery. He has been going there for 4 full days since 18 months, having been at another nursery prior to that. Since 10 months old he has had separation anxiety and it has taken him much longer than the other kids to settle into each new environment.. Usually 2-3 months of very upset crying/screaming, plus weeks of unsettled sleep and tears in the morning, after which the crying finally stops. I really loved the nursery (it has a very good reputation) and felt very warm towards the staff, who always cuddled him until he calmed down. So we started in the new room in September, feeling v positive but my son still has not settled fully. There is comparatively not such a good atmosphere in there. My son is still crying at drop off after 5 months and has only in the past month stopped pleading with me not to go - at night and in the morning. At first they would leave him heaving with sobs, screaming, on some cushions and not cuddle when I left. Then I had a gentle word with the manager, on more than one occasion (plus his key worker but she is part time) and was told that he was fine whenever she checked and told "pre-schoolers can be very manipulative" and that it was because my son is "brighter than average". After that they made slightly more effort. I know he's fine and happy by the end of the day but I feel they have been very slow to do anything. Finally 3 weeks ago one of them had the bright idea to put him on her lap before the crying started and that really improved things. Last week I got given his developmental review which p*ssed me off because it said that he does not settle because I give him a cuddle on the sofa in the entrance area and I carry him in. Honestly - I realise this is not ideal but I have tried not doing this and he becomes absolutely hysterical!... Should I point out where they could have done things better, or just let it drop?

BabyHamster Mon 13-Feb-17 16:41:15

You should definitely say something!!

My DD starts nursery tomorrow and I should not have opened this thread sad

1BunOldie Mon 13-Feb-17 17:04:03

Aww. Don't take too much heed. It's unusual for kids to have this much anxiety for so long. Good luck for tomorrow. X

HSMMaCM Mon 13-Feb-17 17:54:20

It is unusual for settling in to take so long, or for a 4 year old to need to be carried in. Can he tell you why he's upset?

HSMMaCM Mon 13-Feb-17 17:55:28

Sometimes a quick cheery goodbye works much better for the child than a prolonged drop off.

Ilovecaindingle Mon 13-Feb-17 17:59:47

My ds cried for the first year at nursery at 3!! I handed him over with a quick kiss and the nursery assistant cuddled him til he settled - which was quickly. . Then he was down the whole morning ever time. . I found a quick goodbye was best.

1BunOldie Mon 13-Feb-17 18:34:38

He hasn't been able to tell me why he finds it difficult in the preschool room but I think he has picked up on some negativity from some of the staff in that room. Also to go from cuddles to no cuddles affected him. My drop off in the rooms themselves have always been extremely quick but when we changed nurseries (for good reason) he was very affected and I found the only way I could calm him was to allow him to settle first (hence cuddle for 1 minute on the sofa then going in). He becomes extremely upset otherwise. I think he likes to observe first. Unfortunately I think he's a separation sufferer. It's the same when we occasionally go out for lunch and leave him with a babysitter that he loves.

insancerre Mon 13-Feb-17 18:48:01

He is thriving off the attention from you in the morning
I don't think the cuddling on the ceiling is doing him any good
I think you need to be harder on yourself not on the nursery
He's doing it because it's a habit and he has worked out that you expect it

insancerre Mon 13-Feb-17 19:07:16

Not ceiling grin

1BunOldie Mon 13-Feb-17 20:12:31

It's not the best situation on my part but there has been a big difference since the staff stopped leaving him to cry on his own and pulled him onto a lap distracting him as soon as he arrived in the room. As soon as this happened he stopped begging me not to take him anymore and the crying has reduced to virtually nothing - as it did in every other room he settled to. My point is that if they had bothered to listen to me about why he was crying he would have settled in far quicker.

Nataliamum2five Mon 13-Feb-17 21:39:22

I am going through the same thing!! It really is frustrating. This is the first time I have had to go through this my other children couldn't wait for me to leave. I guess we just have to wait and hope it gets easier!

1BunOldie Mon 13-Feb-17 23:02:29

Nataliamum2five, how old is your LO? Really difficult isn't it? I don't think DS's nursery staff seem to get that he's not putting it on. Earlier HSMMaCM asked if DS could tell me what the problem was. I had forgotten that he was able to say that he was happy in the afternoon but not in the morning when "Mummy and Daddy go away"😢

Rainingchocolate Tue 14-Feb-17 11:33:35

As a Nursery manager and a parent of a child that suffered terribly with separation anxiety, I feel your pain.

Did they put anything in place to help him, a visual timetable to see the passage of time, etc? Cuddling him in the hallway may not be helping in the long run, but you have to do what helps you. They should be gently suggesting ways to ease the transition and certainly not just writing it in his report for you to read.

It sounds like they have not put much effort in to settle him each time. Did his key person do extra moving up visits? In the past we have moved a key person for a week or too for drop offs and then gradually withdrawn the support.

If it helps, my son did this everyday at nursery (mine!) and at preschool. He did it on his visit day to school too, but on his first day he waltzed in without so much as a second glance!

Hang on in there. May be worth asking what prep for the school move they are planning on doing with the children. Ask them how they can ease his transitions. It's their job

1BunOldie Tue 14-Feb-17 11:59:30

Thank you for your comments RainingChocolate. There was good transitioning between rooms by his former key worker (altogether a better room). I don't think he's unhappy during the day now (there were initially some weeks of being unhappy for a few hours) - he just hates the actual point of separation.

Apart from his part time key worker, who was/is often not there in the mornings, no one else bothered to get off their chair to comfort until I complained. Yesterday one of the carers said to me "sorry about this" referring to a boy crying for his mum. It makes me feel totally crap that they probably have this attitude towards my son too. A few months ago I was leaving the room with my son screaming "don't go" and another carer stood in front of him and sighed "oh [DS's name]! Are you presenting again?!"

You're right to point out that school is on the horizon. And that's what I largely want to focus on. It's mostly too late to make up for the past.

As a manager, do you think I should gently point out where they could have done better (although it won't be much good to DS now)? Also, do you think that the analysis by the manager that my son is being manipulative is a fair one? It's not my character to go in guns blazing but I'd like to know whether on the right track...

Littlefish Tue 14-Feb-17 21:20:39

I wouldn't necessarily use the word "manipulative", but I do think that children can be very astute and are able to pick up on the feelings of others, and use this to their benefit.

I agree with RainingChocolate that something like a visual timetable, or a "now and next" board to help him plan what he's going to do, might be useful for your ds and help to distract him in a positive way.

1BunOldie Tue 14-Feb-17 22:21:20

Thanks Littlefish. I'll ask the nursery about that.

QuackDuckQuack Tue 14-Feb-17 22:27:52

It might be too early to try this, but my DD cried every morning in reception when I left until I said that I wouldn't come into her classroom (most parents do) the next day if she cried that day. Suddenly she stopped crying when I took her in.

I really feel for you. If my DD cries at school and I am there it tends to make me cry, which is embarrassing.

user1484226561 Tue 14-Feb-17 22:33:31

why is he in nursery? Does he have to be?

1BunOldie Tue 14-Feb-17 22:44:55

QuackDuckQuack. Thanks it's going to have to be different in Reception - no sofas. I'm quite hard about going quickly once in his room, handing him over. I'll definitely talk to the teacher in advance about strategies.

1BunOldie Tue 14-Feb-17 22:48:25

Yes - I work 4 days. The other day he is me. Plus he doesn't have siblings and I believe it's a good way to be socialised. As there are only a few months left before he leaves, he's there to stay until the end.

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