Preschool: "All the Children Cry when Mom's Leave. It's normal and it's fine." Thoughts? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 15 Old 06-15-2011, 12:16 PM - Thread Starter
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DD is 23 mo and we just checked out a lovely montessori preschool that she really liked (3AMs/wk). I asked if she would like to go to the school and she said yes. I said Mamas dont go to the school- is that ok with you an she said yes. Surprising as she hasn't been left with anyone but DH but she played with the kids and already has a buddy there.


But the owner said that its perfectly normal for kids to cry when they are being left and this just doesnt feel right to me. DD and I have a very strong attachment and I have worked hard at that since she was born. I desperately need a break and have little support at home so I thought this would help, but suddenly leaving her if she is not ok with it seems ridiculous, particularly since I am doing school for DD and my benefit not because I need to work now.  I do not want her IiiiIIIThere is a

I statred another thread about leaving DD awhile back but just wanted to check in with you other APish Mamas-

Do you feel its normal for kids to cry when you leave?

Are you ok with this?   

If DD says she's ok with it, should we just proceed?


There is also a $500 nonrefundable deposit that is at issue.  I'm fine paying it as long as DD is happy and ok but if she's not and I cant get it back, this would be very sad.


Would love to hear your thoughts, experiences- thanks!!!!!!


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#2 of 15 Old 06-15-2011, 12:27 PM
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Some kids do cry, especially at that age, b/c it's hard for them to understand that you'll be back. 


Many (most) kids who do cry at drop-off are fine within a matter of seconds or minutes, and they become engaged in activity and forget all about that separation anxiety they just experienced.


My kids are also in Montessori (also in NM), though my youngest is a bit older as he is 4.  He didn't cry, ever, at drop-off, and I know if he did it would be hard on me and break my heart.  How I would deal with it, would depend on my gut, I guess.  if I knew it was just temporary and a stage he was going through, then I might be okay with leaving him (and calling the teacher to follow-up very quickly to see that he did, in fact, stop crying).  If I felt like being away from me or that particular environment wasn't a good fit, I'd think about pulling him out.  If I had to work/school/etc., obviously I'd have to try elsewhere or find someone to watch him at home. 


Having worked in Montessori programs as an infant and then toddler teacher, I do know some kids have a harder time than others with separation.  I wouldn't have told parents all children cry, but I did tell them that it's within the realm of norm, b/c some kids do cry - and then are okay within a short period of time and eventually stop crying at drop-off.  I can think of one little girl in the 3 years I worked there, that would continue to cry for hours, and it was truly awful.  We had an infant/toddler mental health specialist who worked with us and her family and eventually she was taken out.  It turned out there were domestic violence issues, and likely something health related with the girl, too, so obviously this isn't the norm. 


I'd just see how it goes, and take it from there. Do some trial runs - maybe transition her slowly?  Leave her in the room and walk around the school for 15 minutes and then take her home.  Then try again for 30 minutes, and so on.  If she does cry, you can re-asses how you want to go about it. 

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#3 of 15 Old 06-15-2011, 01:12 PM
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I baby-sat my nephew when he was around that age to help my brother and his wife out since they couldn't afford daycare. Every time he got dropped off, he would cry and he would watch out the window as his parents left but the second their car turned the corner and he couldn't see it anymore, he would be fine. I never had any issues with him during the day after that, it was just that short amount of time right after his parents left but once they were gone it was like out of sight, out of mind.

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#4 of 15 Old 06-15-2011, 01:20 PM
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My current 2y would be fine at preschool, he can get left with a brand new sitter, I leave before he is even wake at times, and he never bats an eye. I just did it again on Monday, the new sitter was amazed he was fine.. As long as he has toys and someone that will feed him, he doesn't care who has him or where he is at. My 4.5y? Ha! We tried preschool with her last fall, she said she was fine, we talked about it for 6 months before she started. She was so excited, it was even at the same school DD1 goes to. It was a disaster when it actually started though. We tried everything, working up to it, me staying for a while, quick drop offs, bribes... She cried, I cried. I left her bawling her eyes out screaming for me a few times, it completely broke my heart and decided I couldn't do that again. We literally spent almost 3 months trying before throwing in the towel. Her behavior at home was changing, she started clinging to me constantly, I couldn't even pee without her needing to be right there with me. Obviously it was not going well. I pulled her out, lost a lot of money over it so I understand that part, and honestly that is the only reason I did try for so long, because i was going to be out so much. Sigh.


4 months later she decided she wanted to go again, and she did! She was just fine, went back to the school, loved it, never had a problem for the last couple months of the year. She just needed more time and wasn't ready then I thought she was. 


Sometimes it can be really hard to predict what their reaction will be. DD2 had been separating from me for years. I do work part time, we have sitters, she has danced since she was 2, she takes gymnastics, all activities where she happily leaves me and goes off with someone else. I thought preschool would be fine, and it was for one week and then that was the end of it being a good experience. 

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#5 of 15 Old 06-15-2011, 07:40 PM
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Sorry I don't any advice (I'm the poster of the leaving my toddler thread :) ). I just wondered if the school would let you only pay for one week in advance (probably not, but maybe you could ask). That way if she ended up not liking it, then you wouldn't be out so much money!

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#6 of 15 Old 06-15-2011, 08:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks Mamas for lots of greatinfo and sharing your experience.

Bentlag11- this is what Im thinking but maybe 2-3 weeks paying in advance.THey require a $500 deposit to start but im going to work on this.

Peony: your type of experience is what gives me pause. Even though DD says she wants to do this and says its ok without Mama, she generally wants mama really regularly- even at playdates where she having a great time with her best buddies. That push pull of dependence and independence is very present here which is of course totally developmentally normal!

Caitline: this is best of all crying worlds. I guess it really depends on the kid!



My thought was to maybe try ASAP because one of her best buddies has been going to this school for awhile and loves it but will only be there for 2 more weeks. So I was thinking this could help transition her and get her used to the environment, teachers etc. with a buddy showing her the ropes(though it could also feel a bit like a bait and switch!) I just saw how excited she was to see her friend there and then started interacting with others too, though shyly. At the end of the time while the kids were having lunch and she participated, she was saying Mama up Mama Up which means she wants to be held. We shall see....


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#7 of 15 Old 06-16-2011, 01:08 PM
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Sounds like you have great instincts. I would trust them and see how it goes. You know your child better than anyone.

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#8 of 15 Old 06-16-2011, 02:52 PM
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My daughter started at 26 mos and, while it was a warm, inviting space, she was being left with, what to her, were strangers.  I just stayed with her each morning during the first week until she was comfortable with my leaving.  Each day was shorter and shorter. And my recollection is that she did not cry.


Now, my son has gone to "camp" at the pre-school two days this week.  He's been coming to the school since he was a newborn, so, he is very familiar with the space and the faces.  Plus, his big sister is with him.  He didn't need us to stay with him at all.  He's also 26 mos old.  The big test will be next week when he goes solo.  Something tells me that as long as he has free run of the sand box, he'll be fine!  He did apparently cry at lunch time, though, when things slowed down and he was ready for a nap!


At the same time, both kids cry their heads off when dh and I go out for a date night.  Go figure.  Sometimes, I think this is because they are so attached.


All that to say, in the right space, right environment, a child may not cry.  But, like the pp said, trust your instincts.  We once changed music classes because I could tell my then 2 year old wasn't getting a good vibe from the teacher.  DD was totally outgoing in the previous session, but, with this teacher, not at all.  Once we switched, all was back to normal.

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#9 of 15 Old 06-16-2011, 03:18 PM
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Two thoughts:


The first is that 2 year olds don't really need to be in preschool. It's fine to delay preschool until 3 or 4 (or to skip it). If your child would thrive, it's fine, but not all kids do. And fewer 2 year olds will thrive than 3 year olds or 4 year olds.


The second is there is such a thing as separation anxiety -- I don't think it's good to avoid all separation because of that, as long as it's within reason. Your child does need to learn (at some age, whether it's 2 or 7) that other people can help care for her. Very often it's the separation or the idea of separation that causes the child to cry. If the child cries for a few minutes, but then settles down and is very happy until mom or dad returns, then the child is ready. If the child cries for a long period of time, then they're not ready. (It's also really common for the first couple of days to go OK, and then after the child understands the routine for them to become clingy and cry for a while.)


My kids went to daycare starting at about 26 months. For one child, it would have been better had we delayed it a year. For the other, she was fine. Separated easily. Rarely cried.

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#10 of 15 Old 06-17-2011, 12:29 PM
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I'm a Montessori toddler teacher.  I would say it's very normal for children to cry when they start school for the first time, but only in a limited way.  What normally happens is a child cries for maybe 5 minutes at first, before they get engaged in the environment.  They might cry like this at drop-off for the first 2-3 weeks.  Then either they stop crying or just do it in a very cursory way.  If the parents could see how happy and engaged their kids are 10 minutes after they leave, I don't think they would worry much about the crying.  If a child cries for longer than 15-20 minutes after drop-off, that to me is excessive and I will talk to the parents about ways to ease the transition, including possibly sitting quietly in the class while the child adjusts.  It depends on the child and the parent. It may turn out that their child cries a lot in general and they aren't worried about it. Or it may be that for their child to cry for 15 minutes is not something the parent feels okay with and they want to find a way to make it easier.


If a child cries miserably I usually call the parent once they have settled in to let them know how their child is doing.  I have a small program (8 kids and 2 adults) so I may be more able to do things like this than some teachers.  Sometimes if I can tell the parent is very nervous about leaving their child I will call or text just to let them know what is going on with their child.


I always advise new parents to say goodbye quickly and project confidence that their child is safe and well-cared for. Children can sense your nervousness. If you linger that usually makes it harder because the child is anxious wondering when you might suddenly leave, and also maybe confused and hoping that you might stay for the whole time. It's best to make the line clear (except in rare circumstances).  Sometimes having a goodbye ritual can help.  I think talking positively about school and letting your child walk to the door of her class herself, carrying her things, also is a good idea.

If your child has said she wants to go, she is probably ready.  3 mornings a week is a great amount of time for most 2yo's to be away from home in a fun environment with other kids.

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#11 of 15 Old 06-17-2011, 09:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks so much Mamas for your help and sharing your experience.


I particularlky appreciate the Montessori teacher sharing her experience from the other side of this equation- very valuable.


I did try to talk to the school manager about the deposit and no dice. We cant start without the deposit. So if we pay that and the first moth, we are out mucho bucks if this doesnt work. She did say that I can come for a morning next week without signing up and see how ready she seems. Of course that doesnt include me leaving because I wouldnt do that so quickly and unless we had gone over it all.


Im looking into this in the first place because I could really use the time. I havent had a break in 2 years (unless dental cleanings and haircuts count!) and I thought that having her in an enriching environment for 2 or 3 ams while I can exercise, cook and do a million other things would help me get my head back on straight and by hopefully getting some rest I can be a better and happier Mom. Right now I go through lots of happy moments with my beloved DD but with our recent toddler days of tons of crying, screaming and throwing stuff + being sick etc. all while my husband is away on business and I'm alone is really tough.


Still trying to figure it all out.

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#12 of 15 Old 06-18-2011, 12:22 PM
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I should add that some children don't cry, even if it's their first experience away from home.  But more do.  And often they just cry for a couple minutes.  It's a milestone for your child to be away from you for the first time, and saying goodbye can be difficult, but that doesn't mean it's bad.  I wonder if the teacher could call you after you leave to let you know how long she cried and how she's doing?  If she's just upset for a few minutes and then enjoys the rest of her time, I wouldn't let that stop you from doing it.  (But I hear you that the deposit is a factor, too.) 

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#13 of 15 Old 06-18-2011, 01:09 PM
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It's true, a lot of kids do cry/whine/get upset when they are first being left regularly. And it's also true that most kids are ok with an abrupt leaving and then get distracted quickly by the cool toys and other kids. My kids have taken turns trying to break my heart, but they get used to it and learn that it is a temporary "abandonment", and they get to have fun with things they don't have at home. I've found the best way to do it is stay a few minutes talking to the provider or the kids, hugs and kisses, and out the door. And be excited when you pick them up, so they know you missed them.

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#14 of 15 Old 06-18-2011, 03:16 PM
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At that age, my daughter cried whenever we left her anywhere--church nursery, therapy, with grandma.  She even cried when I left her with Daddy in the morning when I went to work.  She never cried more than a few minutes, though. A couple months later, a switch flipped and suddenly we could leave her anywhere, anytime.  She started a new group program at therapy right after her 2nd birthday, and she'd run right off and not even say goodbye.  When we came to pick her up, sometimes she'd hide from us. 

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#15 of 15 Old 06-18-2011, 05:59 PM
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I feel your pain mama. I work and my son goes to preschool in the morning and then nanny in the afternoon. Transitions have always been hard for him. We just started the next class up at his preschool and he's cried every morning for 2 weeks, even though it's his same school. Different teachers and different kids though. I went early to pick him up on Friday to observe him unawares and talk to the teacher. She completely reassured me and what I saw with my own eyes did too. 


It still breaks my heart to leave him crying, but it didn't last longer than 2 weeks when he first began preschool, so I'm hoping next week he will be fine again. He often cries when the nanny comes and he's been with her a year. He was a high needs baby and I think he is a very sensitive soul. Once he's engaged in activities, I think he's just fine.


Good luck

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