Originally Posted by JL83
With my son, we tried going slowly. We really did. He had to go to daycare when he was 3 and we tried to make it a gentle transition.
It really made it so much worse. He really like daycare, but he liked it so much better when I was there too. It was like his perfect world. Fun activities, lots of playmates and his mom! What else could he want...
After trying for 3 weeks to stay with him and then leave with him always having complete meltdowns, I finally changed tactics. When we were both calm I told him that we were going to have a new plan. I told him that I would come in with him, read him 1 book and then I was going to leave and he was going to eat snack. I drew it out on a small piece of paper that we could both reference at daycare. We talked about it alot over the weekend. Then, on Monday morning, I did it.
The first time it felt like it went against every single parenting ideal that we'd held. It felt so anti-AP that it was insane. But I did it. I had to work. I had to actually go to work or I was going to lose my job. They said that he threw an incredible angry tantrum when I left. He wasn't really sad, but really really mad. The director was on hand to help out and he ended up spending the morning as her office assistant.
But over that week it got both worse and better.
The next week was much much better.
We all learned alot. He learned that sometimes we really did mean what we said. He learned that sometime our needs (mine to earn money so that we could eat and have a place to live) did actually outweigh his needs. We learned that it didn't break/hurt/destroy him for us to follow through even though it made him very sad/angry with us.
It really made out relationship much healthier. We made sure to have alot of reattachment time over the first few weeks.
I think a large part of the reason going slow didn't work was b/c you were going into the class and interacting with him. When I did the transition with DS, I only went into the classroom and interacted with him in there during tours. Once he actually started school, I was out in the hallway. If he wanted to go into class and work with the other students, he had to leave me. All I did while there was sit and read or knit or chat with the other mommy who had an anxious child.
DS's separation issues from me were truly about anxiety, not about it is nice to have mom focusing on me and playing with me. DS really wanted to go to school and do the activities there, but he also was terrified of being in a room full of strangers. DS would go into the room and work, but as soon as a loud noise happened, or someone jostled him, he came running to me. Basically, I couldn't leave till he was sure he was safe, was comfortable enough to talk to his teachers, trusted his teachers, and so on.