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Toddler terrified of other children, due to a bad nursery experience!

(30 Posts)
JC2021 Sun 14-Feb-21 07:01:28

We tried nursery with our Son just after age 2 - I liked it when I first looked around, it has excellent reviews but the day he started I had bad vibes - they didn’t let me in due to COVID although on email the co-manager said I could come in with him to settle for 30mins.

He didn’t have a key person as they were off sick that day - I had emailed them before he started and said he was sensitive type so gently easing him in was best way.

When I collected him after 1.5hrs his right cheek was bright red although it had been slapped - I questioned the lady and asked what happened? Whilst consoling my distraught boy. She had no explanation and said they were cuddling maybe that’s why his cheek was red - he is not a cuddly type especially with ppl he doesn’t know at all.

I asked how he was and she said she introduced him to a boisterous girl and he was quite shy but was great other than that. Why on earth do that?

I get the feeling he was hit by this said girl and I wasn’t told. I can’t prove it - it happened in November

Since that nursery experience he hasn’t been the same around other children in the playground or anywhere - I honestly don’t know what to do.

He runs behind me, literally scared - won’t interact. He is only 2! I feel awful. Lockdown hasn’t helped.

That particular nursery were awful the way they treated me at the door and the day he first attended to settle (although rated very highly on Day Nurseries??)

Ofsted was non existent (although past ones were outstanding) not sure why I didn’t research it properly.

We viewed a new nursery recently to try again but soon as we entered he cried and was clinging to me.

Do I wait until he is 3?? Or try and suffer a tough settling stage??

Thx in advance.

OP’s posts: |
Pleaseaddcaffine Sun 14-Feb-21 07:05:49

I'm sorry op but these things happen. Maybe a childminder? They have much smaller numbers and it's more home style which he may like if shy.
My boy was only 6mths when I returned to work and I picked a childminder who I knew locally as I felt he would settle easier with her.

chestnutSquash Sun 14-Feb-21 07:06:46

If nursery isn't essential I would keep him with you. If you absolutely need childcare so you can work, look for a child minder. He is only little and has clearly had a very frightening experience.

PCar20 Sun 14-Feb-21 07:12:40

I disagree. You’re just going to reinforce his shyness if you try minimising his contact with groups of children. Find a suitable nursery who understand the issue and can respond accordingly

chestnutSquash Sun 14-Feb-21 07:21:18

He is 2. It is perfectly normal for him to be not ready to cope in a nursery setting.

Restlessinthenorth Sun 14-Feb-21 07:28:07

OP, said gently, it sounds like you are projecting your own anxieties about your little boy being in nursery on him. Little kids have encounters like this all the time. As parents we need to show our children how to deal with them to build resilience. There is no way the nursery could shield your child from the "boisterous" girl. The kids are all there together and will interact at will. You will never stop him from having interactions like this as it's the nature of tiny humans who are exploring the world. I suppose due to covid he won't have been in soft plays or similar, but things like this happen all the time where small children are.

The other option is a childminder but he will be in equally close contact with other children who you have no control of either. I preferred the safeguard of a nursery environment but everyone is different. Maybe to settle your mind look at alternative provisions to help you decide?

whatswithtodaytoday Sun 14-Feb-21 07:32:15

Children will often be shy at first, it's very normal. And I haven't been inside my son's nursery since last March, even after the long first lockdown break (he had only been going regularly for a month so probably didn't remember). I am very happy with his care though, the staff are lovely.

He may have been slapped by the girl - these things happen - and the nursery certainly should have seen and let you know, but nothing you've said would concern me. If you want to keep him at home a while longer that's fine, of course.

CeibaTree Sun 14-Feb-21 07:35:51

Even if the other girl had slapped your son, his reaction is very extreme to be still affected months later. Children of that age tend to forget things quite quickly. Did he avoid social contact before the day at nursery? It sounds like there might be something else going on - perhaps a good idea to speak to your GP about this.

PracticingPerson Sun 14-Feb-21 07:39:57

Ok, just passing on my experience in case it helps.

My son started preschool and I found the behaviour of other children not ideal and the staff not on top of this. I withdrew him. I made sure to be very very positive about other children in the things I said and the socialising we did. When he entered school it was absolutely fine.

MindyStClaire Sun 14-Feb-21 07:44:54

Was he only there for 1.5 hours? Even the most sociable two year old won't settle that quickly.

It's understandable that he's shy around other children - my DD turned two during the first lockdown and very quickly became similar despite having been at nursery full-time for over a year beforehand.

If it weren't for covid I'd suggest toddler groups you could go to as well. Given the way things are, I guess your choices are either childcare or waiting in the hopes of more activities being open in the summer.

If you go with childcare, I'd say the more hours the better as they settle quicker when they go more often - one day a week, say, is a long gap between sessions and they can struggle with that

FishWithoutABike Sun 14-Feb-21 07:49:30

Is there a childminder you could use?

MessAllOver Sun 14-Feb-21 08:22:18

If you trust the nursery staff, you should be able to discuss your DS's issues and fears with them and be confident that they are supporting him. Staff-children ratios are incredibly high at nurseries for a reason.

To give you an example, my 3yo DS is not shy but he can be a bit overly friendly and "in your face" with other children. He's always just so delighted to see his friends at nursery that he bounds up to them, hugs them, wants to play but doesn't always recognise when they want space or don't want to join in. I expressed my concerns about this to the nursery and they assured me it wasn't age-inappropriate but we are working together to gently put in place some boundaries for DS so he interacts appropriately with other children and respects their personal space. If I had a shy child like yours, I would want to know how the nursery were encouraging appropriate supervised play with other children, especially the quieter ones, so my son didn't feel overwhelmed. And also supporting him in any solitary play so he doesn't feel left out or lonely. I'd be more upset if I felt the staff were leaving him unhappy or not clued up about whether he's enjoying himself than about the slap... small children hit and push sometimes and it's hard to prevent it (though it should be dealt with appropriately and your DS comforted).

I don't think the solution is to pull your DS out. Better that he is properly supported in interacting with other children. But if you don't have confidence in the nursery staff to do this, then you should definitely move him to another setting.

Bunnybigears Sun 14-Feb-21 08:28:44

Does he have to go to nursery? But also you seem to have decided to not like nursery then let little things like a red cheek which could have happened multiple ways be the 'proof you are looking for.

2021mumma Sun 14-Feb-21 09:07:51

It takes a while for them to settle ours took 6-8weeks and now he loves going in.

If you feel in your gut something isn’t right then look into other options.

mindutopia Sun 14-Feb-21 10:47:42

I think you are massively projecting here. It can take months to settle into nursery, especially at 2 as it's much more difficult than for a baby. Kids pushing, pinching, biting each other is unfortunately quite normal and it will happen (if that's even what happened). If it becomes a pattern of one child targeting another, that's an issue and any good nursery will tackle it. But mine is very happy at nursery and very well adjusted, sociable, outgoing, and he still occasionally comes home sometimes with scratches, bite marks, being poked in the eye with a stick, etc. It happens. But it's also very normal for 2 year olds to be nervous around other people and children. It's part of them figuring out their boundaries and learning to be independent and know what's safe. Realistically though, at that age, their long term memory is not great and he probably doesn't even remember that day. Nursery is great for their socialisation though and if you think he would benefit, I'd give it another go at a nursery you feel comfortable with. Mine have both loved it and it's been wonderful for them.

supersonicginandtonic Sun 14-Feb-21 13:13:26

I personally think it's a good thing that they don't let parents into nurseries during COVID. I've not been on my daughters nursery since it reopened last June and she's only 19 months.
Are you anxious OP? Your son is going to have accidents, scuffles and other things happen to him. We cannot protect our children from everything. My DD was bitten last week, but I understand that the children are only little and with sending her to nursery there is the risk of this happening.
I would definitely send hom somewhere so h can get used to other children and socialise it you and him, are going to struggle when he goes to school. It's also not fair on the other children in his class if he takes a staff member due to cryin constantly as they have a lot less staff in primary schools than they do in nurseries.
You need to get over the fear of your child being in contact with boisterous children, that's normal for toddlers.

LivBa Sun 14-Feb-21 13:39:33


He is 2. It is perfectly normal for him to be not ready to cope in a nursery setting.

There's no benefit to him to be in a nursery setting that young. Certainly there can be when he's older. Poor little boy, if his cheek was bright red when you picked him up, that must have been really hard slap and painful, and no one around to protect him while he's there, no wonder he's so frightened sad

There's absolutely no way I'd leave my child in such a nursery after that experience and the staff then lying to me about how he got that mark.

ravenmum Sun 14-Feb-21 13:59:17

I questioned the lady and asked what happened? Whilst consoling my distraught boy.
Your son might have decided from this experience that if you take him to a group of new children, you might leave him and go away - but if he cries and gets you to cuddle him, then he is taken home and doesn't have to go back.

Many children that age do cry at the door at first - if that is not something you can deal with, then don't take him in if it's not necessary. But normally, as long as the handover is as brief and breezy as you can make it - all smiles and "Aren't you going to have fun? See you later!" - then they will settle down pretty fast. They simply get used to it.

Lots of children are playing happily until their parent arrives to pick them up - then they suddenly start to cry again as they are reminded of how they cried when the parent left that morning.

A red cheek could be from anything, even teething, but sure, perhaps another child. If another child had slapped him and they saw it, why would they lie? That sort of thing does happen quite often.

MessAllOver Sun 14-Feb-21 14:06:41

I'm not saying that your DS is like this at all (and he is younger) but I get a tale of woe after nursery sometimes from my 3 yo about how Max pushed him and Frankie stole his biscuit and he was upset because his friend Luke got to go for a walk and he didn't. Very little of it bears any resemblance to reality... I watch him through the fence sometimes having a great time and the staff send me photos and videos during the day of him having fun. Often after nursery they're tired and emotional... it doesn't mean they've had a miserable time.

JC2021 Sun 14-Feb-21 16:31:28

Just to make it clear, my son was totally fine when I dropped him off - he looked OK with me going, he didn't cry or cling at all and played with toys - It was upon collecting him that he was very stressed and the most upset I've seen him..

I understand the point that kids scuffle, that's expected and that's fine. This particular nursery and member of staff should have told me, that's the point.

They were non caring and cold about the whole thing.

I cuddled him, asked a few questions they couldn't answer and took him home - all the reviews are sparkling?

I will likely keep him home until age 3 - going from this article below is usually best / yes it can be different for each family of course -

Also the red cheek definitely wasn't teething, I would have known the difference.

Why would they lie? Perhaps as it was his first day of settling and doesn't make them look good.

I got a bad vibe when they told me not to come in, I was literally allowed into the small reception bit then asked to go shortly after. He is my first and this is both our first experience of childcare, pretty shitty tbh.

OP’s posts: |
Bunnybigears Sun 14-Feb-21 16:36:50

Attempting to start your child at nursery when they don't need to go in the middle of a pandemic seems a strange decision. I would wait until you are allowed in before you try again or try a smaller setting such as a childminders.

JC2021 Sun 14-Feb-21 16:50:15

Strange but desperate for childcare, so not so strange based on personal circumstances.

Yes, as i've said i will likely be waiting until he is older now.

OP’s posts: |
bloodyhairy Sun 14-Feb-21 17:13:01

Eek. You can't protect him from these experiences forever! It's unfortunate that he was hit by another toddler, but these things do just happen. Please try not to project your overanxiety onto him.

MessAllOver Sun 14-Feb-21 18:13:21

I think their reaction is the biggest problem. When my son was settling in, I was told everyday whether he'd been happy/unhappy and, if unhappy, what the staff had done to try to cheer him up. They don't sound like they care.

IdesMarchof Sun 14-Feb-21 18:16:10

He’s too young by the sound of it

At three he will be ready

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