I’m a housewife. I’ve just recently put my 3 year old in preschool. I’ve rarely left her since she was born, except with very close friend and family, very occasionally. We’re in a playgroup and ballet which she loves, but I thought that maybe she’d enjoy being around kids her age more, so I put her in preschool. The first few days were fine, but now she screams and cries and pulls on my cloths when I leave her. It’s horrible. I feel like a horrible mother. Yet I’m getting a lot of people who tell me that I need to let her just get over it and that I’ll ruin her if I don’t let her grow up. I’ve co-slept with her since she was born and I nursed her until she was almost three. What should I do. Is preschool better for her or will this anxiety she’s feeling cause her to loose trust in me. She’s definitely been acting out a lot more and telling me that she doesn’t think that I love her anymore. It’s really breaking my heart.
What I hear from you is all too common- a mother’s instinct clashing with what others tell her. Your daughter has a strong, healthy attachment to you, one that you so carefully nurtured since her birth. There is a misconception in our society that young children need to be around other young children to become social and it can be so hard to ignore those “voices”. While it may be fine for some children, not every child is ready to separate from their mother at three years of age. You have a very precious relationship with your daughter that she is trying to hang on to and she’s telling you in every way she knows how that she’s not emotionally ready to spend every day in a regimented preschool environment. You mention that she is losing trust in you and that is so insightful because trust is critical in all human relationships and you want to protect that as much as you possible. The playgroup and ballet class that she is involved in is certainly enough to give her social exposure at this tender age. Soon she’ll be old enough and have the developmental and emotional skills to handle different situations and different types of personalities. If it doesn’t feel right, tune out what others tell you, follow her lead and your heart and you’ll make the right decision.