Feel like a mean mother for moving my child...(19 Posts)
Please help with some advice! After thinking very long and very hard about it, my husband and I have decided to move our son who is currently in Reception class to a new school. We are 100% happy with our decision and honestly feel it is the best thing for our child and family as a whole. It is not a decision we have taken light heartedly.
We have just told our very sensitive son. We were expecting him to be worried etc but he has been in tears ever since we told him. He keeps saying he will miss his school and his friends (he has hated going to school from day 1 so I know this isn't the case - he's nervous, worried and frightened about going to a new place).
As I say, we know we have made the right decision but how can I help my son cope with the transition? Has anyone else been through this? He has started obsessively washing his hands which he has always done when he is distressed. It was heart breaking seeing him so unhappy at his previous school but this is just as bad! He is due to start in 2 weeks as he has 2 weeks recovery from an operation at the moment (which is also making him emotional).
ANY advice is very much appreciated
Can you visit the school bfore he starts so he can see the classroom, meet his new teacher, see where the loos are etc- this may make the 'unknown' less scary.
I am sure, when he starts, you will all be able to relax.
Thanks missmapp - we are all going next week so he can meet his new teacher etc so hopefully he'll feel a little better after then :-)
We moved DS at the end of P1 so a similar age? I vaguely knew one of the mums in the new class through a sports activity and she kindly invited DS to her sons birthday party in the summer holidays. I then asked some of the mums if they would be willing to have "play dates" do that DS knew at least some children before he started. I think knowing someone to play with makes it easier. You could ask on your local board if anyone goes yo that school and would be willing to meet up?
I moved my DS to a totally different school when he was due to move up to Y3.
However he didn't seem overly bothered - so I can't really offer any tips or advice.
I would say that a visit to the school and to meet his teachers would be a good thing sooner rather than later so that he can visualise where it is and plan it out in his head.
I bet after the first day he will be fine.
I would wonder if your DS has general anxiety over new things. It could be that his unhappiness at his present school is just a symptom. If so he will need a lot of help to adjust to the new school.
However it could also be that he has been unhappy but is even more anxious that no school could be "better" and in fact will be worse.
The big problem is he is so little he may find it hard to express his feelings.
could you explain to him your reasons for moving him? assuming it is connected to the problems he had in the other school. talk to him in quite a grown up way and explain what it is about this new school that is different and so on.
Also it might be worth buying a copy of Brian Moses' book 'I'm worried'
I believe these were originally written for helping autistic children communicate their feelings but I bought some of them for my children because it does help raise their concerns and help them talk about them and rationalise them a bit.
I think within a couple of weeks you'll be really happy with your decision. New children are a novelty and everyone wants to be their friend! My DD came home today all excited because she's been asked to look after the new girl.
It is a big deal for a 4/5 year old but, as long as you know you're doing the right thing, he'll soon forget his worries.
I imagine things will be better for him when he's met his new teacher
Did this with DD1 2 years ago & she hasn't looked back. Again, we were sure for various reasons we were doing the right thing, but unlike your son, DD1r was v happy & had actually had 2 years at her school. Telling her was hard & she didn't deal well with it initially. Had a tough first week in Sept that year, but settled really well after that. Still talked about her other school/made comparisons for about 2 months, but after that didn't look back. She's a sensitive anxious child & I did worry about the effect it would have on her. We agonised for months before making our final decision, but knew in our hearts we were right. We took her for a visit before her summer herm ended (but she didn't know about her ove at the time) & played up the things she liked about that visit when we talked about it over the summer. Also gave her a free rein with choosing schoolbag/lunchbox/lunches for a bit to let her feel more in control. She was a year older than your DS, and we spoke openly with her about WHY we felt it necessary to move her and she now completely accepts and agrees with our decision. Good luck-but the thought may well be worse than the move. DD is still best friends with the little boy who approached her first on her first day & told me recently it was because he was kind to her that day, that she loves him ('but just as a friend Mummy!!!").
Stay strong and positive. He will take his cue from you to a large extent and I would find a short time each day to talk calmly and reassuringly about it. Without asking him directly what he's worried about be open so he can ask you questions/open up when he feels able.
Also, allow him to be anxious- I think if they feel allowed to feel the emotion they are feeling then it takes the strength out of it and then, hopefully they can move on to feeling better about it. If he's just had an operation and is feeling vulnerable then it seems completely understandable that he has reacted like this. Hopefully as things settle and he meets his teacher, along with reassuring love and words from you he'll feel better about it and more ready to take it in his stride.
PS The playdates idea prior to him starting is a good idea...DD knew a few children through Nursery & familiar faces helped at the start. These children aren't her 'favourites' now though, so maybe don't push friends on him IYSWIM. Can possibly have a negative effect if he wouldn't choose the children as friends under normal circumstances.
my DS moved at about the same stage in YR - he does tend to worry too - a visit helped a lot and the school were very good - he was fine after the first day -
Wow! Thank you all so much for your kind words and suggestions. The fact you have taken time to help me means a lot. By this evening we were looking at photos on the website of the new school and he was being a little more positive. I guess it's a case of slowly adjusting bit by bit to the idea. I shall follow ALL the advice it has been so helpful. Thank you xx
if he suffers terribly with anxiety and some OCD type behaviour it might be worth looking into Rob Kelly's Thrive book. I have been using it recently to deal with anxiety and phobias and having met Rob I know that people have used it with children. It is basically about changing your thought processes, obviously the younger you become aware of how your brain works and why YOU think the way you do the easier it is to learn to control your thoughts. For a child I believe it works with the parents reading the book and then trying to put the exercises and ideas into practice to help the child. So increasing their self esteem, lowering their social anxiety and helping them feel more in control of their life. just changing the language you use can help. Instead of just saying 'I am really proud of you' you would say something like 'You listened very hard and should be very proud of yourself. We are proud of you because you listened' and it makes them take ownership of what they did and recognise WHY it was a good thing and process their experiences differently. Hard to explain but it might be worth looking into.
We moved ours when they were Y3 / Y5. They both burst into tears when we told them. They have adjusted, but it has been a gradual process. Putting lots of time into play dates and developing friendships has helped a lot, also letting them know that it was still fine to keep up old friendships as well.
We moved when the children were 8 (DD) and 5 (DS) because of work. DD was not very happy at the old school anyway (she loved the teachers and the school work, but the girls were not very nice to her, and she said that at playtime she played with her shadow, as nobody wanted to play with her...), but every time I tried to suggest if she wanted to change school (before we had to move anyway), she would start screaming that she didn't want to leaveher old school. She really doesn't like changes and she is a worrier.
Anyway, she's so happy at her new school. She has lots of good friends, and she is so much more confident. So it was a perfect move for her. Btw, my son is very happy too, but he's much more easy going.
When DD was 6 and worried and worried, I bought her a self help book!!! The title was "what to do when you worry too much". She says that the book has helped her! She still worries a lot, though, but she can cope with it better.
If you can, I would talk to the new teacher and explain your worries. I think that teachers can do a lot at preparing the current pupils to be welcoming and friendly towards the new child. Maybe he could have a pre-selected buddy for the first few days at school? Also, make sure your DS knows all the school routines, and where the toilet is, etc etc, so he doesn 't have to ask, if he's too shy to ask.
Children adjust quickly, so dont worry too much
Does the new school have after school clubs for his age group? Might be worth seeing if there is anything he is interested in, as it might help him make friends.
Fwiw, I work as a volunteer in a primary school, and the kids are falling over themselves to be the one chosen to look after any new child! And, without exception, from what I have seen the child doing the looking after takes their job very seriously, and are always kind and considerate to the newcomer.
We moved DD1 to a different school after she'd done one term of Reception. For her it wasn't a particularly anxious time as she was joining all her nursery friends who'd been given Reception places at the school their nursery was part of - we missed out on a place due to fraudulent behaviour at another, very local school.
Although she was thrilled to be joining her nursery friends DD1 was upset about leaving her new friends. She chose a couple of picture books (in which the main character has her name) and helped her make a book plate/label for them. It said something along the line of, "I will miss you when I go to my new school. Love from DD1." We arranged for her to spend a final day there to say goodbye-the new school place became available during a holiday-and she took the books in.
It's a different situation for your DS but perhaps a "question book" could be made with him? Just an exercise book (decorated by DS if he'd like) in which you/he jot down or draw his questions/worries about the new school. I'd phrase it positively when introducing it i.e. as a way to remember all the things we want to find out about new school and start with 'easy' things e.g. how will the teacher know I have packed lunch? Or, where will I have to hang my coat? Before moving to the more tricky, emotional queries.
The question book could be taken on the visit and used to structure conversations so answers can be written in. It would then serve as a very tangible back-up or reference for DS to refer to/add to over the next few weeks.
I agree let him know he can still have old friends round to play.
As he is so young it is fair to give a message along the lines of 'all parents try to find the best school for their children and we have decided this new one will be better for you as it's smaller/bigger'. In this way you don't get into specific criticisms of the old one and he is clear you have his best interests at heart. What is his favourite subject at school? I would then take a line that the new school is strong in this area be it sport, art or maths.
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