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PLEASE HELP!! 5 yr old daughter distraught when left at school

(35 Posts)
rosiegee Thu 24-Sep-09 00:53:09

Hi all

I'm having a really tough time with my daughter, who's just started Year 1.

Every morning she has to be pulled off me, screaming "Mummy, mummy" and I leave the class holding back the tears.

Over the weekend she cried a few times, saying that she didn't want to go to school and missed me, and some days she's been upset when she's woken up. Mostly though, it's the moment of parting when she really gets distraught. She says she just misses me and really wants to be with me.

The teacher says that she's always fine just after I leave, but my daughter tells me that she was "Upset until lunchtime" or that she sat in the book corner on her own while everyone else did handwriting because she felt too sad to join in.

She also told me that one day the TA was comforting her and the teacher needed the TA to go elsewhere and said "Just leave her", (which the TA did) which I don't like the sound of.

She's also been upset a couple of times when I've picked her up at the end of the day, which also makes me doubt their assurances that she's fine.

My husband and I went in to speak to her teacher on Monday morning and we asked if the TA could take her off us in the morning, and check in with her a couple of times during the morning, something our daughter said would make her feel better about going in. The teacher said that would be fine.

However, on Tuesday and Weds morning, the teacher herself marched over before the assistant had a chance to get to us and whisked my very upset daughter away. This morning, my daughter grabbed my hand in an attempt to stop me from leaving, and the teacher sternly told me to "Let go of her hand". The teacher is in her 50's and has been teaching for years, and I get the feeling that she has "seen it all before" and thinks that we're mollycoddling her.

I feel that a more gentle approach would work better for our daughter and have never been precious about her - she's had clingy phases but has mostly been a happy conident little thing, so it's very upsetting to see her like this.

I have a 9 month old daughter as well, who I am at home with, so there may be some jealousy there, but that doesn't seem to come up when she's talking about why's she upset.

I think a big part of the problem may be that she doesn't have any one in her class that she particularly "clicks" with yet, as her school has a system of rearranging the classes from Reception into Year 1 (there are 4 classes of 30 in each year, so it's a big school) which has meant that she is in a class with only 4/5 people from her reception class last year, none of which are her close friends. Does anyone else have this type of system in place in their children's school? It seems uneccesarily unsettling to me.

I also feel letdown by the teacher, as she seems to have totally disregarded our requests.

I'm going to go and see her teacher tomorrow afternoon and would really, really appreciate any comments / advice on how best to broach this with her. Sorry it's so long!!

FlamingoDuBeke Thu 24-Sep-09 00:56:22

Oh dear sad

Would home education factor as an option at all? It really seems like she's not ready to be leaving you yet.

choosyfloosy Thu 24-Sep-09 00:56:41

Really sorry to hear about this. A friend of ds's is going through this at the moment.

The only thing I would say is that the way your dd's teacher is handling this is CERTAINLY not the only way. I hope you will get some good advice from others.

fortyplus Thu 24-Sep-09 01:35:20

My advice would be never to step across the threshhold of the classroom. Let your dd go in and walk away with a cheery wave and 'see you later darling' or whatever is natural for you. The problems always arrive when the over-anxious parent thinks they're helping the child by going into the building with them. You need dd to make that conscious step into the building away from you. That will avoid the separation anxiety you are causing by leaving the building.

Honest... believe me... been there, seen it , done it, got the t-shirt! smile

choosyfloosy Thu 24-Sep-09 01:40:50

fortyplus, i've no doubt that's good advice and i might see if my friend would consider it [going to tread very carefully on that one], but i REALLY object to the use of the term 'over-anxious parent'. Your post would be just as informative without it in my opinion.

right, as you were...

fortyplus Thu 24-Sep-09 09:28:47

No offence intended - but I've done it myself and seen it dozens of times. Anxiety is exactly what it is - that feeling of anticipating and dreading the moment of separation. So the parent does everything to calm and reassure the child, believing it's the right thing to do when all it achieves is to make the parting more painful for the child. Far better to adopt a brisk, no nonsense approach and recognise that the situation is being caused as much by the parent as by the child. But I know just how far that goes against the grain. Believe me - my ds1 got to the point where i was so sympathetic that he started puking on the doormat as we went out! Once I managed to achieve - 'Right - come on - time to go - bye!' He didn't have time to build the situation up in his mind and it wasn't a 'loss' to him to leave me.

potplant Thu 24-Sep-09 09:37:48

I have to agree with Forty - sometimes the parents do make it a bit worse. The longer you spend comforting her, the more time you are giving her to work herself up into a state.

Its easier said than done and I'm as guilty as anyone. In fact I did it yesterday - took my DS inside the school cos he didn't want to go. He then started crying and was saying 'don't leave me mummy'. A teacher I didn't know came along and said very firmly to me 'Just leave him'.

The transition to Year 1 is very hard, my DS is certianly struggling with it and Iknow lots of his friends are too.

potplant Thu 24-Sep-09 09:38:43

Also to add - I cried buckets on the way home after I left him!

rosiegee Thu 24-Sep-09 09:57:26

Thanks for all your replies ladies!

She was really good this morning - the teacher didn't come over and the TA hung back a little, and after a little coaxing, she went over to her with no tears. Very proud of her!

I'm not too keen on the "over -anxious" parent moniker either Fortyplus! I'm not a lingerer and I'm all for brisk, no nonsense goodbyes, but in her school we are encouraged to go in to the classroom and help refill water bottles, put bookbags in drawers etc.

You're definitely right about the child doing the walking away though, she responded much better to being able to go over to the TA herself rather than being yanked away from me.

Do you think it's fair enough to ask the teacher to lay off the yanking and see how she gets on?

labyrinthine Thu 24-Sep-09 10:11:03

I don't think over ~ anxious is fair actually,you are being led by your child,it is her who doesn't feel comfortable leaving you yet.

I have noticed that the more sensitive children then often go on to be the very bright ones ~ and they have trouble separating probably because they are anticipating the day ahead etc more than some children who just dash in.

Parents tend to be divided on this issue but it doesn't matter ~I for one have been there,I have a very happy secure child and just wanted to give you a little support.

We did a mon to fri chart and put the stars on it when he had been at school that day.

I specifically asked the school to be positive to him and use distraction [instead of treating it as a discipline issue iyswim] as them telling him off for clinging on to mummy or being dragged in shock did not work well.

You will get there but don't let it dent your confidence and don't look for a "reason" ~ in yr3 [and since yr 1] my ds is one of the most flexible,confident children in his class who is happy to go to breakfast club etc anytime.

Don't let it get you down

labyrinthine Thu 24-Sep-09 10:14:16

He was very devoted and close to me then,and still is ~he says about that time, "I just didn't want to leave mummy and it was so much more fun at home".

rosiegee Thu 24-Sep-09 12:06:39

Ah thanks labyrinthine

It's good to hear a success story, and you've strengthened my resolve to tell the teacher I don't want anymore dragging or yanking.

Wish me luck!

MollieO Thu 24-Sep-09 12:14:41

Not that it is any consolation I'm having similar trouble with ds in year 1. I ran out of the classroom the day before yesterday as he was pinned to the floor by both his old reception teacher and the year 1 TA. Very very unhappy little boy and has been behaving appallingly (two visits to the head and we've only been back two weeks). Usually very happy and model pupil so this has been hard.

I think it is quite a change from reception to year 1 and it just takes time to adjust. I'm counting the days until half term and giving lots of praise on the (occasional) day he doesn't cry.

As far as friends goes, ds has none and never plays with anyone. He said the same in reception but then was happy to go to school. I asked his year 1 teacher and she said that there are no particular friendship groups (which I know isn't actually true).

I figure it is just a question of getting through the next few weeks and hoping that it settles down.

LadyOfTheFlowers Thu 24-Sep-09 12:18:35

Have not read all posts yet, but in response to OP, DS is convinced his reception teacher 'doesn't like him'.

Luckily, 3 days out of 5, the TA is the lady who used to be his keyworker in pre-school who he adores, but sometimes she is busy with other children or in the other classroom.

DS is the youngest again, as he was in pre-school and is not terribly confident - he tends to hang back on the sidelines for a bit before gently joining in with any play - watching this breaks my heart alone.

His teacher is very 'hard faced' I would say. Kids seem a bother to her though she has 2 of her own of a similar age.
A couple of mornings DS has been upset and she is very 'Come along now' and has dragged him away crying.

He was badly hurt at the end of week 2 and the TA and myself who were trying to comfort him at pick up time (it happened just before 3pm) were made to look and feel like overreacting idiots.

He has since said a few things to me I don't like the sound of and I will give it a few more weeks and if it doesn't stop I will be having words I think.

These children are only 4 for heavens sake - upset has to be expected.
Hope you manage to sort it soon. Although DS is not as upset as your DD, I think I know how you are feeling.

stealthsquiggle Thu 24-Sep-09 12:19:51

By Y1 I would be inclined to go the bribery star chart route - it worked a charm for several of DS's class.

rosiegee Thu 24-Sep-09 12:37:24

I'm really sorry to hear that your little boys are struggling too, Lady and Mollie

Why be a Reception / Yr 1 teacher if you are not sensitive to the needs of little ones? Thanks God for TAs eh? My daughter only has her in the morning though - are your children's there all day?

Stealth, we have already gone down the bribery route - cold hard cash is promised if a tearless departure happens, to be spent on Brighton Pier at the weekend....doesn't seem to be having that much effect so far though.....

bruffin Thu 24-Sep-09 12:51:34

When DS was reluctant/tearful in YR1, he could go in slightly earlier with "an important job to do" which was sharpening pencils. YR1 is a bit of shock for them because they go from mostly playing to a more formal setting.

Elk Thu 24-Sep-09 13:21:11

Tactics that worked for my over-sensitive/neurotic dd1 are:

Nursery/reception - important job, she was pot plant waterer, I think the plant had to be cahnged frequently as she killed it through over watering.

Year 1 - I dropped her at the front door of the school and she went and found the TA, who gave her a sticker for'leaving mummy with a smile' She did this every day for a month and then was given a certificate to celebrate 'Coming to School with a Smile'.

Year 2 - goes off quite happily once I have waved goodbye at the window. (Just as well as dd2 is normally pulling my arm out of its socket in her eagerness to get to nursery)

fortyplus Thu 24-Sep-09 21:10:22

rosiegee 'Do you think it's fair enough to ask the teacher to lay off the yanking' [shock' That sounds terrible! To be honest I wonder if the best solution is for the school to keep parents out of the classroom when dropping off in the morning. At my sons' primary school we didn't read in class with our own children for the first half term of yrs R and 1 either. Gave them time to settle in to the school environment without worrying about mum (or dad) walking away and leaving them.

Heated Thu 24-Sep-09 21:23:52

DS had a few collywobble moments in reception and was a lot better when he chose to leave me at the gate, rather than me leaving him inside school. I always say, "You know where I'll be, waiting for you?" and he points. He likes the idea that I stand there all day waiting for him!

And actually what made it so much easier - but appreciate not everyone has this option -is having someone else drop them off in the morning! Once he was with his childminder on the days I work, he had no wobbles at all.

backtoworkthistime Thu 24-Sep-09 22:58:28

fortyplus~ I was surprised by your post ~ we don't go in the classrooms at any time,we don't read with the children in school,we do it at home.
Also even in reception the children are only taken to the door ~ and from age 4 to 5 [the upper reception] they must walk in the long way round alone.
They start school the term before they are 4 here.

fortyplus Sat 26-Sep-09 22:30:11

Well that's what I think is best but when you read some of these they are going in to help with coats, fill water bottles etc.

m1nky Sun 27-Sep-09 12:42:50

I'm a teacher and I understand the worries that parents have when they leave their children in the classroom when they are upset. I have seen both sides of the story.

The teacher should be understanding of your needs as a parent and should follow your requests, although I can understand why they haven't done that. It's difficult having 30 children and its difficult knowing what to do for the better. They just want the child to get into the school and to enjoy their day there. I know some teachers are scary though, children don't like them. The way I look at it, most children will get on with a teacher, but some, for whatever reason, don't necessarily bond. You've gotta remember there are however many people in that room, not everyone will get along.

I'd keep an eye on the situation, but from the sounds of it, you're daughter is starting to enjoy it a bit more. Maybe if the problem carries on you could talk to the teacher and request that you know what is going on during the week before the week starts. You knowing whats going on will mean that you can help your daughter prepare more for that week. Only a suggestion tho smileI know it worked for me at school.

mrz Sun 27-Sep-09 17:52:59

Could someone else take your daughter to school for you? I have found that children who appear distraught leaving mum happily leave an aunt or grandmother.
I had a little girl in my class who was just like your daughter and her mum really worried, one day I went into the corridor with her and after a couple of minutes told her to look and there was her daughter happy and smiling with her friends. It made it easier for her to leave knowing her daughter wasn't sobbing all day as she had thought.

Summersoon Sun 27-Sep-09 20:30:14

Hello Rosiegee, Lady and Molly,

I am sorry to hear of your troubles. These things will pass but it is very tough while it is going on!

I never tried this particular remedy but somebody suggested it on another MN thread and I thought that it sounded quite promising: give them a very small-something (e.g. a friendship bracelet, a little teddy-bear or similar to stick on their back-pack or pencil case) as a little "piece of you" that they take to school with you. Tell them that of course you can't come in with them but this bracelet/bear/whatever is there to come in with them instead. Don't know whether this would help (has anyone tried doing this?) but it sounded quite good to me!

Good luck - I hope that things will get better for you very soon!

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