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3 year old crying when left at preschool--why isn't this CIO?

post #1 of 113
Thread Starter 
My son starts preschool next week, he just turned 3. The school I chose is very small--it's in home, one teacher and 6 kids. She's very gentle, etc. I think it's the best possible situation for putting him in school. He'll go twice a week for 4 hours.

My dilemma is this--he's never been left to cry, and I'm having trouble reconciling in my mind the idea of leaving him there if he's crying. Won't he interpret this as abondonment? Originally I thought I would just wait if he seemed upset, until a friend of mine that teaches 1st grade said that there are many kindergartners who cry on the first day of school. So waiting won't necessarily mean that he won't cry!

I'm just wondering how the rest of you view this--of course, he'll have the teacher there to comfort him, but if he wants me to stay and I leave anyway...this just seems wrong to me!

Thanks for your advice/comments...
Carrie & Boden (8-19-03)
post #2 of 113
If there is someone there to comfort him, then he's not being left to cry it out. To me, crying it out means you're left on your own with no one to comfort you and you have to get through whatever it is all alone. He won't be all alone as he'll have a loving and gentle teacher (and probably the other kids!) to comfort him.
post #3 of 113
First of all, maybe he won't cry! That said, my son cried for several days when he started preschool. Can you ease him into it if he does cry? My son's school had me bring him for only two hours the first couple of days and then we increased the time over three weeks until he was attending the whole 4.5 hours. After we got over that three weeks, he absolutely LOVED school.

I am now starting to go through this again with my 2yo daughter. Even though the playschool they are now attending is run by one of my best friends, she still cried her eyes out this morning and I had to go and pick her up. So I'll be starting her an hour at a time on Thursday.
post #4 of 113
Thread Starter 
True, there will be a teacher there to comfort him--but I can't help feeling like this will be the first time in his life when I basically ignore his needs. I'm afraid this will be some kind of breach of trust.

I know this is no big deal to lots of people, but I'm really having a hard time...!! I just can't imagine saying "I know you're completely freaked and don't want me to leave, but I"m going to do it anyway."

I just hope that if he is upset, it's shortlived. I can handle a day or two but beyond that, and I may have trouble!

Thanks,
Carrie
post #5 of 113
My mother is a home preschool teacher (6 kids a class 2.5 hours each) so very similiar to what your son will enter. I will honestly say over the almost 30 years of seeing new first time ever away from the parents yes their are some tears and with extremely few exceptions (ussually kids with other more medical issues) all are very short lived, many have a harder time leaving (lots of toys). I'd really encourage you to let the teacher do her job and help comfort him if needed. Was he allowed to go see the preschool before, if not that will be good it wont be so new and scarry, can he bring something "special" from home that can help.
post #6 of 113
I think that the difference is he is not a infant who can't express his feelings in words. If he can get you to stay he will. I think you should be lovingly firm and confident in the new caregivers to meet his needs. He will take your cue.
post #7 of 113
I would not assume that he will cry. Many kids don't cry the first time, or any time, that they go to preschool. My son did not cry at all. He was more than ready and loved it from the start.

I would just make sure that you are not communicating to him, either verbally or nonverbally, that you are expecting him to cry and be upset. You don't want to create a self-fulfilling prophecy, you know?

And, I wouldn't look at sending him to preschool as a breach of trust. I would look at it as a chance for him to learn some interesting things, play with other kids and have fun! I think a general positive attitude about it will go a long way to helping the transition be good for him.
post #8 of 113
If your instincts say don't leave, follow them! Is there really anything wrong with the teacher having an extra pair of hands for a month or six month or a year so your son will not lose the trust you've created?
post #9 of 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by momma2mingbu
If there is someone there to comfort him, then he's not being left to cry it out. To me, crying it out means you're left on your own with no one to comfort you and you have to get through whatever it is all alone. He won't be all alone as he'll have a loving and gentle teacher (and probably the other kids!) to comfort him.
I agree.

IMO it's considered CIO when a child is left in a dark room totally alone and no one at all goes in to comfort him when he cries out or screams excessively. Your child will have someone to comfort him and he won't just be left somewhere totally alone when you leave him. When you leave him you are allowing him to learn to trust other people other than yourself. He won't be the first child to cry a little when mom/dad leaves him at school. It's harder on us as the parents than it is the child usually.
post #10 of 113
my son cried until Thanksgiving when he started preschool.
It was absolutely awful. I sat in the hallway day after day, but they would not let me in the room with him and discouraged me from taking him out or bringing him home. They didn't even want me in the hallway.

I feel like he cried it out. I wish I had followed my instincts to pull him out of there. He wasn't ready.

Make sure you do what you feel is right for your child. If the crying is disturbing, the separation anxiety might be too great.
post #11 of 113
To me, leaving a child to cry at preschool is the same as leaving him with a babysitter he doesn't know. When my dd was a baby, everyone told me that I had to do that, and eventually she would get over it. That never felt right to me--even though i knew she was with people that cared about her and loved her, she wasnt' okay with it--so I wasn't. It was more work, but I only left her when I knew she was happy with the person I left her with.

If it's at all possible, I would gently ease into the situation by staying for a while, for a few days or weeks if that's what he needs.
post #12 of 113
I think it depends on how long he cries and what the teacher does. Does he cry for a few minutes and then is OK? That's not CIO, that's a healthy expression of sadness at separation, with someone to comfort him.

Does he cry for an extended period of time and can't be comforted? Then he's not ready.

For most kids, the IDEA of separating is difficult, but once they're through the transition, they're OK. I don't think that a rough transition will destroy trust. I do think leaving him to cry for an extended period of time might.
post #13 of 113
I was worried about this too.....that for the first time, I was abandoning my child when I really didn't need to since I am a SAHM.

But I knew that she needed the extra stimulation and so I prepared myself for tears.

You know what? She didn't cry. In fact, she went right off and started playing with something. I introduced her to the teacher, told her I loved her, she blew me a kiss....and that was it. My little one was doing her first flight alone and I had been the one that helped her have those wings!!! I felt glorious that she was so strong.

Hopefully, you will find the same thing....you have prepared him for this step....trust that he will do what is right for him. That might be that he isn't ready.....but have hope. :-)

Btw, just to be totally honest, Fiona did cry for a couple minutes the second week that I left her, but was done by the time I got to the car. And, they do let her take her Pooh bear with her in the classroom.

It might be better then you think. :-)
post #14 of 113
i dont consider it CIO.
but having read these threads, i wish i had some of your kids.
my ds1 never cried when i left him. he was very independent.
my ds2, OTOH, cried every day at preschool...every. day. that was hard. i had to go to work though. i stayed for along time with him, but if i left he cried. i called 10 minutes later and he was playing with the other kids. even if i stayed for 2 hours, he cried when i left. if i stayed for 15 minutes, he cried when i left.
i think you have to have really good communication with your child care provider and make sure you guys are on the same wave length.

good luck. and true what pp said..dont expect the worse. but i would spend some time "transitioning" him into the new place.
post #15 of 113
I would not be comfortable leaving a crying child with somebody he or she just met. If you were very upset, would the presence of a stranger be comforting? If your child does get upset (and, as others pointed out, he may not!), I second the idea of staying with him for a while if that's a possibility. As he gets to know the teacher, it seems as though it would be easier for him to trust her to provide some comfort if it is needed.
post #16 of 113
I don't consider that CIO. Not at all. It's okay that our kids are sad when we go...they love us! Its okay if they aren't sad. I really believe that children should be allowed to have their feelings. You are not abandoning your child by giving him or her the experience of education. Its not like you are leaving your child on the doorstep of some random place with people you don't trust!

I think it is hard for all of us to leave our kids the first time or that first day of preschool. Obviously if there is a more significant transition problem going on it needs to be dealt with. But you are not being unloving by taking your child somewhere new that you have researched and trust!

I also really believe that if mama is feeling guilty or unsure about the drop off that the kids pick up on that. That is very true for my me and my daughter.

Anyway, best of luck for a tear free first day!
post #17 of 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by saritabeth
I also really believe that if mama is feeling guilty or unsure about the drop off that the kids pick up on that. That is very true for my me and my daughter.
ITA :

I know that if I have a positive attitude and I didn't give in to my child's crying then it made it better. However, with my oldest child some 8+ years ago he was very hard to leave anywhere, not just preschool. It was just him. That's how he was. He had huge separation issues. But it helped him that I would make him stay, even if I stood out in the hallway and listened to him stop crying after about 2 minutes (he never cried long once I was out of sight). It was easier to leave my son places by the time he was 5/6 years old because he learned earlier on that mommy will be back. It's just a part of life sometimes to have to go somewhere and stay. If I trusted the teachers then I knew he would be okay and he just had to eventually learn that himself.

I never would have left him in a place that I "personally" or as a mom felt bad about inside my gut, so that wasn't even the issue and I never would have yanked him out solely because he had an adjustment period to get through. He just had separation issues, plain and simple and he would have had them at 2, 3 or even 6 years old had we not dealt with it at some point.
post #18 of 113
I'm really surprised that most of you think it's ok to leave a 3 year old in a situation where they are obviously distressed. I think a 3 year old is still so little. I wouldn't expect a child that young to tough it out in a new and strange situation without mom or dad there, unless he or she were totally ready (and some would be, I know). But several days, weeks or even months of crying would signal to me that the child was not ready. I realize some mamas have no choice, but if you do, how do rationalize that?
post #19 of 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dolphin
I'm really surprised that most of you think it's ok to leave a 3 year old in a situation where they are obviously distressed. I think a 3 year old is still so little. I wouldn't expect a child that young to tough it out in a new and strange situation without mom or dad there, unless he or she were totally ready (and some would be, I know). But several days, weeks or even months of crying would signal to me that the child was not ready. I realize some mamas have no choice, but if you do, how do rationalize that?
She has not left her child yet. She is worried he may cry. I don't think anyone is saying that weeks or months of crying are normal. It is normal for a child to be sad at first, but 'mama always comes back' is an important thing to learn. Mama only leaves you with good safe adults who will meet your needs is also equally important. I am assuming here that she feels confident in the care her son will receive.

No one is saying tough it out either....This is a teaching moment. Besides, if he really isn't ready she can always change her mind. I think it is poor adivce to equate a child being sad you leave preschool the first week with CIO. If the child cries for more than a few minutes and doesn't bounce back once mama does leave, then yeah, maybe the mama would need to rethink the fit or timing. It isn't a reason not to try at all.
post #20 of 113
I think it is completely wrong to leave a 3 yo if they are obviously distressed. I believe that crying is their way of letting you know that they aren't comfortable w/the situation. I do believe it is CIO. A three yo is still learning about their place in the world. They are still discovering that they are seperate from mom and dad and can be okay with out them. In fact, it makes me really upset to see children crying hysterically when they are left at school. Preschool is designed so that kids can get used to the idea of going to school and so they can see school as a fun and safe place. How can it be a fun/safe place when they are being left so upset everyday?

When my oldest was 2.5, she wanted to start school. So we started her in two days, which she loved, and then she wanted to go more, so we moved her to three days. In the middle of the year we moved to a different state. When we got to the new house, we told her that she could let us know when she was ready to start school. Within a week of move in, she was asking to go to school. But when the time came for her to actually be left there, she was hysterical. We tried for three days, but I ended up believing it wasn't time for her. Last year, we registered her again and she was TOTALLY ready. She did want us to come in and drop her off at her classroom and hang out for a bit; which we always did. And then in the middle of the year she decided she wanted to be dropped off in car line. I took her direction as to her comfort level and I think it worked out beautifully. She is really independent and very comfortable in new situations.

IMO, preschool is just preschool. If your child isn't ready, they'll let you know. I believe (like all other AP choices) parents should be sensitive to their child and not abandon them while they are hysterical at school.

ETA: I don't think that the OP should not try because there is the possibility of the child crying. I just think that she should go with her gut and not allow teachers (who often mean well, but encourage the parents to just leave a crying child) to run her over.
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