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How to settle DD at preschool?

(19 Posts)
philbee Thu 06-Oct-11 20:13:14

Hi all. DD started preschool about three weeks ago. She was fine for a few weeks, but this last week has had a blip and wanted me to stay a long time each session, and gets very upset when I try to leave. I feel like it's not sustainable for me to stay a long time each session, and I'm just making it harder for her because she's distracted by my presence. Once I'm gone she plays quite happily, but she will cling on to me, and it's very hard to extricate myself if she's not distracted. Even if I go over and say goodbye when she is distracted, she starts wailing 'please don't go!'. It's heartbreaking.

I think part of it is tiredness, and the school has offered her a morning place instead of afternoons (which we currently do) in case that will make it easier for her. But I feel that she's starting to bond with her classmates, and has some friends there now, so that might just make everything harder for her again. But mornings might make for a more coherent day outside of preschool, and she might have more energy there.

Any ideas about leaving / how to limit how long I stay so she doesn't start to expect me to be there? And whether we should switch?

Lilyloo Thu 06-Oct-11 20:21:16

I work in a pre school and from a workers perspective and a parents i think it is much easier if you say your goodbyes and leave.
The tears always stop ( if they start ) quite quickly. Your dd knows you are leaving her but also knows you are coming back. It is much harder if you hang around and and 'stay for a long time' as you still have to leave and it just prolongs it.
We usually use reward charts which almost always work if it is starting to become a problem.
Do say goodbye , as running when they are distracted is much harder to console than a child whose parent follows a routine each morning.
I would hang up coat , sign in , ask your dd what she feels like doing , organise her with that activity and then say your goodbyes. Make sure her key worker is aware as they should help with the seperation.
Good luck , they are fine when you leave honest smile

Lilyloo Thu 06-Oct-11 20:24:24

We only offer mornings so can't help there other than to say my dd also goes to pre school , she will go to school next year. She doesn't have a nap anymore so would be fine with either session , if your dd will start school in 2013 i would rethink for mornings as she would be more likely to have naps still if not i would stick to what she does and see how she goes on. It is still early days.

philbee Thu 06-Oct-11 20:36:38

Thanks. She will start next year as she's an August birthday. She doesn't nap any more, although has started to have a little nap late morning sometimes now. I'll try to do it quicker. I do feel that it's not helpful being the only parent sitting there well into the session. But it's hard, and if there's really something wrong I am worried that I'm being unfair to her.

Lilyloo Thu 06-Oct-11 20:43:48

It is heartbreaking when they cry and it is very hard. How about trying the quick in and out approach for a week maybe with a reward sticker chart from pre school and see how things are from there.
I would be very surprised if anything was 'really wrong' as she has settled well before now. I guess she has just realised that you can leave her ( takes a while to get used to the fact you do come in and out of her life) and she will be fine. I can imagine mornings would be easier if you are still trying to squeeze a nap in though.

philbee Thu 06-Oct-11 21:01:47

I'll talk to the teacher tomorrow about a reward chart. I was going to try just dropping her off on Monday but I told her that's what would happen and she got so upset on the way there that she wouldn't even go in the room, just sobbed and sobbed and kept running for the gate, and even after she calmed down she kept sobbing again if I made to leave. My concern about changing to mornings is that it would be a different group of children, and they have all started to learn each other's names, and she has some particular friends there. The morning group will all know each other by now, so I feel it will be hard for her to come into an established group. I don't think there's something really wrong, but I think I was so shocked by how upset she was on Friday and Monday that I really worried, and now it's become normal for me to stay a long time. If I could get back to 15-20 minutes, or just leaving when other parents leave, as some do stay a bit longer sometimes, I feel I could cut it down from there. Thanks for the advice.

Lilyloo Thu 06-Oct-11 21:22:58

Hope they can offer you some more help , i think if you look at it from dd's point of view it is about the moment you leave. If you stay for 10 / 20 mins or more you still have to leave and it really does prolong it for her (sorry)
I would hope to see a difference in a week , as you have found be prepared for it to get worse before it gets better.
She is still a baby really and this is her way of communicating that she misses you.
Hope i don't sound too preachy much easier to be sat on the teacher side of the fence than the parent.

exorbitclamp Fri 07-Oct-11 19:13:39

Hi, I work at a pre-school and I also had a really clingy shy child and I know how hard it was to leave. (I didn't and ended up working at the pre-school). Anyway we find that an incredibly speedy handover can really be the best way to deal with this. We even dash out to the car park to grab a child before the crying becomes hysterical. The child then generally calms down within a minute or so.

Whereas if mum is there trying to settle the child the crying can go on for so much longer. You could try this then just ask the pre-school to make a quick phonecall to you to put your mind at rest that your child has settled.

And in all honesty although a few firm friendships can occur at this age, that really is rare and most children are just playing with whoever and whatever engages them in that moment.

Am not a massive fan of reward charts, to be denied a treat because a small childs natural emotions take-over hmm... We all feel under pressure, staff and child if star charts are dependent on behaviour at pre-school. It's dealt with, rewarded at the time.

philbee Sat 08-Oct-11 09:34:59

Well yesterday was ok I think although there was a lot of screaming as we left the house. I said I couldn't stay long, got her settled with drawing and tried to go. She got very upset and I picked her up, which was probably a mistake. Her keyworker said to her that I could stay for a bit until she was happy playing. Then some of her friends were going out so she got her jumper on with them and went outside. After a few minutes I left, but unfortunately she saw me going and I heard her crying, which was pretty horrible. But i left anyway and called about 15 minutes later, and they said she was fine. When I picked her up she was happy, and i said 'you didn't miss me today, did you?' and she said 'no, I didn't miss you.' and has repeated that. Yesterday evening and this morning she's been very worried though, and not happy to let me out of her sight. I've said to her that I left because had to go to see my friend, like I told her about, and because she was happy, and that I'll always come back.

So it's not ideal, I really don't like sneaking off, but I think it's better than sitting there, or having her pleading with me to stay for ages. I'm hoping if that happens a few more times she will get used to it and we'll be able to just say goodbye normally. I talked to DH about the reward chart and he wasn't keen, so we'll see how it goes next week. I think it's just thrown me a bit as she's not normally shy and doesn't need me there all the time. She'll happily set off across the park to nearly out of eyesight without turning back once. But I guess that's because I've always been there and this is the first time she's been on her own without family there. Thanks for the advice. I think we'll stick to afternoons, she does talk about the children there, and she slept until 9.15 yesterday, so i don't think I can face having to wake her up every morning.

mixmouse Sat 08-Oct-11 10:20:07

You really shouldn't creep off, you must say goodbye. Explain what is going to happen, talk to her key worker and make sure that the nursery is supportive, don't hang around this is only prolonging the agony. Has she bonded with her key worker? Her key worker should meet her help you settle her then u say goodbye and leave. And you must stick to the routine. Get the nursery to help you.

philbee Sun 09-Oct-11 19:34:30

Hi mixmouse. Yes, I know. I've talked to DD over the weekend and said that we will tell each other what we plan to do during the time she's at school, that I can't stay long, and that I will say goodbye to her instead of just going. She seems a bit happier with that, but I know she gets panicked as it approaches. I will find her keyworker at the start of the session so DD can talk to her. As far as I know she hasn't bonded with her at all, and I think maybe that's part of the problem. She doesn't seem very aware of the adults there at all.

mixmouse Sun 09-Oct-11 20:22:54

When she bonds with her key worker it will get easier. Keep at it and be strong, it's not like she won't be having fun, she just wants to remind you she misses you. Also don't over analyse and things will go well, promise.

Freezingmyarseoff Mon 10-Oct-11 22:58:14

Philbee I don't have any advice I'm afraid, but just wanted to say I'm in exactly the same position as you. DD settled well at pre-school for the first few sessions but now has become much more clingy. She sounds like your DD in that she is fairly confident in other situations.
I'm just trying to do a quicker goodbye as possible but it's pretty hard to leave when she's wrapped herself around my leg. And it's horrible leaving them when they are crying.
Hope it goes better this week.

MumblingAndBloodyRagDoll Sat 15-Oct-11 13:01:44

My older DD is July born and she was like your DD. It got better towards summer term. It IS hard...but the fast goodbyes are better....I also got her a lunchbox with a photo slot on the front and she could look at meif she wanted then!

I say, lots of praise and hugs when you pick up....and a fast goodbye. I agree you hould stick with the afternoons...she can maybe do a full day in the summer?

naturalbaby Sat 15-Oct-11 13:55:31

my 3yr old has been very clingy and was hysterical at the nursery taster day but his teacher comes to fetch him and takes him to wave out the window and he always stops/calms down and goes with her. the first week i stayed for a bit (they have a bell they ring to start the morning session so i stayed till the bell went) but now i can tell him to go wave out the window and he goes very happily. having tried to leave him at a creche before, if he knows i can stay or stay for a bit then he gets worked up but at nursery he knows there is no option between me and the teacher. when we say it's time to go, it really is.

he had a blip last week and kicked off as we arrived but his teacher came up and i said time to go, bye bye, and she took him to wave out the window. he was hysterical but by the time he'd walked round the corner to the window he was smiling and waving!

TheNoodlesIncident Sat 15-Oct-11 20:56:15

I have this too and all I can suggest is Be Brisk. Quick hug, tell her she will have fun and you'll see her soon, then LEAVE. Do not listen for the sound of sobs! Do not peer through the fence slats (if any) to look for face of misery. Just go.

She will settle more quickly if you are brisk and speak confidently of her having a good time. My DS's pre-school teachers (whom I love with all my heart) report he settles down more quickly on the days I have done this. I did try to comfort and be sympathetic initially but it just drags it out, tbh. It feels really hard-faced but it is kinder and fairer in the long run. Your DD does know you will be back for her, she will forget the initial upset and have fun really quickly.

Lalamumtoone Mon 17-Oct-11 10:01:25

hugs to you - I'm going through a similar thing too. I am trying very hard to do the quick drop off - but as you say - hard when they're gripping tightly onto you!

Hope this week is easier for you

xx

philbee Tue 18-Oct-11 22:26:14

Hi all. Thank you so much for all the advice, it was very helpful, and reassuring that everyone really said the same thing. Just an update to say things are much better now. Last week I started to just take her into the room, get her set up, point out her key worker (thanks for the observation about her bonding - very insightful and I started to talk about her as DD's 'special person' at home, which seems to have reassured her) and friends, and then say goodbye and leave.

First and second days there was a lot of screaming, and she nearly ripped my hair out trying to stop me going as her key worker held her and tried to distract her. But since then she's been much happier for me to leave, and not worried about me going off outside school either. It was hard, but I felt pretty calm about it as you'd all said that was the way to go, as had others IRL, and at least it was a plan! So thanks again, it's really good to feel like she's happier there and not distracted by having to keep me there every day. smile

naturalbaby Fri 21-Oct-11 00:11:24

smile

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