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4.5 yr old 'semi adopted' dd attachment issues - nursery drop off trauma did i do right?

(7 Posts)
dreamylady Mon 21-Sep-09 12:50:46

Be honest please I need to know for next time!

DD has had attachment issues previously - from Feb to June ish this year. Her first Mum died when she was 8 months and I have become her Mum over the last 2 years since moving in with her dad and her 2.5 years ago. Her issues began at the same time she started to call me mummy, coinciding with a few changes including moving house, children leaving her old nursery to start school nursery, and seemingly most significantly me leaving her for 10 mins in a swimming lesson (at the instructor's insistence though I went against my instincts and have regretted it ever since sad)

She started school nursery last week, all seemed fine, a bit wobbly but nothing you wouldn't expect, and nothing I haven't seen her do before at her old nursery. This morning however, it was full blown screaming panic, wrestling with the teachers and trying to pull the door open, the full works. I've never left her in that state apart from with her Dad or my Mum once or twice.

I was calm with her but obviously a wreck as soon as out of sight - almost crying in the school office blush where I went to to ask them to check she was ok. They told me she was doing breathing exercises with one of her new friends (sweeeet!!) and then 10 mins later called back to say she was ok and giggling. phew. Havent had an update since.

Given her past and past behaviour what do people think? advice from people who's children have had similar experiences would be helpful. Some schools of thought say you should give them as much security as you can and let them go when they want to of their own accord so they can cope, others say if you 'pander' to them they'll never let go of you, what's right for children like her??

I think the problem is she doesn't know anyone well there yet and she takes a while to trust new people. Have I abandoned her and made her feel vulnerable all over again? sad oops making myself cry again!

kw13 Mon 21-Sep-09 13:09:08

It sounds as if you did it exactly right. I have no similar experience to offer but the much more mundane usual one of leaving a small child in new surroundings and them getting anxious. There are obviously additional worries here but it sounds as if you (and she) have done a brilliant job. If the nursery are clear about the issues that you have and you get good feedback - then you can rest easy! It's not easy leaving a child - and she will pick up on any vibes that you give out. You are going to need to be confident and constant - which is what you've been doing. You certainly haven't abandoned her - she's with professionals in a caring environment with her peers. Good luck! I'm sure that someone else on here will have relevant experience.

colditz Mon 21-Sep-09 13:13:48

I think as she settledin quickly, you did the right thing. I know you only feel like her "sort of" mum, but to her you are her mummy, and youu did what any other mummy would do - you made sure she was in a safe happy place and you left her there!

I think you treated her like any mother would treat their daughter, you were loving without being neurotic, you had a little cry in the office but you didn't let her see (been there) - sounds like you did your best and that just has to be good enough.

MamaG Mon 21-Sep-09 13:17:05

colditz you're giving some fab advice today. Just read another post of yours on an AIBU


I agree with Colditz OP

sockmonkey Mon 21-Sep-09 13:24:00

DS1 had issues with being left at nursery. The nursery workers were really fantastic. Honestly they do call you back in if your LO is not settling, and are still upset. The first few days/weeks I hung around and got called back in because he was upset.

One thing I found that worked pretty well with DS2 was giving him a watch and showing him what time I would be back. That way he knew it wasn't forever.

Sounds like you are doing the right thing, it is upsetting to leave them when they are clinging on. (It is also a bit upsetting when they wander in without even saying goodbye)

namechange2009 Mon 21-Sep-09 16:17:01

I think you did the right thing

DD was adopted and found parting very difficult. Partly her nature i think, very sensitive and then being adopted gives the sensitive ones something to be more sensitive about IYSWIM.

In DD's case I didn't pander to her as tough as parting was. I kept in my mind that this was the only way she would learn that I will always come back i.e by leaving and always coming back

I never left without a proper goodbye, as tempting as it was to avoid a scene, as I felt this would make her more insecure.

Other things -

I gave my daughter a little keyring with a picture of all of us to put in her bookbag, even if she never looked at it she knew it was there.

I bought the book 'the kissing hand', a book about a raccoon leaving it's mother to go to school for the first time. She loved this and used to put the heart stickers that come with it on her hand/bookbag.

Can you create a ritual around when you leave her? e.g you could put a sticker on her hand, pass her over to a teacher (if they are willing), whatever makes her feel good, the same thing every day so she knows what's coming may make her feel more secure.

Look after yourself, it can really take it out of you. She is lucky to have such a sensitive mum!

dreamylady Mon 21-Sep-09 20:06:25

Thanks everyone for the props - one thing you can usually count on MN for is the honesty too so I feel reassured. namechange thanks especially for the ideas, I will give some of them a go. That book will be winging its way to us soon, no new ones available so there better be some stickers left in the 'preloved' one grin.

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