Having a great deal of difficulty w/ds starting kindergarten (long & involved) - Page 2 - Mothering Forums
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#31 of 55 Old 08-22-2010, 04:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I responded to your other thread, but I wanted to answer this question. In a word, YES, this is exactly what you should do.

You have tried talking. You have tried reasoning. After five years of your son screaming to get you to stay with him there is NO WAY that more talking and reasoning are going to prevent him from kicking and screaming when he is presented with the fact that it's time for school. "Taking it slow" is only going to prolong the whole sorry process.

Pick him - up no matter what he's doing - and take him to school. I would be very surprised if he doesn't calm down very quickly once he sees that his usual tactics aren't going to work.

I agree about taking him early. And it sounds as if you have a terrific ally in his teacher. Good luck tomorrow!
Yes, we will have to just carry him down to the car. The thing about his tantrums is that he is not out of control when he has them. He did not have a single tantrum as a toddler, as in lying on the floor, kicking and screaming, etc. It's not an emotional meltdown for him. He sees he is not getting his way and starts yelling and fighting us and forcing himself to cry. I can tell the difference between the natural tears that spring up when he is upset, and the ones that come when he is angry and not getting his way. When he is sent to time out for the angry tantrums (which are rare) he stops IMMEDIATELY when he is told he will not be allowed out of time out until he calms down. When he comes out of time out he is sweet as pie. I figure that there will be an angry tantrum when we leave home, to be replaced by genuine tears and sadness when we leave him at school.

I know that this is something our family MUST do, and I feel good about the plan we have in place. If it doesn't work, then we will get DS outside help.

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#32 of 55 Old 08-22-2010, 05:24 PM
 
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Part of me knows this is bad advice to offer, but it sounds like you are in a desperate way, so I"ll offer it.

Have you tried a bribe?

Is there anything special he really looks forward to? Can you hold it out as a treat for after school? I've never had anything as severe as what you are describing, but when DD switched daycares 2 years ago drop offs were horrible and hysterical. I couldn't take it, so I told her that if she could be brave and get through drop off and the day with no tears, when I picked her up each day I would have a surprize treat for her. That week I brought lollipops, a popsicle on day, a silly little plastic toy one day--it just got her over the hump of her resistance. And then she got in the habit of going and going in cheerfully, and that was that. I didn't have to bring treats for a year.

I know bribing isn't good, it's not something I do regularly, but it worked for me in a similar situation.
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#33 of 55 Old 08-22-2010, 06:44 PM
 
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I can see that I am late to the thread and you have gotten a lot of good advice already, so I will just offer this, in addition to the advice you have already gotten:

If he just can't seem to transition, no matter what you do, you might need to consider either a private SN school, or going to the public school where you can have SpEd services and have an evaluation done.

One of the boys that is in some of my son's social skills groups and playgroups sounds very much like your child. I don't think he is on the spectrum, and I have no idea if he has intellectual disabilities (although I suspect not), or if he has any actual dx at all, but he could not manage in a regular classroom at all.

The SN classrooms have professionals that are not upset or ruffled by kids having meltdowns like that and can provide a much higher level of support. In the group we are at the mom was in the room with him and gradually has been able to move farther and farther away from him, as he could handle it, and is now occasionally able to be outside the room in the observation room for short bits. It has taken time and effort, but he is making strides towards being able to self-manage better.

I don't know if your situation is that severe, but if it is, that is something to look into. You don't have to have a diagnosis of any kind to get SpEd services, just have to demonstrate a need or inability to function in a typical classroom. Even if you would go for a diagnosis, I haven't a clue what it would be because my son's issues are very different than yours, but the SN forum might be able to give some insight.

eta: if you can find a good child psychologist, especially a behavioral psychologist that can work with you, that might be really helpful. Somebody to help you set up parenting strategies and behavioral plans that will help you to manage his anxiety without trauma. It doesn't really matter what lead to this, but it sounds like you guys could use some help figuring out some solutions. Some of the best parents I know make use of a behavior psych to help with particularly challenging behaviors.

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#34 of 55 Old 08-22-2010, 06:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Part of me knows this is bad advice to offer, but it sounds like you are in a desperate way, so I"ll offer it.

Have you tried a bribe?

Is there anything special he really looks forward to? Can you hold it out as a treat for after school? I've never had anything as severe as what you are describing, but when DD switched daycares 2 years ago drop offs were horrible and hysterical. I couldn't take it, so I told her that if she could be brave and get through drop off and the day with no tears, when I picked her up each day I would have a surprize treat for her. That week I brought lollipops, a popsicle on day, a silly little plastic toy one day--it just got her over the hump of her resistance. And then she got in the habit of going and going in cheerfully, and that was that. I didn't have to bring treats for a year.

I know bribing isn't good, it's not something I do regularly, but it worked for me in a similar situation.
Yes, I've tried that. We only go to the toy store for special treats, like birthdays. He will periodically ask when we are going to go there again, stressing how much he really, REALLY wants to go. I told him that if he can stay in school an entire day without me there, we would go to the toy store and he could pick out what he wanted (within reason) as a special gift for having grown up so much. At first he really went for it and talked about it a lot. He bailed at the last minute though, and I don't even think I could bribe him with his own life-sized tractor or trip to Disneyland. I really thought it was going to work, too

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#35 of 55 Old 08-23-2010, 09:39 AM
 
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"Taking it slow" is only going to prolong the whole sorry process.

Pick him - up no matter what he's doing - and take him to school. I would be very surprised if he doesn't calm down very quickly once he sees that his usual tactics aren't going to work.
I couldn't disagree more with this!! And this is the attitude you're likely to find from teachers who will tout their years of experience dealing with separation anxiety. It does work very well for mild separation anxiety, but if he truly has severe separation anxiety "ripping that bandaid off" and throwing him in to sink or swim can backfire.

I had a child much like the OP describes. It was horrible for all involved. We did try dropping her off and "ripping the bandaid off" so to speak. I wish we had never done that. That was when she was in preschool. She screamed and wailed like she was in mortal danger and when I picked her up 3 hours later it was clear she had been crying most of the morning. I still feel wretched about it 5 years later. She did very reluctantly become resigned to going to preschool. She was never excited about it.

The next year, for K, we did it much, much slower. For a child with true anxiety that's really the best way to go if you can swing it. I stayed through circle time (about 45 minutes after drop off). At first I would stay inside with her and then I began to tell her I needed to take her little sister outside on the playground and I'd be right there and would come back in at circle time. I stayed for circle for awhile, I believe, and then I worked up to leaving at the beginning of the circle.

The long slow good bye really helped her to become comfortable at school. She was fairly shy and very, very cautious about new things. She loved her teachers, though, and now at 9 and in 4th grade is pretty happily adjusted. She'll always be a little cautious about some things (won't drink soda, for example because of the fizzies, but loves Thai food), but she's open to new adventures. She went on an overnight wilderness trip with her class last year with no parents at all!

good luck!

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#36 of 55 Old 08-23-2010, 11:57 AM
 
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I wanted to add this. Try to pick a likely friend and arrange a playdate outside of school at your home or their home. It is best if it can be at one of your homes and not at a park or playground. It did wonders for my anxious dd1.

I know you probably don't know many of the parents, but ask the teacher who she thinks would be a good match and then ask that parent and go ahead and appeal to their compassionate side and explain that your ds doesn't know anyone and you're wanting to make the transition as smooth as possible. You kinda have to put yourself out there, but most people are willing to help and if it works with their schedule would be willing to do it at least once. A single playdate outside of school can have a big impact for a truly anxious child. You're establishing some familiarity and sort of putting a toe in the water without having to jump all the way in.

Good luck!

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#37 of 55 Old 08-23-2010, 12:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I wanted to add this. Try to pick a likely friend and arrange a playdate outside of school at your home or their home. It is best if it can be at one of your homes and not at a park or playground. It did wonders for my anxious dd1.

I know you probably don't know many of the parents, but ask the teacher who she thinks would be a good match and then ask that parent and go ahead and appeal to their compassionate side and explain that your ds doesn't know anyone and you're wanting to make the transition as smooth as possible. You kinda have to put yourself out there, but most people are willing to help and if it works with their schedule would be willing to do it at least once. A single playdate outside of school can have a big impact for a truly anxious child. You're establishing some familiarity and sort of putting a the in the water without having to jump all the way in.

Good luck!
What was very surprising for me when I was watching DS on his first 2 days of Kindy is that he wasn't shy or anxious at all. He was very chatty, social, and talked to or played with all the other kids. I had no idea he was such a social butterfly. And here I always thought he had some sort of psychological disorder because he refused to play with another child until he was 4, and still won't respond when most adults talk to him. Well, he's a completely different kid in kindy. I know he is ready for this. If he cries all day when I leave him and truly cannot adjust, then I'll know he has something he needs help with. Also, there are only 14 kids in his class and he has a very loving and competent teacher, PLUS there is a full time teacher's aid in class, in addition to any parent helper that day. The kids are well watched and supported.

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#38 of 55 Old 08-23-2010, 03:35 PM
 
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What was very surprising for me when I was watching DS on his first 2 days of Kindy is that he wasn't shy or anxious at all. He was very chatty, social, and talked to or played with all the other kids. I had no idea he was such a social butterfly. And here I always thought he had some sort of psychological disorder because he refused to play with another child until he was 4, and still won't respond when most adults talk to him. Well, he's a completely different kid in kindy. I know he is ready for this. If he cries all day when I leave him and truly cannot adjust, then I'll know he has something he needs help with. Also, there are only 14 kids in his class and he has a very loving and competent teacher, PLUS there is a full time teacher's aid in class, in addition to any parent helper that day. The kids are well watched and supported.
Just wondering how things went for you and your ds today. Hope things are going well. (((hugs)))
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#39 of 55 Old 08-23-2010, 03:51 PM
 
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This is part of who your son *is*, it's not due to your parenting. Once ds passed 3yo he would drop me like a hot potato if there was something more interesting to do. Actually, both my children are like that.


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#40 of 55 Old 08-23-2010, 04:19 PM
 
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Part of me knows this is bad advice to offer, but it sounds like you are in a desperate way, so I"ll offer it.

Have you tried a bribe?

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Originally Posted by MommaMoo View Post
Yes, I've tried that. We only go to the toy store for special treats, like birthdays. He will periodically ask when we are going to go there again, stressing how much he really, REALLY wants to go. I told him that if he can stay in school an entire day without me there, we would go to the toy store and he could pick out what he wanted (within reason) as a special gift for having grown up so much. At first he really went for it and talked about it a lot. He bailed at the last minute though, and I don't even think I could bribe him with his own life-sized tractor or trip to Disneyland. I really thought it was going to work, too
Would it help if you made the goal smaller? Instead of stay in school all day without Mom, maybe the goal could be to calmly go into class and let you walk away for, say, 10 minutes. Not the whole day. Then you come back and stay for the rest of the day. Then give him the treat/toy/bribe/incentive object.

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#41 of 55 Old 08-24-2010, 03:40 AM
 
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Just wanted to say if you take the slow route, that these were some strategies a friend of mine did.

The stages went like this:

stay the whole time

stay the whole time, shift body either so you're looking at the wall or your side is to the wall, not in a line of direct eye contact

do the same with body position, but reading a magazine or book so that you are not present as far as attention

take trips to the bathroom in between reading, saying goodbye and leaving a purse or bag he can see

take trips of longer duration leaving the purse

leave the whole time with purse there
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#42 of 55 Old 08-24-2010, 04:25 AM
 
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Okay, so am I doing the right thing by making him go to kindy? I'm going to work out some way with the teacher that we can get my kid to stay in school without me. It wouldn't be beyond him to shriek his head off and insist on waiting in the parking lot until I return. Is this behavior in the normal range, or is something "wrong" with my kid? Oh, and I cannot home school him, but I will take him out of school and start kindy next year if he truly cannot handle it. But then I may not be able to get him back into this school.

Thanks a million to anyone who made it through this post
Are the teachers supportive? Will they let him cry in the class as many days that are needed and work to make him feel comfortable?
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#43 of 55 Old 08-24-2010, 10:47 AM
 
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You have tried talking. You have tried reasoning. After five years of your son screaming to get you to stay with him there is NO WAY that more talking and reasoning are going to prevent him from kicking and screaming when he is presented with the fact that it's time for school. "Taking it slow" is only going to prolong the whole sorry process.

Pick him - up no matter what he's doing - and take him to school. I would be very surprised if he doesn't calm down very quickly once he sees that his usual tactics aren't going to work.

Sometimes the problem isn't "discipline." Her son is past the age where it is typical to have such severe anxiety and it is not going to disappear by "force."

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#44 of 55 Old 08-24-2010, 10:49 AM
 
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Yes, the teacher is quite willing to work with us to figure out a strategy. He shows every sign of being capable of handling kindergarten. He did awesome in class and was really jazzed by it. It's just the separation thing. He really needs to do this, and he CAN do it. I just need to figure a way to get him out the freaking door and on the school campus.
You may want to post on the special needs board; I have seen posts regarding child anxiety before.

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#45 of 55 Old 08-24-2010, 12:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So today was the big day. DS got pretty upset before we left the house, telling us that he loves us so much that he doesn't want to be away from us He wouldn't get dressed, so we had to help him. We didn't have to force him because he didn't fight us. DH carried him to the car because he didn't want to walk. He calmed down and was quiet on the way to school, and walked bravely into class. We did the transfer a half hour before school started. Of course he cried when DH and I left but we did it pretty fast so he couldn't grab on to us. I called the school a half hour later and was informed that DS was doing great and walking around outside with his teacher and smiling I really his teacher. DH and I agreed that we couldn't have done this with a less competent teacher. We felt awful enough just walking away from DS this morning, but we had no reservations about the loving care he would receive. I just hope it gets progressively easier...

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#46 of 55 Old 08-24-2010, 01:44 PM
 
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It gets easier. What usually has helped my students like that is finding what they love doing and doing it with them. I had one student who loved to water plants, so I gave that to him eright away when he came in. For a few days, he watered plants crying. After a while, he walked in with a smile going right for the watering can.
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#47 of 55 Old 08-24-2010, 02:18 PM
 
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With my son, we tried going slowly. We really did. He had to go to daycare when he was 3 and we tried to make it a gentle transition.

It really made it so much worse. He really like daycare, but he liked it so much better when I was there too. It was like his perfect world. Fun activities, lots of playmates and his mom! What else could he want...

After trying for 3 weeks to stay with him and then leave with him always having complete meltdowns, I finally changed tactics. When we were both calm I told him that we were going to have a new plan. I told him that I would come in with him, read him 1 book and then I was going to leave and he was going to eat snack. I drew it out on a small piece of paper that we could both reference at daycare. We talked about it alot over the weekend. Then, on Monday morning, I did it.

The first time it felt like it went against every single parenting ideal that we'd held. It felt so anti-AP that it was insane. But I did it. I had to work. I had to actually go to work or I was going to lose my job. They said that he threw an incredible angry tantrum when I left. He wasn't really sad, but really really mad. The director was on hand to help out and he ended up spending the morning as her office assistant.

But over that week it got both worse and better.

The next week was much much better.

We all learned alot. He learned that sometimes we really did mean what we said. He learned that sometime our needs (mine to earn money so that we could eat and have a place to live) did actually outweigh his needs. We learned that it didn't break/hurt/destroy him for us to follow through even though it made him very sad/angry with us.

It really made out relationship much healthier. We made sure to have alot of reattachment time over the first few weeks.
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#48 of 55 Old 08-24-2010, 02:22 PM
 
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So today was the big day. DS got pretty upset before we left the house, telling us that he loves us so much that he doesn't want to be away from us He wouldn't get dressed, so we had to help him. We didn't have to force him because he didn't fight us. DH carried him to the car because he didn't want to walk. He calmed down and was quiet on the way to school, and walked bravely into class. We did the transfer a half hour before school started. Of course he cried when DH and I left but we did it pretty fast so he couldn't grab on to us. I called the school a half hour later and was informed that DS was doing great and walking around outside with his teacher and smiling I really his teacher. DH and I agreed that we couldn't have done this with a less competent teacher. We felt awful enough just walking away from DS this morning, but we had no reservations about the loving care he would receive. I just hope it gets progressively easier...



Congratulations! That's just wonderful!

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#49 of 55 Old 08-24-2010, 03:33 PM
 
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With my son, we tried going slowly. We really did. He had to go to daycare when he was 3 and we tried to make it a gentle transition.

It really made it so much worse. He really like daycare, but he liked it so much better when I was there too. It was like his perfect world. Fun activities, lots of playmates and his mom! What else could he want...

After trying for 3 weeks to stay with him and then leave with him always having complete meltdowns, I finally changed tactics. When we were both calm I told him that we were going to have a new plan. I told him that I would come in with him, read him 1 book and then I was going to leave and he was going to eat snack. I drew it out on a small piece of paper that we could both reference at daycare. We talked about it alot over the weekend. Then, on Monday morning, I did it.

The first time it felt like it went against every single parenting ideal that we'd held. It felt so anti-AP that it was insane. But I did it. I had to work. I had to actually go to work or I was going to lose my job. They said that he threw an incredible angry tantrum when I left. He wasn't really sad, but really really mad. The director was on hand to help out and he ended up spending the morning as her office assistant.

But over that week it got both worse and better.

The next week was much much better.

We all learned alot. He learned that sometimes we really did mean what we said. He learned that sometime our needs (mine to earn money so that we could eat and have a place to live) did actually outweigh his needs. We learned that it didn't break/hurt/destroy him for us to follow through even though it made him very sad/angry with us.

It really made out relationship much healthier. We made sure to have alot of reattachment time over the first few weeks.
I think a large part of the reason going slow didn't work was b/c you were going into the class and interacting with him. When I did the transition with DS, I only went into the classroom and interacted with him in there during tours. Once he actually started school, I was out in the hallway. If he wanted to go into class and work with the other students, he had to leave me. All I did while there was sit and read or knit or chat with the other mommy who had an anxious child.

DS's separation issues from me were truly about anxiety, not about it is nice to have mom focusing on me and playing with me. DS really wanted to go to school and do the activities there, but he also was terrified of being in a room full of strangers. DS would go into the room and work, but as soon as a loud noise happened, or someone jostled him, he came running to me. Basically, I couldn't leave till he was sure he was safe, was comfortable enough to talk to his teachers, trusted his teachers, and so on.

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#50 of 55 Old 08-24-2010, 03:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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With my son, we tried going slowly. We really did. He had to go to daycare when he was 3 and we tried to make it a gentle transition.

It really made it so much worse. He really like daycare, but he liked it so much better when I was there too. It was like his perfect world. Fun activities, lots of playmates and his mom! What else could he want...

After trying for 3 weeks to stay with him and then leave with him always having complete meltdowns, I finally changed tactics. When we were both calm I told him that we were going to have a new plan. I told him that I would come in with him, read him 1 book and then I was going to leave and he was going to eat snack. I drew it out on a small piece of paper that we could both reference at daycare. We talked about it alot over the weekend. Then, on Monday morning, I did it.

The first time it felt like it went against every single parenting ideal that we'd held. It felt so anti-AP that it was insane. But I did it. I had to work. I had to actually go to work or I was going to lose my job. They said that he threw an incredible angry tantrum when I left. He wasn't really sad, but really really mad. The director was on hand to help out and he ended up spending the morning as her office assistant.

But over that week it got both worse and better.

The next week was much much better.

We all learned alot. He learned that sometimes we really did mean what we said. He learned that sometime our needs (mine to earn money so that we could eat and have a place to live) did actually outweigh his needs. We learned that it didn't break/hurt/destroy him for us to follow through even though it made him very sad/angry with us.

It really made out relationship much healthier. We made sure to have alot of reattachment time over the first few weeks.
Yes, our situation is a lot like yours. I felt like, "How could I leave my child when he needs me?" But he didn't need me. He hardly ever looked at me while I was in class and had a blast. He handled himself fine in a variety of situations.

Our family learned lots of lessons from this incident. Now I can clearly see that DS had gotten used to me not meaning to follow through with what I say, like on the second day of school when I said I would be outside. Well he turned on the waterworks and I went in the classroom with him. DS has hopefully learned that he is safe in other people's care and can be more independent.

He is still in school today, but I spoke with his teacher on the phone earlier. She told me he cried for less than 10 minutes this morning, then worried for a while longer. Then he just let go of it and became engaged in the day. He even forgot about the stuffed animal that he brought with him for comfort. I am so, so proud of him

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#51 of 55 Old 08-24-2010, 03:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It gets easier. What usually has helped my students like that is finding what they love doing and doing it with them. I had one student who loved to water plants, so I gave that to him eright away when he came in. For a few days, he watered plants crying. After a while, he walked in with a smile going right for the watering can.
His teacher knows about his favorite things, so that's helpful. The kids all get to pick out a job to do, and DS was very excited to get to water the garden. He is a budding botanist (pun intended) so it was perfect that he got to do that.

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#52 of 55 Old 08-24-2010, 04:11 PM
 
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Yes, our situation is a lot like yours. I felt like, "How could I leave my child when he needs me?" But he didn't need me. He hardly ever looked at me while I was in class and had a blast. He handled himself fine in a variety of situations.

Our family learned lots of lessons from this incident. Now I can clearly see that DS had gotten used to me not meaning to follow through with what I say, like on the second day of school when I said I would be outside. Well he turned on the waterworks and I went in the classroom with him. DS has hopefully learned that he is safe in other people's care and can be more independent.

He is still in school today, but I spoke with his teacher on the phone earlier. She told me he cried for less than 10 minutes this morning, then worried for a while longer. Then he just let go of it and became engaged in the day. He even forgot about the stuffed animal that he brought with him for comfort. I am so, so proud of him
Yes. My son would be totally interested in playing or eating until I would go to leave. Then he would freak out. I'd think that he needed me to stay, so I would.

I think that AP is really about a child's needs not their wants. I think that some kids will hit a wall with being able to move forward on their own. They need a push occasionally.

If I'd left my son and he'd spent the evenings completely miserable we would have reeavaluated. But he was basically fine. For a while he was a bit more clingy, but nothing serious.

He just needed a shove. And I'm glad we did it. Since then he's needed a few more shoves, but he always responds well to them. He's old enough now that we can talk about it. We can tell him flat out that it seems like he's hit a wall and he just needs to do it. He even agrees now.
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#53 of 55 Old 08-24-2010, 09:28 PM
 
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Hooray!! This is wonderful. It sounds like he's a spirited little guy (you might like to check out Mary Sheedy Kurckina's books) who has some moderate separation anxiety.

My dd1 was more like eepster's dc, with true severe anxiety. It was pretty horrible and lasted throught at least half of kindergarten although it did get better and better over time.

So glad he did well today. Fingers crossed for many more good days, too.

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#54 of 55 Old 08-24-2010, 11:05 PM
 
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Congratulations Mommamoo!

 
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#55 of 55 Old 08-24-2010, 11:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hooray!! This is wonderful. It sounds like he's a spirited little guy (you might like to check out Mary Sheedy Kurckina's books) who has some moderate separation anxiety.

My dd1 was more like eepster's dc, with true severe anxiety. It was pretty horrible and lasted throught at least half of kindergarten although it did get better and better over time.

So glad he did well today. Fingers crossed for many more good days, too.
I think "Spirited" is a good term for DS! It sure gets tricky, trying to figure out what will work, not wanting to do the wrong thing. That must have been so stressful to have your DD upset for so long. Glad she got better!

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