Having a great deal of difficulty w/ds starting kindergarten (long & involved) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 55 Old 08-20-2010, 01:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I was very excited to get DS into a lovely little charter school that is a short drive away. It's a gentle, nurturing place that doesn't force academics in kindy. A big part of the curriculum is teaching respect for the earth (they even have compost buckets) and being kind to each other. The teacher is amazing and loved by kids, parents, and the school staff. I've seen her in action, as I've sat in ds's class for the past 2 days, and I was very impressed. She is wonderful with even the most difficult child, doesn't play favorites, and zeroes in on the kids who need the most nurturing. She uses gentle discipline and teaches kids through natural consequences. He LOVES the school and the teacher, and just blossomed in that setting. So there's no problem with the school.

I admittedly am feeling very upset at being separated from my son for 4.5 hours a day, since we've been together every day since he was born. I've cried over it and dealt with my misgivings and I know that this situation is the best for him (and me, and ds's little brother who is on the way). DS is highly active and curious and needs a lot of stimulation. I cannot provide him with all he needs at home.

Now the problem. He is *extremely* attached to me and absolutely refuses to go to school unless I sit in class with him. This is nothing new and has been the main source of the difficulty that we have with him and it also makes DH and I incredibly angry sometimes. He has been so ridiculously clingy since he was a baby. At that age it was to be expected and didn't bother me, but it NEVER lessened. It would take forever to go into all the details, so I'll use a recent one. We were in Disneyland in July, and MIL was with us. DS is close with her and comfortable. She was right next to him while he sat in his stroller, and dh and I were about 30 feet away from him in line at the bakery. We were in full view, and that was too much separation for ds. He screamed and cried, getting louder and louder, until dh went over to him. We couldn't leave him to do anything on our own, since we didn't want to leave MIL to deal with an uncontrollably shrieking kid. It just feels so controlling at this point, that this is what he does he get his way. He didn't go to preschool and he almost never stays with babysitters.

DH says that all kids are like that, that they don't like being separated from mom. He thinks we "babied" ds too much and waited too long for this separation. This morning, ds was supposed to do kindy on his own for the first time and dh was taking him, but ds starting crying and tantruming and wouldn't leave the house. He was flailing and fighting dh when he tried to pick him up. DH gets angry and says stupid things, like "Well, I'm disappointed in you and I'm not playing with you until you go to school!!" I mean, I am admittedly angry with ds right now for doing this again, but I don't think that saying those types of things helps much.

I know that I have been part of the problem with ds's behavior. He is a very sweet and gentle child, and although I have been pushing him for a long time to be more independent, maybe I didn't do it strongly enough or in the right way. I've always been very protective of him. Even in comparison to children in his age range, he is very naive and usually the sweetest and most openly enthusiastic of the group. I figured I could avoid any anxiety I might be transferring to him at kindy by having dh drop him off, but that was a disaster.

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

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#2 of 55 Old 08-20-2010, 02:41 PM
 
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I just responded to another post about ds starting kindy today. Because at least as far as dropping him off it did not go well.

It sounds like our ds's are a lot alike.
My ds has been home this past year, because we had ds(2) born in December and I've been staying home. DS would have been well off in pt preschool, but we couldn't afford it. Prior to that he had been in a preschool oriented daycare. It took him half of that year to really "participate" and talk to his teacher. He's always been super reserved, very attatched to mama, and long to warm up to new people or new situation.

So we were nervous about kindy and his lack of socializing in the last year. Fortunately for us my dh works at the school ds is attending. But since dh is a teacher he can't exactly have ds coming to find him and dh doesn't have time to check on him. But ds has had plenty of opportunities to meet his new teacher and lot's of time spent at the school.

But today I dropped him off and I wasn't allowed into the classroom. Ds was clinging to me and crying and they pried him away and took him inside. I had NO idea this is how they were going to approach it. I did spend time in the classroom a few days ago for the one hour of "meet your teacher". But I think for him it would have been best if the "meet your teacher" was at the beginning of a full day of school in which I would have left after that hour. I know he would have still had a tough time transitioning. But this morning just felt so rough and I feel like I lied to him about what the drop off would look like. Because I didn't know!

At least you have had time to be in the classroom with your ds thus far.
But I will say that he probably will do better once you leave, you will need to at some point. My ds was like that for daycare. I tried to have gentle drop offs and help him get situated and then I would leave. But he is the type of kid who wouldn't be comfortable tantruming in front of someone he doesn't know. He would probably just turn inward and be quiet and obliging (but not necessarily without anxiety, KWIM?) But you can alway leave and let the teacher handle it and see how it goes. Maybe he will scream in the parking lot and then maybe he'll do better than you expect.

My dh taught kindy and now teaches first grade and he's had a few kids who will still cry in first grade. I do think that these kids do need to foster a little more independence for their own mental health and happiness, believe me I have one of these kids!! But I realize how hard it is to do it gently. I'm hoping being in a structured but gentle environment will help my ds figure it out....
I have to admit that when he was in daycare/preschool, he really made a huge leap during that year. By the end of the year he was interacting with the other kids, talking to his teacher and really identified with it as "his school". He still talks about his old school and friends over a year later.

He is one of the younger kids going into kindergarten, just turned 5 in July. But honestly I don't think he'd be more prepared if we held him out for a year. I think his personality is just reserved and he'll only become more comfortable with people when he is in a setting to challenge him to do so. I'm just hoping to try and give him some tools to do so.

Thankfully for you it sounds like the school is a good fit. Have you thought about talking to the teacher after school (without your ds around) to come up with a game plan and to see how she would work with your ds once you leave the classroom? If he is in 1/2 day, I don't think you'd benefit by doing preschool over kindy. And if he is attatched as you say, it sounds like he could use more social interaction without you than he's had so far.

I would probably stop talking to your ds about how he's expected to stay at school on his own. You'v'e told him it will happen and just leave it at that. I know the buildup is sometimes too much for my ds. And remember that teachers have dealt with kids like this before. After you've actually let him be at school without, you can then evaluate and see how it's going.

Good luck mama! It's not easy, I know.
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#3 of 55 Old 08-20-2010, 03:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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How funny, I was just reading your reply on the other thread and thinking "Well that sounds like my ds" when I saw your reply to my thread. He also just turned 5 in July!

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Originally Posted by beebalmmama View Post
Thankfully for you it sounds like the school is a good fit. Have you thought about talking to the teacher after school (without your ds around) to come up with a game plan and to see how she would work with your ds once you leave the classroom? If he is in 1/2 day, I don't think you'd benefit by doing preschool over kindy. And if he is attatched as you say, it sounds like he could use more social interaction without you than he's had so far.
Good luck mama! It's not easy, I know.
The teacher and I were talking yesterday, and she suggested that we do our separating about 10 minutes before school starts, with her present. She will comfort him and take it from there. She said that she would call me if a half hour went by and ds was still crying/inconsolable. She's a pro and has dealt both with kids like ds and anxious mamas like me.

I was shocked and very proud of how ds handled all the interactions in school. Since he STILL, even after 5 years, refuses to speak with people at dh's work whom he sees on a weekly basis, and he refuses to respond when most people talk to him, I figured him to be ridiculously introverted, like me. Turns out that he's a social butterfly. He talked to all the kids, played with them, went to his teacher with all his questions, and hardly ever looked at me. And that was after the first hour of the first day! He is obviously happy there. I don't think it would be beneficial to wait another year, this problem is not going away.

Another thing I like about this school is that is has an optional 2-year kindy program. There are a few kids in ds's class who are doing the second year. I assume ds will be doing that too, since he is still pretty young. So he isn't pressured to make leaps and bounds this year.

If we try a variety of ways to keep him in school and it doesn't work, perhaps there is something more serious that he needs help with.

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#4 of 55 Old 08-20-2010, 04:59 PM
 
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It does sound like he enjoys it. My ds is like that in a way. He really enjoys social interactions but just can't seem to let him self step away from my side. He also will not answer people when they talk to him. He even gives kids at the park (whom he's not been introduced to) mean looks. I think it's just his way of coping with not knowing how to introduce himself or start a friendship. Because once he does strike up a friendship, they are very dear to him and has so much fun and doesn't stop talking.

It sounds like the teacher is trying to make it a gentle transition. I think the separation before class begins is a good idea, that way she can help him before all the other kids come into class.

I believe that all kids develop at a different rate and in their own time. But at least with my ds I think that this last year without as much social interaction there was some digression. I think some social development requires interaction with new and different faces, imo.

On the home front. Age 4 has been a tough year for us, which we are still dealing with even at the turn of 5. But I know for dh and I, we've really had to buckle down and mean what we say. It doesn't come easy for me becaue I'm not a strong disciplinarian. But ds has definitely been pushing his boundaries this year.
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#5 of 55 Old 08-20-2010, 05:16 PM
 
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I think a big part of the problem is already answered in your OP. I think he is sensing YOUR reluctance to be away from him and feeding on that. You are projecting a feeling of fear and trauma at separation so he is responding in the same way. If you can show him that there is nothing to be scared of and that you will be fine during your separation then he will probably feel more confident.

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#6 of 55 Old 08-20-2010, 05:19 PM
 
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I give you credit for putting your own anxiety aside and letting him grow through this transition to school. I do think kids can sense our anxiety (like dogs sense fear) so I would do everything you can to truly focus on all the many positives in this situation.

I disagree that "all kids are like that" but I do think that letting him skip all parts of early childhood that ease you into kindergarten (like preschool, babysitters on date nights that you and your dp take, etc) did none of you any favors for this transition. If he has used fussing/crying/screaming to get you back next to him (the Disneyland example you gave) over and over, and it has always worked - well, I'm betting he will keep it up until it doesn't. Wouldn't you? He has an effective system going here. But honestly, it isn't good for him or you or baby on the way.

Should mom and dad be primary trusted and loved people in a child's life - definitely in an ideal world. But finding out that he is safe with gramma, auntie, your best friend with a child his age, experienced babysitter, preschool teacher, etc - well, that is good too.

I was a SAHM for a decade for my three kids. But starting when dd1 was two weeks old, I would make a quick trip to the grocery store alone - leaving her with my dp or gramma. Short date nights - two hours? - with gramma babysitting at our house at three months old. My sister would babysit for us starting around one or two? My brother took her to the zoo when she was two or three - hour round trip from our house and he has never had kids. Still the funniest story ever told. Very highly recommended high school babysitter at four years old. Mommy and me classes, then co-op preschool. Just baby steps throughout their lives.

I can appreciate that some kids handle this better than others. But I think that means you do those steps slower and shorter then I might have - but still do them.

I think it would be petrifying to think that I was unsafe if my mom wasn't within arms reach of me at five. I mean you have to shower, go to the bathroom, go to the dentist and gynocologist, have alone time with your dp, visit people in the hospital, go to weddings and funerals and graduations that ds might not enjoy or be able to sit quietly through. What if you fall and break something and need surgery? What if dp gets a big award at work and wants you to accompany him to the award ceremony?

I just really feel for people in your situation - it must be hard for all involved. I'd start today and go for a walk or to the store without him. I'd have gramma watch him at your house while you and dp go out for dinner. Learning he can be safe without you is such a gift to him.
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#7 of 55 Old 08-20-2010, 05:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think a big part of the problem is already answered in your OP. I think he is sensing YOUR reluctance to be away from him and feeding on that. You are projecting a feeling of fear and trauma at separation so he is responding in the same way. If you can show him that there is nothing to be scared of and that you will be fine during your separation then he will probably feel more confident.
Well, that's why we tried sending him with DH. I just acted normally while getting him ready to go. I wasn't feeling anxious about it, we just did our typical morning routine. But right before it was time to go, ds got very upset, ran to the bedroom and seated himself in a chair, refusing to leave. I will have no choice but to take him myself on Monday, since he wouldn't even leave the house with DH. I was with him at school for two days and DS had no issue getting enthusiastic about everything. He just refuses to separate.

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#8 of 55 Old 08-20-2010, 05:44 PM
 
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DD1 wasn't so keen on separating at that age, she had major anxiety issues, still does but to a lesser degree now. She had been capable of separating starting at 3.5y, she had rarely been away prior to that, she would go to dance and gymnastics by her self. At age 5.5, she experienced a major traumatic event which lead into an anxiety disorder. It took a year of therapy, and working up to her being left again, she did not go to school during that time. She did go last year to 1st grade which was her first experience at school, she did fine. She has no issues once again separating during the day, at night is a whole other story.

Not all kids have issues separating, and while it could be a normal developmental phase during certain stages, prolonged refusal to separate like what you are describing is not normal. It doesn't mean that something is "wrong" with him but that he may need more help in learning how to separate. And I do say this with great kindness and a understanding of children that need more.

It sounds like the teacher is wonderful, and really willing to work with you! Working up to him being left probably should of been started prior to K, but hindsight is always 20/20, eh. I have certainly made my fair share of mistakes while navigating through uncharted waters. I'll put it this way, for a child that has never been left, it would be more surprising if he just waved at the door and yelled, "see ya later mom!". This is all so very new to him, maybe the teacher's plan will work and he will start being ok with being left or maybe you will need to pull him out and start working on separating so that you can try again next year. Only time will tell on that. Good luck!

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#9 of 55 Old 08-20-2010, 06:20 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heavenly View Post
I think a big part of the problem is already answered in your OP. I think he is sensing YOUR reluctance to be away from him and feeding on that. You are projecting a feeling of fear and trauma at separation so he is responding in the same way. If you can show him that there is nothing to be scared of and that you will be fine during your separation then he will probably feel more confident.
I totally agree with this. I am sure if you are as upset as you described he can totally sense it, I know that my ds can read me like a book.

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Well, that's why we tried sending him with DH. I just acted normally while getting him ready to go. I wasn't feeling anxious about it, we just did our typical morning routine. But right before it was time to go, ds got very upset, ran to the bedroom and seated himself in a chair, refusing to leave. I will have no choice but to take him myself on Monday, since he wouldn't even leave the house with DH. I was with him at school for two days and DS had no issue getting enthusiastic about everything. He just refuses to separate.
It sounds like though there was a lot of tension with your DH and there is a lot of tension surrounding the entire Kindergarten issue and your son is feeding off of that. I would be matter of fact about it, this is just what he does now, he goes to Kindergarten, like daddy goes to work. I would not sit in his classroom any more. When you drop him off make sure your mindset is calm and not upset at all and don't let yourself get there. Unfortunately he is going to cry, but his teacher will comfort him, I think her idea of bringing him 10 minutes early is great. You probably should make drop off quick. This is not the same as CIO, before someone starts saying it is, he will be left in the arms of a caring adult that his mother is entrusting to care for him. Good luck. He will be fine.
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#10 of 55 Old 08-20-2010, 06:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I give you credit for putting your own anxiety aside and letting him grow through this transition to school. I do think kids can sense our anxiety (like dogs sense fear) so I would do everything you can to truly focus on all the many positives in this situation.

I disagree that "all kids are like that" but I do think that letting him skip all parts of early childhood that ease you into kindergarten (like preschool, babysitters on date nights that you and your dp take, etc) did none of you any favors for this transition. If he has used fussing/crying/screaming to get you back next to him (the Disneyland example you gave) over and over, and it has always worked - well, I'm betting he will keep it up until it doesn't. Wouldn't you? He has an effective system going here. But honestly, it isn't good for him or you or baby on the way.

Should mom and dad be primary trusted and loved people in a child's life - definitely in an ideal world. But finding out that he is safe with gramma, auntie, your best friend with a child his age, experienced babysitter, preschool teacher, etc - well, that is good too.

I was a SAHM for a decade for my three kids. But starting when dd1 was two weeks old, I would make a quick trip to the grocery store alone - leaving her with my dp or gramma. Short date nights - two hours? - with gramma babysitting at our house at three months old. My sister would babysit for us starting around one or two? My brother took her to the zoo when she was two or three - hour round trip from our house and he has never had kids. Still the funniest story ever told. Very highly recommended high school babysitter at four years old. Mommy and me classes, then co-op preschool. Just baby steps throughout their lives.

I can appreciate that some kids handle this better than others. But I think that means you do those steps slower and shorter then I might have - but still do them.

I think it would be petrifying to think that I was unsafe if my mom wasn't within arms reach of me at five. I mean you have to shower, go to the bathroom, go to the dentist and gynocologist, have alone time with your dp, visit people in the hospital, go to weddings and funerals and graduations that ds might not enjoy or be able to sit quietly through. What if you fall and break something and need surgery? What if dp gets a big award at work and wants you to accompany him to the award ceremony?

I just really feel for people in your situation - it must be hard for all involved. I'd start today and go for a walk or to the store without him. I'd have gramma watch him at your house while you and dp go out for dinner. Learning he can be safe without you is such a gift to him.
Thank you for that kind reply. A big part of the problem for us has always been that we have no family around. We are very isolated. We also can't afford to pay a babysitter every week to go on a date night. It's been a continual problem for DH and I and now it's coming to a head. I'm also not always the best mother because I feel so incredibly stuck, with no options at all to "free myself" from a constantly clinging 5 year old who is always demanding that I play with him or keep him entertained in some way. I just get so angry with him for being like this and I can't have him climbing all over me anymore. Kindy is basically our only option, since it's practically free.
He's fine with staying with DH while I go to appointments, etc, but never wants to be without both of us at once. Even though his grandma lives on the other side of the country, he has seen her many times and talks to her on the phone a lot, so he is comfortable with her. DH and I went out to a movie while she was recently visiting and DS cried most of the time and just sat out in front of our door, waiting for us to get home. Ugh. I'm so sick of this. DH insists that this new baby get used to babysitters and preschool from an early age. I am praying that baby is nothing like his big brother in this respect.

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#11 of 55 Old 08-20-2010, 06:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It sounds like though there was a lot of tension with your DH and there is a lot of tension surrounding the entire Kindergarten issue and your son is feeding off of that. I would be matter of fact about it, this is just what he does now, he goes to Kindergarten, like daddy goes to work. I would not sit in his classroom any more. When you drop him off make sure your mindset is calm and not upset at all and don't let yourself get there. Unfortunately he is going to cry, but his teacher will comfort him, I think her idea of bringing him 10 minutes early is great. You probably should make drop off quick. This is not the same as CIO, before someone starts saying it is, he will be left in the arms of a caring adult that his mother is entrusting to care for him. Good luck. He will be fine.
Thanks for this advice. I will try it on Monday. I think that both DH and I should be there to support each other and make sure neither of us gets upset.

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#12 of 55 Old 08-20-2010, 07:16 PM
 
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If you don't want to send him, don't. I don't know if you baby him too much. I have seen older kids get babied too much, but I am not sure it is possible really to baby a 5 yr old too much, unless you spoon feed him or never give him a chore of any sort.

I think you should make the decision, not your dh. You know him best. ((hugs))
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#13 of 55 Old 08-20-2010, 07:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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If you don't want to send him, don't. I don't know if you baby him too much. I have seen older kids get babied too much, but I am not sure it is possible really to baby a 5 yr old too much, unless you spoon feed him or never give him a chore of any sort.

I think you should make the decision, not your dh. You know him best. ((hugs))
Oh, I want him to go. I was upset at first because it was such a big change for both of us and I think I had the typical first-time kindergarten mom anxiety, plus all of my worries about his neediness. He is a high needs child and needs way, way more stimulation than I can provide him in our apartment during the day. He also really, really drives me nuts with his clinginess and it will be extremely difficult to get the baby's needs met during the day with DS around. So yes, I want and need him to go, but not if it's going to traumatize him and he's truly not ready.

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#14 of 55 Old 08-20-2010, 09:17 PM
 
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Oh, I want him to go. I was upset at first because it was such a big change for both of us and I think I had the typical first-time kindergarten mom anxiety, plus all of my worries about his neediness. He is a high needs child and needs way, way more stimulation than I can provide him in our apartment during the day. He also really, really drives me nuts with his clinginess and it will be extremely difficult to get the baby's needs met during the day with DS around. So yes, I want and need him to go, but not if it's going to traumatize him and he's truly not ready.
If he does well with socialization when he is in the class I don't think its going to traumatize him. I think that the first couple of days may be very difficult, but if the teacher is willing to work with you, and it sounds like she is, I think you are just going to have to work through it. Once he gets the routine down, makes some friends, and lets himself enjoy the socialization and his day instead of being consumed with you not being there I think he will be fine. He will start enjoying himself and his days will start going by quickly and he will see that you are coming to get him every day at the same time, like clockwork. At five I think talking to him and explaining to him over the weekend that he is going to school, this is his thing to do, as I said in my other post; daddy goes to work, mommy does all the work at home, and ds goes to school. Does that make sense? I know that my five year old would benefit with conversations beforehand about things. Even make a schedule maybe for the day. I don't know if these things would work or not, just throwing out suggestions. I can understand that it must be very difficult for you all but you will get through it. (((hugs)))
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Ok, I really appreciate all the advice, and I have another question. I sent an email to his teacher with this but haven't heard back yet. This morning when DS refused to go to school, he was having a tantrum, grabbing on to furniture, and flinging himself around when DH went to pick him up. I do not expect any improvements on Monday. When he acts like that again, should we just calmly pick him up, restrain him, and carry him downstairs to the car? No amount of calming him down and talking to him worked this morning. It I wasn't going to be in the class with him, he refused to ever go there again. Should we drag him to the car?

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#16 of 55 Old 08-20-2010, 09:45 PM
 
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Since he is a young 5, would it work to delay enrollment in the great charter school and put him in a really great preschool for this year, then begin firmly working on having him accept that you will be leaving? At a preschool, if you choose the right one, there will be more acceptance of you being there at first, then leaving after a bit when he gets involved in the activities of the day. The thing is, I think you'll have to be quite conscious about spending less and less time at the preschool each time and making it clear that he is a growing boy who can truly handle this just fine. Have you tried reading a book like The Kissing Hand, about being together even when you are apart from one another? (comforting for mom and child)

 
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#17 of 55 Old 08-20-2010, 09:55 PM
 
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When he acts like that again, should we just calmly pick him up, restrain him, and carry him downstairs to the car? No amount of calming him down and talking to him worked this morning. It I wasn't going to be in the class with him, he refused to ever go there again. Should we drag him to the car?
It depends what your goals are, I guess. True independence cannot be forced. It just doesn't work this way. He really needs you right now, and it not ready to separate. You can separate him forcefully and drag him to the car, but what you are going to gain is not independence, but detachment and helplessness at best, and anger at worst. He's not being heard, not at all. How does ignoring your child's need to be with you is fostering independence?

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#18 of 55 Old 08-20-2010, 10:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It depends what your goals are, I guess. True independence cannot be forced. It just doesn't work this way. He really needs you right now, and it not ready to separate. You can separate him forcefully and drag him to the car, but what you are going to gain is not independence, but detachment and helplessness at best, and anger at worst. He's not being heard, not at all. How does ignoring your child's need to be with you is fostering independence?
I have NEVER, not ONCE, EVER ignored my child's need to be with me. Now, when he wants me to be there and I can't is a different story. I believe that DH and I have a right to go out together every once in a while, even if DS has a freak-out over it. Also, I have been listening to DS and his needs pretty much every moment since he was born, thank you very much.

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#19 of 55 Old 08-20-2010, 11:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Since he is a young 5, would it work to delay enrollment in the great charter school and put him in a really great preschool for this year, then begin firmly working on having him accept that you will be leaving? At a preschool, if you choose the right one, there will be more acceptance of you being there at first, then leaving after a bit when he gets involved in the activities of the day. The thing is, I think you'll have to be quite conscious about spending less and less time at the preschool each time and making it clear that he is a growing boy who can truly handle this just fine. Have you tried reading a book like The Kissing Hand, about being together even when you are apart from one another? (comforting for mom and child)
We couldn't afford to put him in any preschool, let alone a really great one. I don't think I'd even find a better teacher or environment than the kindy, anyway. The teacher read the Kissing Hand to the kids on the first day of class. It's a cute book, but my DS is powerfully stubborn and beyond it having no effect on him, it is doubtful that he would even "let" me read it to him. He is very picky about what books he wants to hear.
Thank you very much for the kind reply, though, I do appreciate it

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#20 of 55 Old 08-20-2010, 11:18 PM
 
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He sounds like a really spirited child. I have one of those.

Sorry to suggest something that is unaffordable. I live in a state where good preschools can often be free--there is a lot of public pre-K here--I guess that is not an option for you.

You sound a bit at wit's end with him, though you clearly love him very very dearly. You are really ready for him to be in school. You have given him your heart and soul and all your time for 5+ years.

Would it work to sit down with his teacher and/or guidance counselor to map out a strategy together?

 
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#21 of 55 Old 08-20-2010, 11:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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He sounds like a really spirited child. I have one of those.

Sorry to suggest something that is unaffordable. I live in a state where good preschools can often be free--there is a lot of public pre-K here--I guess that is not an option for you.

You sound a bit at wit's end with him, though you clearly love him very very dearly. You are really ready for him to be in school. You have given him your heart and soul and all your time for 5+ years.

Would it work to sit down with his teacher and/or guidance counselor to map out a strategy together?
Thank you for the kind response. I live in CA, and unfortunately I don't think any preschools are free, unless they are special programs for people on government assistance.

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.

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#22 of 55 Old 08-21-2010, 02:21 AM
 
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Ok, I really appreciate all the advice, and I have another question. I sent an email to his teacher with this but haven't heard back yet. This morning when DS refused to go to school, he was having a tantrum, grabbing on to furniture, and flinging himself around when DH went to pick him up. I do not expect any improvements on Monday. When he acts like that again, should we just calmly pick him up, restrain him, and carry him downstairs to the car? No amount of calming him down and talking to him worked this morning. It I wasn't going to be in the class with him, he refused to ever go there again. Should we drag him to the car?
I don't think forcing him to go when he is like this at home would be good for any of you. I would never force my son and I think you did the right thing by not forcing him when he was that upset. What does he say when you talk to him about it when he is calm? Do you think talking to him over the weekend can get his to a place where you can get him to the school to try it again? I would also do as a pp said and talk to the teacher and a counselor to come up with a transition plan if you can't get him to school to transition on Monday. I would just talk to him and let him know that this is what is going to happen on Monday. You are going to take him and you will stay for a minute or two and then you will be leaving. Let him know that he will have some special time with the teacher before the other students get there and then the school day will start. Unfortunately I think you will be leaving a crying child for a few days. This sounds really tough, I'm sorry you are dealing with it and I understand your frustration.
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#23 of 55 Old 08-21-2010, 03:51 AM
 
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I admit, I skimmed a bit b/c it's late, so if I'm repeating I'm sorry.

My advice: Take it slowly.

I would keep going to school with him for a while longer. 2 days of being in class with him, then just suddenly expecting him to be OK with dad dropping him off is a huge leap. It's OK if this process takes a few weeks (I believe you said the teacher was flexible.) It took me an entire month to be able to leave DS at his preschool.

This is how it went: First DS saw the room when we toured the school. Then when I took him to the first few days of school, I stood at the door of the room with him and encouraged him to go in and we watched all the fun. After a couple of days he was able to go in to the class room without me, for a few minutes as long as he was clutching his stuffed bunny, Mr Rabbit. After a while he would stay in the room for most of the session (it was a halfday) and would only come out to me if something scared him. DS even went out to recess while I stayed sitting in the hall. Soon Mr Rabbit was spending most of his time in DS's backpack.

I then moved to a location that was in another part of the building. The first day of this didn't work well, so I took DS home early. The next day though I was clearer about where I would be, and it went fine. After a week of that, I left for 20 minutes to run errands while DS stayed at school.

Sooner than you knew it that was that. It took a month and had a few minor ups and downs along the way (no temper tantrums though,) but finally I could just drop him off and it was fine.

In your situation, since you've been going with him into the classroom, I would start by going just outside the door for just a minute here and there, tell him exactly where you are going and how long you'll be. Then stay outside the classroom doing something for a longer period. Then find something you "need" to do in the office or some place still in the school, but not immediately available to him. When he is comfortable with that, start running errands. Always make sure he knows you are leaving and don't try sneaking out when he is involved in something, this will just cause anxiety and make it harder to separate in the future.

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#24 of 55 Old 08-21-2010, 08:03 AM
 
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. I just need to figure a way to get him out the freaking door and on the school campus.
For what it's worth, I know of another situation in which it worked better to have the child just take the school bus in the morning. Riding the bus was so exciting that she lost track of the separation thing because it wasn't in her face.

 
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#25 of 55 Old 08-21-2010, 11:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't think forcing him to go when he is like this at home would be good for any of you. I would never force my son and I think you did the right thing by not forcing him when he was that upset. What does he say when you talk to him about it when he is calm? Do you think talking to him over the weekend can get his to a place where you can get him to the school to try it again? I would also do as a pp said and talk to the teacher and a counselor to come up with a transition plan if you can't get him to school to transition on Monday. I would just talk to him and let him know that this is what is going to happen on Monday. You are going to take him and you will stay for a minute or two and then you will be leaving. Let him know that he will have some special time with the teacher before the other students get there and then the school day will start. Unfortunately I think you will be leaving a crying child for a few days. This sounds really tough, I'm sorry you are dealing with it and I understand your frustration.
Yes, DH and I decided that forcing DS out the door would not be a great idea. I will talk to DS this weekend while he is calm, but the problem is that even if he agrees to go, he will likely change his mind right before we go out the door. He has done this every single time regarding school. On the first and second day of school, he emphatically told me that he was ready to do school by himself. So I tried to sit right outside the door on the second day, and he had a major freakout. I tried it in the morning and in the afternoon. I ended up back in the classroom. I think it's very unlikely he will leave for school unless I promise that I will be in the classroom with him.
Oh, yes, DH and I are both terribly frustrated and upset over this. For years we've felt like he's just never going to get better in this area. He's such a great kid otherwise, and life would be totally joyful and a breeze with him if we could just get him over this hurdle.

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I admit, I skimmed a bit b/c it's late, so if I'm repeating I'm sorry.

My advice: Take it slowly.

I would keep going to school with him for a while longer. 2 days of being in class with him, then just suddenly expecting him to be OK with dad dropping him off is a huge leap. It's OK if this process takes a few weeks (I believe you said the teacher was flexible.) It took me an entire month to be able to leave DS at his preschool.

This is how it went: First DS saw the room when we toured the school. Then when I took him to the first few days of school, I stood at the door of the room with him and encouraged him to go in and we watched all the fun. After a couple of days he was able to go in to the class room without me, for a few minutes as long as he was clutching his stuffed bunny, Mr Rabbit. After a while he would stay in the room for most of the session (it was a halfday) and would only come out to me if something scared him. DS even went out to recess while I stayed sitting in the hall. Soon Mr Rabbit was spending most of his time in DS's backpack.

I then moved to a location that was in another part of the building. The first day of this didn't work well, so I took DS home early. The next day though I was clearer about where I would be, and it went fine. After a week of that, I left for 20 minutes to run errands while DS stayed at school.

Sooner than you knew it that was that. It took a month and had a few minor ups and downs along the way (no temper tantrums though,) but finally I could just drop him off and it was fine.

In your situation, since you've been going with him into the classroom, I would start by going just outside the door for just a minute here and there, tell him exactly where you are going and how long you'll be. Then stay outside the classroom doing something for a longer period. Then find something you "need" to do in the office or some place still in the school, but not immediately available to him. When he is comfortable with that, start running errands. Always make sure he knows you are leaving and don't try sneaking out when he is involved in something, this will just cause anxiety and make it harder to separate in the future.
I'm guessing that our process may go like yours did. After being in the class for a while, try to run errands, etc. Two days of being in the class probably was too soon to leave, but like almost all parents, I felt pressure from the teacher to go, not to mention that I have to sit on a hard and tiny wooden chair for hours that kills me. The teacher really thinks that if we just drop him off, he will shed a few tears and go on with the day. I have tons of experience with this kid. He is not going to do that. He will become extremely upset, and if he ever does calm down, he will disrupt the entire class by constantly running to the door and asking when I will be coming back. There is supposed to be a parent teacher's assistant in the class every day, so I think that would be a good alternative. I could just do that for a while and hopefully he will eventually adjust.

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#26 of 55 Old 08-22-2010, 11:25 AM
 
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Eepster's right on.

I went through this with my dd1 (now going in 4th grade and separating fine). She was very much like your ds. And no, not all kids are like this at all. This is the extreme end of the spectrum. At the other end of the spectrum there are kids who would be happy to go off with anyone and who try to run away at the park as toddlers.

Most people don't understand severe separation anxiety. There is another kind of separation anxiety which is not as severe where the kid really will be okay in a few if mom and dad leave. They might cry for 2 or 3 or maybe even 5 minutes and then they kinda realize everyone else is having fun so they might as well make the best of the situation and find something fun to do, too. This is the kind that teachers are more familiar with and why they say things like, "just go on and go and he'll be fine". My dd2 was more like this, but did have a few moments of more severe sep anxiety, too.

Full blown really severe separation anxiety is a different kettle of fish. First, you've got to understand about anxiety. The best way to deal with anxiety is the baby steps/toe-in-the-water approach. If you just throw 'em in the water (aka classroom) to sink or swim they're going to be traumatized and consequently more anxious about it. If you let them completely avoid it you're reinforcing their fear of water (aka the classroom), that it's a terrible thing and must be avoided at all costs. The best approach is just to stick a toe in water, or sit on the edge, until they work up enough courage to put their whole foot in the water, etc. It can be a very long process, but if your child is truly, truly anxious this is the best approach.

The trick is with school, teachers don't often recognize this level of separation anxiety and since they have had some success with the other kind where leaving does make it better and long goodbyes make it worse they often will push you to leave saying they've dealt with separation anxiety for 30 years and they can handle it. Well, y'know, my dd1's preschool teacher said she had never seen a kid like her in her 20+ years of teaching!

So, I don't know about the issue forcing him to go in the morning. If you let him stay home you're reinforcing avoidant behavior (you might google +anxiety +"school refusal"). I don't like "forcing" though. That's sort of the throwing him in the pool to sink or swim. I would try to talk to him about it beforehand and reach an agreement even if it's for you to stay in the classroom. That's better than staying home. I would do everything I possibly could to get him to the school and not give in to the school refusal and self-reinforcing avoidant behavior.

Best of luck! Follow eepsters plan!! Tell him you have to go to the bathroom and then stay for 10 or 15 minutes. Always come back. Work up to longer and longer times. Tell the teacher he has an anxiety disorder (she doesn't need to know it's undiagnosed by a professional) to see if she'll cut you some slack.

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#27 of 55 Old 08-22-2010, 12:52 PM
 
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I'm with eepster...

You are so lucky the teacher is willing to work with you. Go with that for a while and slowly ease him into the transition.

I like the bus idea too, Ds would love to ride the bus!

And Mama, go easy on yourself. My ds did go to preschool at age 4, but otherwise we did not "prepare" him for separation by starting to leave him earlier. We have no family around and we were not ready to hire babysitters until he was 3 or 4 and very verbal. We also don't have the means to hire one more than every few months or so. While I don't think your son's behavior is 'typical', it is what it is right now and you'll get through it. Don't start thinking it's your fault.
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#28 of 55 Old 08-22-2010, 01:49 PM
 
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Ok, I really appreciate all the advice, and I have another question. I sent an email to his teacher with this but haven't heard back yet. This morning when DS refused to go to school, he was having a tantrum, grabbing on to furniture, and flinging himself around when DH went to pick him up. I do not expect any improvements on Monday. When he acts like that again, should we just calmly pick him up, restrain him, and carry him downstairs to the car? No amount of calming him down and talking to him worked this morning. It I wasn't going to be in the class with him, he refused to ever go there again. Should we drag him to the car?
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!
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#29 of 55 Old 08-22-2010, 02:14 PM
 
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How does her react if you leave him with DH at home or with another family member / baby sitter?

Our ODD has had this same issue but ONLY with a school setting. At age 4 we tried preschool and it lasted one month. She would go mostly fine ( at first ) but then have a huge melt down at home. The rage and words she said to us ( I hate you etc) was something we had never seen/heard from her. We then tried a homeschool coop to ease in ( because like you we are unable to afford preschool or commit for fear of loosing that income for nothing.). same thing. the next year ( age 5) tried HS coop again. Same reaction and really worse.

We can leave her with her friends , she can go to events , stay with family at their home or ours. But a structured school environment..NO.

We tried enrolling with the public school and had other cultural issues and I just decided to skip the next issue and put her in a online charter school. Maybe next year we might try away from home school

I want her to love learning and be the happy little girl I know.

In your case Id try next year. See if you can find a homeschool teen to come over to give you a break and work on the leaving slowly but really this step is up to you. Most parents that homeschool don't start by choice but feel their kid needs something different.
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#30 of 55 Old 08-22-2010, 02:52 PM
 
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I think it sounds like a great school for him, and I think you're doing the right thing by having him go. I really don't think it would be beneficial for any of you to keep him home another year.

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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.
ITA with this.
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