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20 mo hysterical at separation...how long to persevere?

19 replies

questions2008 · 25/02/2011 11:18

My 20mo boy has been looked after mostly by his grandmother during the day since I went back to work 5 months ago, whom he adores and loves of course. To give her a break and him a chance to socialise and try new activities, we thought we'd take him to nursery a couple of mornings a week. So we started settling in for 3 weeks, taking him about twice a week, staying with him for 10 mins or so and then leaving him for about 30 mins, building up to an hour. But still every time he goes there as soon as he sees the place he starts crying. He seems to get more hysterical every time as he knows whats about to happen.
And when his dad (who does the drop off) tries to leave he gets hysterical. I know that it can take some time to settle kids in, but I'm not sure we can stand to see him in such a state. Should we continue? Have we given it enough time? Should we give it a break and try in a couple of months time? We are still only leaving him for about an hour. From outside the door, his dad says he can hear him crying, then stopping and playing, and then crying and so on. When he goes in to pick him up, he runs to him bawling his eyes out. :(

I don't know what the best thing to do. Please share your experiences of separation at nursery !!

OP posts:
babbi · 25/02/2011 14:20

If you have an alternative then I would stop to be honest. It would be different if he ran in and mixed and played with the other children, then you would see that he is getting some benefit from being there. It seems that all he is getting is a huge amount of distress. He is still only little there will be plenty of time to meet other children later on.

serious1 · 25/02/2011 16:41

oh poor little chap, id stop if it really is upsetting for him, children do get used to it but some also do take a long while to settle. If there realy is no need to send him(eg grandma is happy to have him) then it may best to wait until he is about 2.5yrs and old enough to say if he likes it, perhaps granma can take him along to a couple of playgroups/toddler groups for socialisation aspect. bless the poor little chaps heart

Scarfmaker · 25/02/2011 23:44

If you've been taking him for 3 weeks and leaving him for only an hour I would say that would be the unsettling thing for him.

Of course he would run to Dad when collecting as an hour is such a short time!

Your son is probably just starting to settle into a new environment when his Dad walks in!

20 month olds know how to pull on the heartstrings.

If you can I would start leaving your son for maybe a whole morning or afternoon if you are that flexible with your husband doing the pickup.

If not I would go back to grandma if you can and try again in 6 months time.

I suppose it all depends on your work situation?

RitaMorgan · 25/02/2011 23:50

If you don't have to do it, I'd stop.

How about a childminder instead? Maybe your ds would feel more comfortable in a quieter, more homely environment.

poodlerockin · 26/02/2011 00:04

I agree with others. He doesn't need activities / to socialise at this age. Wait until he's 3. Or find a childminder if you really need to.

seeker · 26/02/2011 00:16

"20 month olds know how to pull on the heartstrings."

That is an awful thing to say! And so is "he's miserable if you leave him for an hour - so the best thing to do is leave him for a whole afternoon"

He's not 2 yet - an afternoon is an eternity!

SueWhite · 26/02/2011 00:19

I do think it's true that you aren't leaving him for long enough. From his point of view, he may feel as though you've lost him, and when he cries you come back to find him. If you took him more often for longer, he would realise that he can go off and play with things, knowing that you will be back later to collect him.

seeker · 26/02/2011 08:31

If he doesn't need to go, don't send him. It's neither compusory not essential.

Scarfmaker · 26/02/2011 23:12

seeker - if you think it was an awful thing to say, that wasn't my intention.

As for the rest of your sentence - you said that, not me.

The poster was asking for advice, and in my experience if she is looking to settle her son into a nursery, then an hour is not long enough - especially after doing this for three weeks. This is why he is so unsettled.

He is not far off 2 - if the poster was talking about a 6 month old then I would agree with you and say leave it a while - which I have said anyway in my post.

RitaMorgan · 26/02/2011 23:18

18 months-2 years is a really tough age to start nursery in my experience - they are old enough to feel separation anxiety but too young to have any concept of time or really understand that you'll come back. Most children don't get that much out of nursery socially until nearer 3 anyway.

sammich · 27/02/2011 09:07

Are the nursery staff worried about the crying? because i know its difficult but most children cry when they are left by there parent(s)

Like scarfmaker said if you are only leaving him for a hour he is not going to settle and if you can hear him crying then playing again he is most likely going to settle if you leave him for a bit longer he will get involved in activites and play with toys

Also the crying when you pick him up is normal for some children even after they have had a great day (which im sure your little one will get to after a while) i have a child at my setting who cried everytime they are picked up but they have not cried while they have been there, i had to sneak the parents in so they could see that the child was happy and playing and they did only cry when they saw them it was a phase and it passed

So what i am saying is if you want to keep with the nursery leave him for his whole session i know bad you feel when you leave and they are crying but they will stop and play with the toys and interact with the staff and form a bond with them in there own time (it is what happens at most good nurseries) chat with the nursery staff and say this is what your plan is going to be and ask for the advice of the room supervisor or his keyworker

ilovetolove · 27/02/2011 17:24

You poor thing :( this must be so upsetting for you all , i do agree with the majority that if he really doesnt need to be there then maybe leave him until he is a bit older - dont worry about him not being around other children just now- he will be having plenty of fun at his grans and with you and his dad.

what are the nursery doing to reassure you ? have they not suggested what you should try ?

questions2008 · 15/03/2011 11:03

thanks for all your advice. We've carried on the twice weekly in the hope he will get better, but no change in his behaviour really, to the extent up to last week he was crying so hard at the drop-off he vomited.

Today my mum tried doing the drop off to see what was happening and also stayed with him a bit longer to make him feel more secure, but as soon as he turned his head and saw her out of his sight, he again became hysterical and she said it's not the type of crying he does when he wants something, it's real distress. She also said that long before they arrived at the nursery and he recognised where they were going (from the street) he kept making 'no' noises in the car. So he's well aware of where he's going and what's happneing and he's just not happy about it. So we've decided the best thing to do is to pull him out for a few months, hope he'll forget about the experience and try again once he's a bit older.

OP posts:
notsweatingthesmallstuff · 15/03/2011 19:49

Questions: i have just found this and realise its an old post but as you posted your update am taking the chance to say well done on making your decision. I am stunned at those who seem to think its acceptable to leave a two year old screaming and upset. He may well stop crying eventually but that doesnt mean that he has settled, just that he has given in adn realised he is stuck there. Some children will settle and thrive, others only learn how to cope with the situation. I have seen children stop crying but they have in no way settled, instead they become withdrawn and sad. Who would want that for a child.
I have been a nursery worker and a childminder and agree that a childminder might be a much better option. And as a grandma who looks after an adored grandchild, I am sure that grandma might be happy with this arrangement too, knowing he is happy and having some time to herself.

ojmummy · 15/03/2011 23:18

My 14 month old cries & cries when I drop him at CM (he goes 2 days 8.15am-3.45pm whilst I work). Its horrible to leave him so upset, but CM assures me that he is fine within 5-10mins. He also gets v.upset when I put him into creche at gym one or two mornings per week for 1.5hrs, but again the creche staff say he calms down within 5 ish mins and then plays really nicely.

I have resigned myself to the fact that its normal for them to go through a phase like this. I trust the people caring for him & know he is well looked after.

pollywollyhadadollycalledmolly · 24/03/2011 12:24

How long does he cry for after your OH has left?

Some children can take any where up to 6 months ++ to settle. I really dont find this too unusual a thing to happen.

My DD was 5 months when she started nursery and she cried every day and was still crying every day when i took her out of nursery at 22 months. (i am a cm now)

Nightsdrawingin · 25/03/2011 10:56

I would agree with all the people who have said he doesn't need to socialise or do new activities at this age, except with a trusted adult there. Having a stable attachment figure is the important thing at this age, not socialising. A child of this age is cognitively incapable of behaving in a certain way to 'pull at the heartstrings' - they don't have enough understanding of other people's thoughts and feelings to do this. I think the nursery industry has done a good job of convincing people children need this environment from an early age when actually the research shows that very young children are often chronically stressed in nursery environments - try reading Steve Biddulph's 'Raising Babies' if you want to know more. A child can be chronically stressed whether they scream all the time or are quiet. It's an inconvenient truth and I wish it wasn't the case, for us it has meant spending double what we'd spend on a nursery on a nanny.

pollywollyhadadollycalledmolly · 25/03/2011 11:17

So what happens then when he starts pre school and cries every day? Should she not send him then?

What about when he goes to school and cries then? Should she not send him then?

Scarfmaker · 25/03/2011 19:12

It's not the nursery industry convincing people children need to be there - it's the government trying to get mothers with young children back to work and the pressure of paying the mortgage, cost of living etc.

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