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separation anxiety, are there any others out there?

(15 Posts)
Annieandclarabel Thu 30-Aug-07 11:39:34

DS, aged almost 3, who is normally sociable and happy has suffered terrible separation anxiety when attending nursery. I have therefore been advised to stay but the staff don't seem to spend time with him because of this and have advised getting a special needs teacher in, which is of course concerning me. Any tips anyone?

Stroo Mon 03-Sep-07 18:04:41

My DS was just three and used to scream when i left him - hanging off door handle and everything. In the end i decided he wasn't ready and left it for a year.

Couldn't keep him away then - he loved it.

Admittedly i could leave it a year as a sahm and with a younger child too.

What does he do? A special needs teacher seems a bit overkill to me.


Annieandclarabel Tue 04-Sep-07 12:59:48

He cries, gets very upset and keeps looking for me. He also has a memory like an elephant so after the first time of this happening he reacts the same way every time I leave the room! The nursery were also concerned that he didn't speak though he never stops at home! I also thought the SN teacher was a bit OTT and thought if the staff got to know him better might help but felt like i was being pushy mum suggesting this.

juuule Tue 04-Sep-07 13:04:41

If you don't have to, I don't see the point of putting him through this. Is it possible to put it off for a while?

Annieandclarabel Tue 04-Sep-07 13:13:21

Yes, we are just about to move house so think I might put it off till a little while after the move. Its difficult because I want to do the right thing for him and want him to socialise more but mums and toddlers now seems a bit young,( now more mums and small babies) and everyone else seems to have their children in nursery by now. Guess that is more me bowing to pressure tho!

LucyJones Tue 04-Sep-07 13:13:25

I would put it off.
A friend's dd didn't like it at first so they left it a term and she was fine.

LadyPenelope Tue 04-Sep-07 13:13:51

Asking you to stay for a while is great for helping your DS to settle. The staff should be using that time to help him get to know them and the routines, and allowing you to gently step back from doing everything with him. (Eg, when he gets interested in trucks or trains, they play with him while you take a step back. Then when he turns round to see you, you are still there and he gains confidence.) If they are using it as an excuse to ignore your son, it seems wrong. Also does not sound like your DS needs a special needs teacher. He's a normal pre-schooler, and sounds like he needs a bit more support to feel comfortable being left.
If you can, I would say give it a break for a while and perhaps do a few activities with your ds instead. Then later, perhaps try another nursery ... this one doesn't sound like they appreciate the range of different personalities and natures children can be!
Good luck!

Annieandclarabel Tue 04-Sep-07 13:29:01

Thanks for that, sounds like good advice. In fact, bonding with him over some trucks and trains was what I suggested to them as he is completely wheel obsessed. Unfortunately, they did this for a few minutes then seemed to forget about it for the following sessions. I suppose I hoped that they would have come up with some of the ideas with which to help him fit in. Am probably going to move to different nursery when we move house and will be very careful about which one i choose next time!

Rynny Fri 14-Sep-07 23:19:22

My son is 3 too and is suffering from terrible separation anxiety. He started a new preschool this week and was without me today and yesterday and basically screamed the whole hour. Unhelpfully, the teacher has just said they're concerned about the effect he's having on the other children. Don't know what to do...don't want to upset him but also don't want him to miss out. I think there's too much pressure for little ones to grow up and conform. He too looks like he's going down the special needs route simply because of the way he behaves in strange situations when he's perfectly happy and really bright at home - ooh the stress! I sympathise - just hope that we (and you!) get it sorted so everyone's happy.

Flocci Sat 15-Sep-07 20:34:42

DS started preschool when he had just turned 3 - was the first time he was ever away from me and ended up being sick through crying. After two days of PS saying don't worry, he'll be fine I realised that was horseshit - some are fine and some are not. Was so bad that even at home he wouldn't let me out of sight and the mere mention of PS got him completely hysterical.

I didn't want him to miss out so I TOLD the PS that I would be coming in with him for as long as necessary. I wanted him to see that it was a place where he could have fun, and also get used to all the routines and things they do and then start dealing with the separation thing.

I had to go in every session with him for 4 weeks and during that time I had to really push the staff and make sure they didn't ignore him. It was a real effort to constantly be saying to him and them what to do and that I was there next to him or gradually withdrawing to the corner of the room. Eventually I was confident enough to leave for 15 minutes but I made sure that a specific member of staff would be with him for that time. For a few more sessions we did the same thing but for longer and longer, making sure that a specific teacher would look out for him, and he knew that there was a special teacher for him to go to. Now we have gone back in September and I am gobsmacked that he has just strolled in. Admittedly he is quite likely to stay close to the teachers and he certainly dones't worry about me leaving.

I really think the key was letting him get used to the new place and people and routines and seeing that it is a good place before you deal with the separation thing otherwise it is too much in one go. I remember looking through the window the first day and seeing him and he was not so much upset as just totally bewildered - he just didn't know what was happening!

I know so many people who have had this problem and for me every time the PS is at fault. I know they have limited resources but they don't seem to appreciate that a lo away from mum for the first time needs a little extra attention and a child or teacher should be clearly nominated to be their point of reference and security auntil they get their confidence.

Annieandclarabel Sat 15-Sep-07 21:03:49

wow Rynny and Flocci can really empathise with your situations.

It is sooo crap that they would even mention the effect your poor little DS was having on the other children. <angry> Like there isn't enough pressure...!

I think as you said Flocci, it is very much bewilderment rather than anything else for the children who experience this anxiety. Personally I think preschools should have a specific member of staff to deal with the new starters and tht they should be trained in how to deal with anxiety issues. What do you think?

Rynny Sun 16-Sep-07 18:45:42

It's nice to know others understand and it's not just us going through it.

I think it very much boils down to the attitude of the preschool and the previous place he was going to was so much more positive and DS (getting the hang of this now!) did have a count me in worker there who has made all the difference. Think the best bet is just to go back to where we were going before as we seemed to be making real progress there. That preschool doesn't feed into the infant school he will be going to but I believe that isn't really important as they soon make new friends.

I've decided it really isn't worth all the stress it's putting on me and DS and we're going to chill out and go back to our Wednesdays and Fridays at the nice place!

Annieandclarabel Sun 16-Sep-07 20:08:16

Good for you Rynny. Hope it all goes ok for you x

EBAB Fri 21-Sep-07 00:43:49

Annie, my ds was equally bewildered. He started last term, a few months before his third birthday, and after a few sessions going happily, became clingy, with a quivering lip, and at home would say, "But I've been to pre-school. I don't need to go again." I started staying there, uninvited. I felt really unwelcome, and the first time, had to wait outside! (I wasn't welcome in the main room, and the back room was being used.) I was consistently told that he was settling well, would be fine once I'd gone, and that he was just playing up to me. Grrr.

By the end of last term, ds was going reluctantly, I felt like a lemon down there, and like they just didn't 'get' me; they and I are singing from a different hymn sheet regarding separation.

So this term, we're having a break. The manager was taken aback at our cancelling, and - I thought rather patronisingly - said she hoped that dp and I had given our decision a great deal of thought, and were we aware of the benefits of pre-school for our son? Double grrr.

Ds has been much happier this term - at home/out and about with me and having playdates with friends - and only today started to talk tentatively about changing his mind about pre-school.

I'm totally with Flocci on this. If you're going down the school route, the most important thing is that your child learns to enjoy the experience of school and structured learning - which they'll be with for 13+ years - before dealing with the separation anxiety, in their own time. I only wish our pre-school - which, for the most part, I really like - were more informed about separation anxiety, and sensitive about handling it.

Annie, I can't believe they're thinking of getting a SN bod in for your ds. It sounds to me like he has a really secure attachment to his mum, and will separate comfortably on his terms, in his own time. This is not a SN issue!

Stay as long and as much as you can, weaning yourself away as your ds's confidence grows - or else knock it on the head for a while, and try again later on. I like Flocci's approach. Good luck, Annie.

Annieandclarabel Sat 22-Sep-07 18:00:20

Thanks very much EBAB, and I hope all goes well for you too. DS is starting a new place in a few weeks as think there is no going back on the old one. Will keep you posted!

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