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Refusal to attend preschool

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
I don't know where to put this, so I'm posting it a few different places. My almost 3 y/o daughter had been attending an "early 3's" preschool program for about 2 mos. We had a 2-week break for the holidays and now she doesn't want to go. She LOVED it before and I cannot understand this sudden refusal to go. She says she doesn't like it, but I can't elicit a more specific explanation. It is only 2 days per week for 2.5 hours. Last Tuesday (first day back) she cried when I left. On Thursday, DH was home so he took her and ended up staying the whole time. (This is discouraged by the staff, because soon all the kids will want Mom or Dad to stay...)

I don't want to force DD to do anything against her will. I just don't understand why the sudden change of heart. I feel confident in the teachers and the program. I like sending her because I feel she learns things there that I cannot teach her here at home. And, I guiltily admit, I enjoy the few hours it gives me to take care of my own needs. DD has always been very attached to me and has only recently (past 18 mos or so) been happy to stay with DH for brief periods. I try my best to respect her needs, but I do feel like I need to loosen the apron strings a small bit.

Any suggestions? I've tried talking to her about it but that hasn't really helped. She stubbornly insists she doesn't like it and doesn't want to go. When I ask why, she replies, "Because." I don't want to ask more specific questions (Is it X? Or Y?) because I notice when I do this (about other things) she just agrees with whatever I come up with.

All advise will be considered. Thanks in advance.
post #2 of 6
I don't think this situation is all that unusual. I'd give it a few sessions and speak positively about the school and the fun things that she does. On the other hand, don't let it become the focus of your conversations.

When I'm faced with the prospect of my children not wanting to go somewhere that they usually love, we do it in stages... we have lunch, then put on our shoes, then coats, and we have a little play in between. If they say they want to stay with me, I say that is fine, but they have to walk with me to school to tell the teachers that they won't be going to school. Once at school they usually decide to stay. If they don't want to, I begin to suspect they may be developing an illness.

The advice that the teachers at my son's nursery school give is this: stay as long as you like, but once you decide that you're going, leave quickly. They will help the child through any difficulties that arise after that. Popping back and forth is not really helping the situation.
post #3 of 6
I have noticed this response many times in preschoolers after an extended break. For them 2 weeks probably feels like it lasts about a year! My daughter, the passionate ballerina (age 4) announced that she "never" wanted to go back to dance class the other day after a 3 week break. Several girls were not there and parents said there were similar reasons. She also was not interested in returning to preschool, but told me she'd go "next year" when it was time to go back. So, I think it is a fairly normal response, and one that speaks to her just getting out of the routine of going. If it is a program you trust, and there is no reason for her to not want to go (that she can articulate) she might just need some loving guidance around "this is what you do on 'mondays' (or whatever day)", empathy about how it's hard to get back into routines, and maybe a transitional object (something you leave with her that is yours, like a handkerchief or bracelet) to get her through the first couple times.

Let us know what other ideas you get from other threads! And keep us posted!
post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 
Well, from what I've gathered, this is pretty typical 3 y/o behavior. As far as suggestions, they range from "listening to her" (not sending her to school unless she wants to go) to helping her to remember that she likes school by leaving her there, tears or not.

I took her this morning. She cried and tried to get me to stay. The teacher let me know she didn't approve of that and assured me that she would call if DD didn't calm down. So I returned home, waiting by the phone, feeling pretty upset. They did call about an hour later to say that DD had calmed down and was enjoying the day's activities with the other children.

So I think I did the right thing. I don't think my decision meant that I wasn't listening to DD, or that I wasn't taking her seriously. But I think she needed some help in realizing that she could get past her present feelings and discover that she did enjoy school and playing with her mates.

When she returned, I expected a bit of anger, but she didn't exhibit any. She said she had fun at school and that she liked school again. So I think it was just a brief phase and I'm glad we didn't pull her out of the program just because she said she no longer wanted to go...
post #5 of 6
Hi Paula,
Glad it worked out! Coming back to a school routine after vacation time is SO hard! Not just for 3 year olds! My six year old is over it now but last year in kindergarten, she had a hard time readjusting after each school break.
If you love it, think it is the right place for her, have positive feelings about leaving her there, and she cannot articulate any specific issues you have after various ways/times of asking her, then all is probably fine. I think you made the right decision.
I am only a very small fraction AP so I have different opinions than most on this board, but I don't think that a child (or an adult for that matter) can make every decision for themselves. It is wonderful to be respectful of their thoughts. You, as the parent, have more experience and understanding - where the child does not. There are times when a child may need medicine or a shot that they don't want. I don't blame them and would try to be as loving as possible in helping them deal with it but in the end, their wishes may not be followed. Same with school, work, etc. It is great to get their opinion and try to follow that when possible but it is not the deciding factor in most cases IMHO. I am sure others will disagree strongly. You can only go with what you feel is right for your family.
Glad she is happy back at school now!
post #6 of 6
Wow, it sounds like she really did accomplish something this morning! I think kids do need to be pushed a wee bit sometimes to know they can handle something that is hard. Otherwise it seems like we're telling them they can't handle it without us. It's a different story if a child is hysterical, etc. I know it is one of the hardest things to do, to ask our child to do something they feel awkward or uncomfortable doing. But what an achievement. Seems like you did a great job of trusting yourself too!
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