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Separation Issues in 4 Year old

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I feel like the worst mama in the world right about now.

My youngest started pre-k yesterday. I did not put his older sis and bro in pre-k years ago because we were still very active in LLL and had a playgroup, so they had a lot of interaction and socialization with other kids.

My son has never had this..he does not have any friends his own age, and because his brother and sister are much older, he is pretty advanced in some respects for his age..all save for his attachment to me.

Yesterday he cried for fifteen minutes after I left him at the school. They said he was fine after that, and all he talked about last night was how much fun he had.

This morning when I started to leave, he became "velcro boy" and attached himself to my leg. My other friends whose children attend the school, and both and aide and the teacher, who are also good friends of mine, had me hand him to the aide. He was hysterical, and I felt like crap. They all assured me that the best thing for him was for me to go..that in five minutes he would be fine. I had to take my other dd to school, so I had to leave at that point, but I walked out hearing him crying for me, and crying myself.

Part of me knows he needs some independence, and the benefits of prek and all he will gain from it outweigh the separation issue. But it feels wrong, and I feel like I did the 4 year old version of CIO with him..I answered every cry when they were babes..it felt wrong to not be there for him through this.

Has anyone else ever had to deal with this? Please let me know how you handled it if so. I feel so lost and sad for him.
post #2 of 11
I am moving this to the learning at school forum, where maybe you will get some answers.

Personally, though, if it feels wrong, I wouldn't do it. Trust your gut instincts, not what other people tell you is best for your kid. Nobody knows him better than his Mommy!
post #3 of 11
So did he settle down right away after you left again? You didn't comment so I wondered. Can you stay for 15 min (maybe come early) and ease him into the session? How about talking about it the night before/morning with some stories of similar situations and how he feels about it? I do this a lot with my kids (the library has it all!) and it really has seemed to help. Kids really can verbalize alot about they are feeling. And sometimes it's something so simple we can do-like making a routine of saying the same thing-"Look we're at your school where you're going to have fun. Mommy is going to take xx to school and be back later to hear about the funt hings you did!" Hug, kiss and do a special handshake or something like that. I did something like this with my son and he would call me on it if I forgot to say it right after awhile! LOL
Can you leave him with a pciture of you in his cubby to look at if he gets sad?
But the bottom line is intuition-if you know he's OK then continue, if you really think he's not-then maybe try again in the spring.
Good luck-parenting is the toughest job in the world-don't you wish it came with some more directions?!LOL,
Ann
post #4 of 11
I can't say for certain, but part of it might be his age?..

My DS went to nursery school last year, no separation problems at all. He was 2y 9m when he started last year and really, surprisingly had NO issues with me leaving hime there.

Today, he had orientation at nursery school (same school, same teachers). He was fine while we were there, but all afternoon he's been saying he doesn't want to go there without me, he wants to stay with me, he misses me when I'm at work, he needs me with him all the time, etc., very clingy to me, crying when I left his bedside to go to the bathroom.

Unfortunately, I don't have the option of pulling him out and staying home with him.
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
well, another bad morning. When I went to pick him up yesterday, the teacher said he was fine five minutes after I left..he seemed happy and it was hard to get him to leave,lol.

We talked last night about things to do to make him feel better. I sent a special stuffed animal with him, we made cookies for his class, he took a picture of me..and then when we got to the school he refused to get out of the car.

I went up to the school with him, and talked to the teacher for a few..and asked her if she thought I should wait until the Spring, and she said absolutely not...that the longer I wait the harder his transition will be. I said I thought the mornings were getting worse, and she said they would, because he knows the last two mornings didn't work, so until he adjusts to the change, he will try anything to avoid it..she said once I go, he is fine and has a lot of fun. I trust her, she is a great teacher and a good friend, and she would not feed me a line to make me feel better.

So I am going back this morning after snack time to read everyone a story. He was ok when I left because we decided I could come back and do that. I am sure he has spent the last hour looking out the window for me though.

I am going to see how this goes for the rest of the week, and decide whether to take him out until the Spring. He will have to go then because I start school myself..and then I won't have the luxury of staying there with him when he is crying..sigh..this is so tough.
post #6 of 11
It is very hard. I found it so hard that I had my husband take the kids to preschool. They would cling to me and often cry but if he took them, they ran off to play. When I would take them they would always be fine 5 minutes after I left but it was rough leaving. When I would pick them up from school, they never wanted to leave so I knew they were having a good time. It may take awhile, but I think your son will adjust.

My daughter just started 1st grade and I took her the first day. She happily said goodby so I think it is stage that many children go through at 4 and 5. Good luck! I would keep talking to him about what he likes about school and talk about how you will always be there to see him after school.
post #7 of 11
We are also going through this right now. My 4 y/o is in his fourth week of pre-k. Some days, he is great, doesn't shed a tear and other days, he cries so much that we have to go get him (like today). We sent a picture in with him and I know his class has done a project based on the book The Kissing Hand. He has a kissing hand in school that he can kiss whenever he misses us.

It's a hard adjustment for him, going from no school or set routine to full day five days a week! pre-k (all our district offers). We keep reassuring him that he isn't missing anything special when he is in school (one of his main concerns is that we are off playing and having lots of fun w/o him). I try to find out lots about their daily activities, and I do things like sing the good morning song that they sing in class when he wakes up. We walk to school with one of his classmates and he likes that too. I just talk about what a wonderful place school is and how much fun he is going to have that day doing things like going to the library or music. We also uses bribes, lol. If he has a great day w/ minimal crying, he gets a treat (stickers usually). If he has a good week, he can have a special treat (an outing, a new video, etc). Oh, one other thing we are doing is occassionally popping in to have lunch w/ him. He enjoys that.

I also feel that he is beginning to realize that if he cries enough, mommy and/or daddy will come get him. I don't want him to start using that as a tool when he is not being hurt, mistreated or otherwise going through anything than just missing us (which is a BIG deal, but still). A picture schedule is hung in the class so he knows he gets picked up after rest time, but some days, he just can't make it that long.

The main reason we wanted him to attend is to get used to the routine and to work on socialization. I knew it would only be harder if we waited another year. Homeschooling (or private school) is not really an option for our family right now. He really looked forward to going to school until he actually had to attend. DH and I are working with his teacher daily and we hope that this will help ease the transition. She is very understanding especially since she knows he is a young four (bday was in July). If things still don't seem to be going well in a few more weeks, we will discuss options like pulling him out, etc.

Sorry this got long, but I am right there with you! Good luck with your DS and to you!
post #8 of 11
Yes! Yes! Yes! My dd is 4 *today*! And she started a new preschool/daycare a mont ago (before she was in a MOthers Day out for 9 mths for about 8 hrs a week with some separation issues there).
I ahve to leave her b/c I have to be at class at 8 am ( I am an Early Childhood Major). Her school is on the campus of my college and is really great. Anyway, she still cries every morning or at least is unhappy when I leave. BUT she stops 2 minutes after I leave and has a great time. She goes monday-Thursdays 8am-2pm. She says she doesn't want to go b/c she doesn't like nap, but again, the teacher says she does great at naptime, goes right to sleep and wakes up ready to play ( I get there either while she is still asleep or shortly after she wakes up). Everything I have seen confirms this and the teacher is wonderful. My dd has nothing negative to say about her day and is always happy when I get there and very happy to see me too! The teacher says she is just very attached to- which is not a bad thing (teacher's words). I hate it, but I have realized the best thing is to just say good bye and leave. I always give her the option of either the teacher holding her or her getting down. If she gives me the death grip I gently tell her she needs to choose or I will have to pry her off of me and hand her to the teacher. I still hate it, but the consistency really does help.
Another thing- her mornings before school are also very consistent. I waker at 7am, sit her infront of PBS kids and she eats a waffle, then I help her get dressed and hair brushed, give her the warning that when Arthur is over we will leave, then at 7:30 am we leave. She listens to her favorite songs on a CD we have, and I carry her to her room. It messes her up if I am not consistent with our am routine. I am not a routine kinda person, but it really does work well. It is so hard to hear her cry for me, but I know that she really does stop crying and get down to play very quickly. Plus, I have no choice! And, the best thing of all is that I know it is a wonderful place. They are very child oriented and child-appropriate. No punishment is used, all explaining and redirection. The teacher believes strongly in keeping them busy with hands on stuff and the director of the center is my professore for 2 of my classes and I love her!
So, if you feel sure that the center is a good place for him to be and he is otherwise happy, etc., then I say the quick drop-off goodbye is probably the best.
P.S.- I lingered a lot at the MOthers Day Out she went to and a lt of it was that I felt bad about the place she was at- the teacher was nice and all but they just did very little as far as activites go and the kids were not very nice to each other.
post #9 of 11
Dd had some crying when she first started preschool a month ago. We also got the KISSING HAND book......and are still using the stickers every day.

except now she gives them to the little boy in her class that still cries......so sweet.
post #10 of 11
This is all so intereseting for me to read - dd (3 y.o.) is starting pre-school in a little less than 2 weeks and I have no idea if she's going to cry or not - and I don't know what I'll do if she does cry! I've never just left her crying anywhere, and don't know if I can do it now. I do plan on getting her there early so we can spend time together before I have to leave (parents aren't allowed to stay in the classroom after class has started). And her teacher has said she's going to come visit us at home a day or two before school starts so that dd can become more familier with her. Still, I'm a little nervous - have been giving dd and myself Walnut flower essence to help ease transitions. I'm really hoping it kicks in and helps by the time school starts!
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Nanner.. my little guy also dislikes nap time. Yet he still takes naps in the afternoon. I do not know why this is..maybe it is because it is on the teacher's schedule, where me..the schedule-less mama, just let him lay down and rest on his own terms.

He did better on Friday than any other day..mainly because they had a half day. He breaks his days down into their routines, and he said 'You'll be here early because we won't have nap time today." I walked out of the classroom and he had run in ahead of me, happily greeting everyone.

His teacher and aide say he is the life of the classroom the rest of the day. They say he plays great with everyone and is a lot of fun and excited about everything they do. So I think he will adjust. There is another little boy in his class that is still having a hard time, and I am buying a copy of the Kissing Hand for his mom and for my son too.

I will let you all know about tomorrow..hopefully after a weekend of freedom it won't be back to the starting board again,lol.
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