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How to get your child to break away without breaking his/her heart?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hi all!  I have been a stay at home mom on and off since my children were born.  My daughter is finishing up Kindergarten soon and my son will be going to pre-school next year.  My daughter had THE HARDEST time breaking away from me when she went to pre-school because I had been home with her every single day since she was born then I went back to work when she started pre-school.  Of course then my son came along so now I'm back home :) 

 

That whole "your child will get over it in a few weeks" thing did NOT work for my daughter.  She cried every day I dropped her off at pre-school and this went on for 2 years.  She FINALLY started to like school this year when she went on to Kindergarten.  However, those two years of her crying EVERY DAY and begging me not to leave her at school just about broke me, I don't know if I can do it again with my son.

 

He is even worse with me!  I can't leave the house without him.  If my husband and I go out to dinner my sitter will call me at least 3 times with him sobbing for me to come home.  I have finally learned that it is o.k. for him to be sad for a few minutes because eventually he gets over it.  Although he always goes right back into his sadness and calls me again.  I don't know how I' am going to be able to drop him off at pre-school next fall.  I have been trying to get out on little trips (an hour so) just to the grocery store without him and he just has a melt down almost every time.  

 

I have spoken to the director of the pre-school about him and she said that they believe in just dropping the children off at the door and having the parents leave because the children need to learn that "disconnect" and of course "they will be fine in a few weeks". 

 

So does anyone have any tips on how to get him more prepared to go to school in the fall and break away just a little bit so he's not crying all day, every day without me?  Any help is greatly appreciated!  Thank you!

post #2 of 12

I just kind of feel like this has to do with the way you parent on a regular basis and how YOU feel about your absences and how they are reflecting some of that.  Are you overly protective or dependent on the child's being dependent on you or do you have guilt that you have been at work sometimes and they sense that guilt?

 

Also, allowing your kids to feel safe exploring their environment without constant supervision, extensive socializion through playdates, giving them alone time to build their confidence, and most importantly, showing that you yourself are confident/comfortable in the presence of strange people/places and do not think leaving them is a "bad" thing, is key.  So, finding activities for your son that are related to the above is what needs to happen. But it most likely has to start with how you feel about it.  And if your son learned this behavior from his older sibling, that could be a whole other issue.

 

And forgive me if my answer is too strong; I'm no "expert" at this stuff, just trying to give honesty in a case where it seems important.  It sounds tough and I wish you well.  

post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

@ Demeter888, while I appreciate your feedback, I don't feel at all this is how I parent.  I feel this is a common problem that many parents who stay at home face.  I want my children to feel independent and safe and this is just the next step in their growing up.  I think every parent feels that "guilt" when they go to work because we didn't have children for someone else to raise, we had them to raise them ourselves, and to teach them to grow up and be independent, strong, good and overall happy people.  I'm not saying your reply was bad but a little on the harsh side.  I thought this forum was an open "floor" to ask questions and get feedback on what other mom's and dad's have experienced and perhaps get some ideas on how to best proceed.  I wasn't expecting to get a backlash on how I parent from someone who doesn't know me.  I'm open for honesty in all it's levels for those who know all it's parts, so if you do not know me personally, please do not assume you know how I parent.  I was simply asking other parents experiences.  Thank you.

post #4 of 12

I agree that not every child who has a hard time breaking away does it because of lack of confidence in the parent.  I agree it can make it worse sometimes, but kids come along and they blindside us with their neediness, whether we are being confident or not.  Advice so critical of the parent, I'm guessing, is coming from a parent who has never had such a child-- or they knew a child who was needy around mom but not around the nanny.  (Likely the child was just saving his true feelings for his mom--I even remember being that child and what it felt like to go from one state into another-- both genuine though seemingly contrary.)

 

I think regularity, ritual, giving kids a chance to say goodbye and wave their parents off are all helpful.  But this just doesn't fly with some kids, while others tell their parents to "go away" on their first day.  That does not make one parent more confident than another, it's just the way kids are.

 

I don't have any advice for you how to ease the break other than the ritual, regularity, etc.  It is good to show your confident face and voice when dropping them off-- it does help, but doesn't always avert the meltdowns.  You might not be able to avoid the tears entirely, but I'm sure there are things you can do to make it easier.

 

(My sister remembers distinctly feeling that my mother was being mean to her one time when she had a smile on her face while my sister was panicking.  She felt absolutely betrayed--she was 5.  This from a woman who carries very few memories of childhood before 6.5yo.)

post #5 of 12
If possible, get to know the teacher ahead of time, with your son. If he feels comfortable with him/her, that will help. I think. I ended up homeschooling, so I never faced this issue. Therefore, I don't have a lot of practical advice. Just commiseration. Sorry I'm not more help. Mainly I just want to chime in with agreement that parenting style is not the problem. Good luck finding ways to address this.
post #6 of 12
My thoughts...

It sounds like this preschool is not a good fit with your parenting style. There are LOTS of preschools that will allow you to help you child transition by letting you volunteer in the classroom for a while or just sitting on the sidelines for a half hour/hour every morning. Maybe try to find one of those.

Just being able to come to the preschool for special fun time with you before he starts school can really help. Some schools will have open houses or other activities that will allow you to do this. The point is to make sure he understands that it's a fun safe place before he has to experience it without you.

I'd say lots of preparation, too. Books about school, talks about what school will be like, drive by the school a bunch, etc.
post #7 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by answersplease View Post

@ Demeter888, while I appreciate your feedback, I don't feel at all this is how I parent.  I feel this is a common problem that many parents who stay at home face.  I want my children to feel independent and safe and this is just the next step in their growing up.  I think every parent feels that "guilt" when they go to work because we didn't have children for someone else to raise, we had them to raise them ourselves, and to teach them to grow up and be independent, strong, good and overall happy people.  I'm not saying your reply was bad but a little on the harsh side.  I thought this forum was an open "floor" to ask questions and get feedback on what other mom's and dad's have experienced and perhaps get some ideas on how to best proceed.  I wasn't expecting to get a backlash on how I parent from someone who doesn't know me.  I'm open for honesty in all it's levels for those who know all it's parts, so if you do not know me personally, please do not assume you know how I parent.  I was simply asking other parents experiences.  Thank you.

 

I have NO idea how you parent and my post was a bit of a loose cannon.  Sorry Mama, I can see why it seemed  little harsh.  Take whatever might be useful and ignore the rest of me tooting my horn:-)

post #8 of 12

I don't think it is normal at all for a preschooler to melt down every day for 2 years.  Do you have a consistent sitter for when you go to the grocery store?  I guess if it were me I would probably quit sending them if it were that hard on my child.  My kids are home with me all day and we homeschool- but they don't act like that when I leave. I guess I would look at the root cause of their anxiety- which I have no clue on where to start.  Diet?  Sleep patterns?  Stress at home?   

post #9 of 12
We didn't do preschool with either of our kids. But we aren't homeschooling at this time either although we considered it.

My first was very attached to me, but also to her dad and other important adults in her life. I did to back to work for a couple years when she was one but she was either with a grandma, an aunt or her dad with whom she was very attached to all of them.

She was shy going to school at first but she was confidant enough to go in and love it and never look back.

I thought life was great!

My second however is more of a challenge. She too is very attached to both me and her dad (we really push attachment for both parents in our family) and her grandpa. She was a real challenge and still is. However with her I don't believe preschool would have helped although some people see it differently. She'd go to our families daycare center once in a while and I'd often have to pick her up early because she was melting down. I didn't go back to work after I had her but I did do odd jobs. At one point I had a daycare running out of my basement and while she had always had E.P.I.C. tantrums, this was the height of tantrumville. I'm talking 2+ hours of her stripping off all of her cloths, throwing herself on the floor and trying to hurt herself to the point that I would have to restrain (lovingly and loosly and usually while singing... Since birth song has been her comfort item) her until she either calmed down or fell asleep. We looked into various medical reasons for it but it was just where she was at that point. Fast forward a couple years and she is over those, you can even disipline her now without too many tears. As long as I explain why I'm saying no or explain why she's made a wrong choice then she's ok. We tried going to drop in groups regularly and she wouldn't leave my side. It wasn't until a few months ago that we signed her up for a class in an activity that she enjoys that she really started interacting with others away from me. And even that was a big struggle. Today was the first day she did everything in her class and was excited about it!

She goes to Kindergarten in the fall and we just did the orientation and again, she was shy but doing more than I thought she would and exploring past her previously self set boundaries.

I can actually see Kindergarten working out now, whereas 6 months ago I was really worried about it.

Personally if preschool was going to cause that much angst and I could, I would skip it. Both my kids in their own way needed those extra two years being with me and while others pushed me or chastised me for not putting them in preschool, I've found that they have found their own path to confidence and individuality by havin that one on one time with me.

So I'd either find a preschool that will allow you to be there as much as needed (and I do agree sometimes kids going without the parent can be better, I've seen it in my work many times but it really depends on the child) and work on building that independence to be ok without you there for various lengths of time or look at delaying or skipping preschool altogether and letting the strong attachment just be and finding other things for you guys to do together before moving to Kindy.
post #10 of 12
I dont see how demeter's post was as offensive as you made it out to be. I understand not wanting your parenting style picked at, but in the case of having two children who have the same extreme clinginess behavior, it is definitely worth it to look at how you might be unintentionally influencing this behavior. No one here is calling you a bad parent or anything like that, we all have our own emotional tendencies that influence our child's life. For example, i was unintentionally influencing my daughter to cling to me by my own feelings of neediness. My partner would point it out to me, like babying her when she doesnt need it (picking her up when she could just as easily walk, over-soothing her when she would cry, no matter the reason, that sort of thing). These things seemed normal to me, but my partner helped me see how i was hindering her from developing a healthy sense of autonomy. Mind you, i havent completely cut out my soothing and all that, she's only 2 after all, but i can recognize now when she really NEEDS it versus when she is looking to be coddled. Its an important distinction. I dont know if it applies to you but i thought i'd mention it in case it helps at all. Reading your post reminded me of what i've gone through with my daughter. Since i've become serious about cutting out the unnecessary coddling, her tantrums have decreased, she is more independent and doesnt cry or whine as much. It can sometimes seem counterintuitive because as moms we naturally want to soothe our children whenever they ask for it, but its good to learn the difference between when its really needed and when they need encouragement to deal with things on their own. Also, it might help to look at your own feelings of neediness and how this could be affecting your children. Again, i truly dont mean any offense, i am simply pointing out what came to my mind when i read your post. My thoughts are similar to demeter's, so i wanted to both stick up for what she said and also give my own perspective. Sometimes parents have their own feelings of neediness that they are unkowingly looking to their kids to fill, and i'm definitely not saying this with judgment, only compassion. I have experienced that myself and still do to some degree, its something i learned from my mother and didnt realize i was doing until i started paying attention. If you'd like to, notice if there are times when you look to your kids to help you feel good emotionally. Theres no need to judge yourself, just notice if that happens. If it does then see if there are other possibilities for helping you feel good that dont involve your kids. It might feel strange at first and you might be feeling offended right now just reading this, but it really is a very useful exercise for any parent and especially those who have kids that experience intense separation anxiety. When we depend on our kids too much when it comes to feeling good or fulfilled, they feed off of this, which means they inadvertently learn to make sure their mom or dad is happy. They basically feel like they're responsible for their mom's or dad's happiness, which i know is not what the parents intend, its simply what they learned emotionally when they were growing up. How do i know this? Well, i have personal experience that i've had to work through and i've also observed in others. You can take or leave my advice, and i hope it helps some.
post #11 of 12
Im the oldest of three, and only girl and i grew up listening to my mom recount the year that I cried going to school. first in kindergarten and in 1st grade i was ok then my brother started kindergarten and i went back crying again ( me on 2nd grade), then we both were fine the year afterthat ( me on 3rd) and then when my baby bro started kindergarten ( me on 4th) is when i didnt cried but help my mom with my brother crying. So now i have a 3.5yr old and my mom reminds me of this now and then and always advice me to be patient because even though i cried a lot and my brother too, my baby brother never cried because he was exposed to what was happening to us and he was always eager to go to school. (i dont remember any of this) and so, all kids are different, i will continue talking to my daughter about my experiences in school and hope that phase passes fast on her too. wink1.gif
post #12 of 12

Do you want and need to work? Do you want to go out alone and/or on dates with your hubby? Do you want them to go to pre-school and public school?

 

I'm probably not a good person to give you advice about this since I am VERY attached to my kids and have never been apart from them (except for short trips to the dentist, etc).

Your post makes me really sad.  I think we all make our own choices about separation from our kids.  Some parents really want it or need it.  Others just seem to do it because that is what society deems as normal.  Others feel it's good for them to go through it.  Helps them mature.  

 

My advice is you know your kids better then anyone and you should do what you feel is best in your heart.  For me I would never put my kids through the trauma of being left somewhere if they didn't want to be.  And I'm not meaning it negatively towards you either.  We all work really hard to bond with our babies and children, who's to say when we need to break that bond? Or that it is the right thing to do? I tend to look at everything through their eyes and through their feelings.  If I were them would I want to be left there to cry? Would it be important and better for me as a 3 or 4 year old to be in pre-school rather then home with mommy? 

 

I was lucky enough to be able to stay home with my kids. Well, more like we made MAJOR sacrifices SO I could stay home.  That was our choice and I'm glad we made it.  When my oldest daughter turned 5. I knew there was no way in hell I would send her to school around here. Again I am so glad I made that choice.  The horror stories I have heard from school keep me up at night.  Homeschooling is hard but my kids are happy they don't go to school.  I let them make choices about what things they want to do.  I see that as they grow and mature they naturally are ready to "move away" from mommy.  My youngest use to cry when ever I left. Now at 3.5 he doesn't have a problem when I walk out the door.  It wasn't getting him use to the idea or letting him go through the trauma of crying for me when I left, it's simply HE IS MENTALLY READY FOR IT NOW.  My middle daughter was never that dependent upon me she never cried when I left her with daddy.  My oldest who will be 9 soon is still needy (as everyone likes to say). When I take her to classes I ask if she is comfortable if I leave. She always says no (my 5 yo will say yes).  So I stay.  I know that she will eventually be ready to be without mommy and I'm fine with waiting for her to get to that point.  

 

My parenting style draws a lot of criticism. Fine. They are my kids and I will raise them how I see fit.  So do what's best for you and your kiddos. If you think he is going to cry all day- every day maybe wait on pre-school? Teach him at home if you can.  If you feel it's the best thing for him to go or need him to go bc you have to work maybe trying different schools until you find one he likes? I will say as a homeschooler if my kids are upset they aren't going to be learning anything anyway.  I think if you can stay with him for several days or weeks until he is comfortable with the people and environment that would be a huge help.  The policy of drop at the door and leave is very harsh! Think how hard it is for an adult going to a new job and being around new people.  For a small child it's traumatic.  What ever you do I wish you the best of luck and as little tears for you and him alike. 

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