DS crying at school/staying with him - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 12 Old 08-18-2010, 10:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DS started in a K4 class today; he is 4.25 years old. I lurked around the doorway for about 5 minutes until he was in "circle time," then left. He had asked me to stay, and I'd told him I would "for a few minutes."

After school, the teachers told me he'd cried for 45 minutes to an hour, at times hysterically, wanting me. Then, apparently, he was okay. School is from 8-11:45. I thought he was going to be fine.

My gut tells me I should have stayed longer. Back in the spring, when we visited the school, the teacher noticed that DS hung back somewhat and said I could stay for a little while if necessary. Tonight he's saying (quite desperately) that he doesn't want to go back, despite having said earlier that he had a fun day.

He said he'd only go if I could stay the whole time. I wish the school encouraged that more, and would do it anyway if not for the fact that I have a 7-month-old baby.

I'm worried that I was paying too much attention to what others might think and left because all of the other parents left. I'm concerned that I've let him down and made him feel abandoned by me. He's never been to school of any type prior to today.

I just don't know what to do. It's a sweet little private school, where my very sensitive, shy dd has absolutely thrived. I want DS to do the same, but I don't know where to go from here. Pull him out and start again next year, or the next with kindergarten? Stay longer and have the baby go to work for a little while with DH? Stay there with the baby? I'm at a complete loss. Any ideas and/or support will be greatly appreciated.

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#2 of 12 Old 08-19-2010, 12:04 AM
 
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I would stay there with the baby. The baby will give you an excuse to duck out occasionally, and you can gradually build up the time that you're gone.

IME, it's usually easier for my kids if I say a quick goodbye and then leave. But, they didn't cry hysterically for an hour either. Each of my kids had days in daycare where they were very sad and missed me. Each time (I think it happened 3 times over 2 kids) the teacher helped my child write a letter describing how they missed me.

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#3 of 12 Old 08-19-2010, 12:16 AM
 
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When my older son started preschool, I had a 2 month old. I sat there every day with the baby for a couple of weeks. I would take periodic breaks, and eventually made them longer and longer, going for a walk around the neighborhood or having a cup of tea. But I told ds I would stay there until he was ready for me to go, and sure enough, one day, he said he was ready, and it was never an issue after that.

So, I'm a big fan of staying if at all possible.
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#4 of 12 Old 08-19-2010, 12:20 AM
 
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I would stay. I did some work with a preschool who encouraged parents to stay for about 2 weeks, with the time spent there less and less as the weeks went on. The kids really adjusted well to school with this method.
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#5 of 12 Old 08-19-2010, 01:20 AM
 
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As a former preschool teacher, whatever you choose to do, you need to tell your child upfront the plan and follow through consistantly. It's fine to plan on staying with him but set a time for leaving like 1st circle time and do a quick, positive good-bye and leave even if they are crying. Don't let yourself look sad and worried.. that's not reassuring to a child.

I will say that I never had a child that didn't adjust. The worst cases were always when well-meaning parents would be erratic.. they'd tell the child they were leaving but then crumble at the first tear and stay, they'd stay some days and not others, they'd leave and come back to check on them (worst thing to do,) and be late to pick them up!

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#6 of 12 Old 08-19-2010, 02:34 AM
 
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I remember one child in particular who cried *a lot* when he started back when I was a preschool teacher.
I sat with him on my lap for pretty much the *entire* first day...and most of the 2nd. (as I remember we also had a sub teacher that first day so that was even more interesting...)

That's what I did. I talked to him about whatever the group was doing while he sat with me...gave him opportunities to try things out, but never forced it. Everything was "that's OK" pretty much.

I took him around the room at free-play time and showed him our toys.

After 2 days, as I recall, the crying went from most of the day to only right away and maybe at snacktime until he was totally reassured that he did *not* "have to" eat. He started to play with our toy school buses. And every day for a long time after that, he played with the toy buses. It took him awhile to join in our snack too.

But he DID adjust, it *did* get better. What I would do in this situation is stay for a set period of time if you can, or think it would help rather than make things worse. (some kids it's better, others it's better if you leave.) My own son I stayed his first day for quite awhile, I'd say an hour or so, and he was fine after that. The next day, I left, and he cried when I left, but only for a couple minutes. Then he was OK...and now he loves school. And I think for him, staying would've prolonged it and made things worse. Only you know the answer to that one.

I think it is better to try it for a little while, whether you stay or not. It takes children a few days to understand the routine of the preschool classroom, and once they realize there is a routine and understand what comes next, they get a sense of stability that I think helps improve the separation anxiety. (They understand that XYZ that they like happens every day at this time, that they truly will not be *forced* to do anything they don't want to do, they have gotten to know the people a little bit, etc.)

If, after a few days, the crying has not improved *at all*....that might be the time to think about him being 'too young' or 'not ready yet."

Also...I think that NOT giving the child the chance to adjust to it sends a message that you think they *can't* handle it...what I think those first days do for a lot of kids is....they see that it was unfamiliar and scary at first, but then they got to know the people, the routine, see the toys....and they learned to *enjoy* it. What a major boost...the realization that they *can* come through a situation that was scary at first, but now it's OK and they *like* it.
I think there's potential for a future situation to go *worse* if a child has a "failed" attempt to look back on...wow, school was scary...and Mom took me home...I *can't* do this...

Nobody wants their child to cry, I understand that. Nobody wants to force a child to grow up too soon, or stay in a situation that they're not ready for. I get that. But....they also need to be given a small chance to spread their wings and see if they can take off.

If you are in a school where the teachers truly care about the children and are present and willing to help a child who has a hard time adjusting to being away, I think it's fine to give it a shot. Your child will *not* be sad alone...he will learn to trust that these people will help him if he needs it while he is with them.

Oh! And the other thing we did with that little boy that I remember is, we had a schedule up on the wall, in pictures, of our day. We looked at that *a lot* while we talked about the routine and I was able to show him when he would ride the bus back home. In a way that a child can easily understand--snack followed by play, then circle, then bus. Over and over and over till he understood when he would see Mom again. This might work for your son too. (mom can stay till X, then you will do Y and Z and then it will be time for me to come back!)

lovin DH since 1/04, SAHM to 3 boys 10/04, 11/08, 11/10 one girlie (1/07), and one 13 wk (10/13) just your average :ha ng multigenerational living family!!
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#7 of 12 Old 08-19-2010, 02:51 AM
 
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Another help is to send your child with a small picture of your family that they can carry or look to (laminated is nice!) We used to do this with kids who were having a rough transition. We would always know when the kids were feeling secure because they'd start forgetting their picture all over the place.

Married mom of two, DD 17 and DS 13.
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#8 of 12 Old 08-19-2010, 07:50 AM
 
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Something that might help you is to think through why he is crying. Is he scared of not knowing what will happen that day? That will pass as he gets into routine. Is he worried you will not come back? That will pass as he gets used to you returning every day. Is he worried about making friends? That will pass as he settles into the classroom and does make friends. Does he have a tough time with transitions? Isn't it the same at home, then? Etc...for almost every thing you can think of that would cause tears, there's a simple response that might calm your own emotional feelings about leaving the classroom. You are leaving him with a caring teacher who wants to help him have a good transition and great year--knowing that would help me a lot.
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#9 of 12 Old 08-19-2010, 08:38 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whatsnextmom View Post
As a former preschool teacher, whatever you choose to do, you need to tell your child upfront the plan and follow through consistantly. It's fine to plan on staying with him but set a time for leaving like 1st circle time and do a quick, positive good-bye and leave even if they are crying. Don't let yourself look sad and worried.. that's not reassuring to a child.

I will say that I never had a child that didn't adjust. The worst cases were always when well-meaning parents would be erratic.. they'd tell the child they were leaving but then crumble at the first tear and stay, they'd stay some days and not others, they'd leave and come back to check on them (worst thing to do,) and be late to pick them up!
ITA! This is wise advice OP. I am not a teacher, but I have a 3 yo in daycare and a 5 yo who just started school and this rings so true. Some kids have a lot harder time adjusting. My ds started daycare and was a breeze, happy to be there, from the first week. My dd started at the same wonderful place and was furious and sad that I would leave her there. But I knew this was a good place, and she just took it harder and longer to adjust. If I stayed longer than expected, it only made her cry more.

IMO, consistency on the parents part helps a lot. I would actually advise NOT staying - you are prolonging the sad part for your DC. Say goodbye, give a good hug and kiss and walk out the door. And do it consistently, day after day. And be confident and cheerful about it, that you know this is a good place for your DC, because they will pick up on your emotions more than anything. And the crying that started for 45 min will suddenly be 5 min, and then it will be gone before you even get down the hall - meaning you hear them stop and start laughing and playing instead. The best is actually on the day you come to pick them up and they don't want to go home with you - they are having so much fun they ask to stay!
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#10 of 12 Old 08-19-2010, 08:58 AM
 
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DS cried so much the first time we put him in preschool, we had to pull him out. He was the youngest one in the group, and he just wasn't ready. My MIL who watched him would stay for a while each day, but it never got better. The event that had us pull him out was when he ran out of the room and actually got down the hall toward the door (it was locked, but still).

So, next year he goes to preschool again. This time we chose one that was a part of a teaching program at our high school. The class had about 15 children and 15 high school girls who wanted to be teachers. The class also had a preschool teacher and a high school teacher as the guiding forces. So DS had constant one-on-one. Yes, he still cried at first, but it got better A LOT quicker. He did this program for two years. (He has an October b-day, so I did not send him to kindy until he was already 5.)

Kindergarten was great. He never cried once!

Oy, first grade he started crying again. It was the first time he did all day school. It lasted for about 2 weeks, gradually getting better. We did not stay with him. His teacher did have a para-pro sit with him occasionally.

I would think that his crying will get better because he's over 4. It might take a couple of weeks. I also think that staying sometimes makes it worse, but understand that I'm much more mainstream than most of the moms on here, so you might take it with a grain of salt.
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#11 of 12 Old 08-19-2010, 01:57 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AllisonR View Post
.

IMO, consistency on the parents part helps a lot. I would actually advise NOT staying - you are prolonging the sad part for your DC. Say goodbye, give a good hug and kiss and walk out the door. And do it consistently, day after day. And be confident and cheerful about it, that you know this is a good place for your DC, because they will pick up on your emotions more than anything. And the crying that started for 45 min will suddenly be 5 min, and then it will be gone before you even get down the hall - meaning you hear them stop and start laughing and playing instead. The best is actually on the day you come to pick them up and they don't want to go home with you - they are having so much fun they ask to stay!
ITA with this! My son was 3 when he started preschool and I was a WRECK. He was very upset the first days and I agonized about how to handle it and ultimately got great advice from a teacher on here. About trusting the caregiver, showing the child that you trust the caregiver, giving your child the same experience as his peer group, starting as you mean to continue, etc. It just made sense to me. The next school day I took a deep breath. Adjusted my attitude. Painted on a smile and demonstrated to my son that I knew he was heading to a great place and that I'd be back in a couple of hours. It made a HUGE difference. I really think I was crippling him with my own anxiety.

So we kept it up-up-up beat. "I can't WAIT to hear all about your day!" "I'm so excited that your teacher is so nice!" "Did you see that boy has a Thomas bag, too?". etc etc.

It was a real bitter sweet moment for me in a way (mostly sweet). I was learning that there would be other trusted adults and I would no longer be the center of his life 24 hours a day. His world was growing bigger and it was time for me to step back and let him excel. And he did!


DS (6.06), DD (10.08), DD (05.11).

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#12 of 12 Old 08-31-2010, 10:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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OP here, wanting to update with what worked, just in case someone else has this problem down the road.

I took the advice of Lynn, oceanbaby, and Freud and hung around. So far, it has made a HUGE difference. The baby and I bounce around in the hall, let DS catch a few glimpses of us, then leave after about half an hour, usually.

I want to thank you guys so much for your advice. It made me feel like, whew, it was okay to try that. Others had been there. And the teacher kept saying, "I'm fine with whatever you want to do...you know your child."

Brackin, mom to DD (10/02), DS (5/06) and DS (12/09) jumpers.gif
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