Separation Anxiety on day 4!! Help! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 08-26-2010, 11:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hey Mamas,
Need some help here. We are a former homeschooling family of three kids (7th, 3rd, and 1st grade), going the private school route this year.

My 1st grade daughter *really* wanted to go to school this year, and was so excited to start. The first 3 days went great, but yesterday after school she said "I started missing you today mommy". We talked a little, I tried to "connect" with her a bit more last night, etc. Today she got up got dressed, and all that, she was even fine on the drive there, but when we got to the playground, she started getting really upset, and eventually crying/clinging.

Her teacher said we should walk her to the door, do goodbye's again, and then leave. We did so, but her teacher had to hang on to her. I felt terrible!

She really isn't typically a clingy kid. She will often tell me "I can do it myself", and at her last eye exam, told me to sit in the waiting room, lol. However, she is a VERY sensitive child, and will tend to "hold on to hurts".

I'm not sure what to do. I plan on talking to the teacher today, and seeing what she thinks. *I* personally don't have a problem going and sitting in class with her, BUT I can see how that could be disruptive to the class, and also giving my daughter the impression that I can always do that. I don't want to just delay the inevitable.

It's just weird, because it didn't start the first day. I guess the "new" has worn off!

Help mamas??!!

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#2 of 12 Old 08-26-2010, 11:45 AM
 
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It is common to have more anxiety after the first few days. The best thing is to assure her she is fine at school and emphasize that the teacher is there for her at school, it is ok to miss mommy. I wouldn't offer to sit in the classroom, not only because of the disruptive angle (which it would be) but because that is setting up expectations that are not realistic. Give it another week or so- most of the time the separation anxiety goes away by then. Just keep reassuring her and keeping the goodbyes brief and upbeat. Try adding an encouraging note in her notebooks and lunch for her to find during the day.
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#3 of 12 Old 08-26-2010, 12:01 PM
 
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My oldest son had a lot of separation anxiety when he started school. He's very sensitive, too. It is so hard to see them upset and anxious, but for my son, I think it was very helpful for him to learn that there are kind, caring adults at school who really are looking out for him when I'm not there. He loves school now.

Two things that really worked for us were kissing hands and worry stones. We read the book "The Kissing Hand" - great book, really reaffirms that a) it is OK to be sad and nervous about leaving mommy and b) mommy's love and thoughts are with you, even when she's not. It has been two years, and he still wants his kissing hand every morning.

For the worry stone, I took a stone necklace pendant I had, and pinned it in his pocket (for your daughter, she could wear it as a necklace). I told him whenever he felt sad during the day, he could rub the stone, and when he did, I'd send a hug his way. After school I'd ask, "Did you rub your stone today?" and when he said yes, I'd say, "I thought so. I was sending those hugs. Did you feel them?" A little deceptive, maybe, but the truth is I was thinking about him and sending hugs in my thoughts! Anyway, he used the stone for about a month before he didn't need it anymore. I think at first, having something physical to touch was important, then later when he was doing better, the kissing hand was enough.

Good luck! I hope her transition goes well. As hard as it is, I think it is true that the more calm, confident and upbeat you are about the separation, the easier it will be for her to let go of the anxiety.
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#4 of 12 Old 08-26-2010, 03:40 PM
 
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You are not alone! My 5 year old DS started K 10 days ago. Yesterday, as the bus pulled up to take him to school he screamed and ran back to the house! He told me later that he didnt' want to go to school because he misses me. He's never been to day care or away from me during the day like this before, and he was doing really well until yesterday. I've never left him crying anywhere since he was born, and I still consider myself an AP parent even though the kids are older, so leaving him upset *kills* me.
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#5 of 12 Old 10-05-2010, 03:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Things got a little better, then she had another really bad day where we had to hand her off/pry her off crying and clinging. Again, I just *never* do that, so it's been hard.

She's been in school for about 6 weeks now. It is better in the sense that she will technically go, but I think only because she knows we will "hand her off" if she clings.

Nearly every day she tells me she hates school, and wants to stay home with me, because she misses me. No amount of reminding her of all the fun things at school or her friends works at all. She says "I don't care about any of that I only want to be with you", and cry's *every time* we talk about school.

She has been home sick for the last week with a bad flu. The whole week she cried at the thought of going back to school, and says she wishes she could just stay sick, so she could stay home.

She is a super sensitive kid, and I feel like she's expressing some really strong needs. Is it really worth it to keep pushing her? It just seems 6 weeks is a long time for this...

I planned all summer to send my two older kids to school, as that is what they needed this year instead of homeschooling, but I sent her because she wanted to go. I would have been fine keeping her home.

I just don't know if I should keep forcing her to go, and keep hoping she will change and begin to enjoy it, or if I should just go ahead and let her homeschool this year.
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#6 of 12 Old 10-05-2010, 03:42 PM
 
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how is she at school after you leave?

Was she fine until she got sick & then she didn't want to go again?
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#7 of 12 Old 10-05-2010, 03:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The teacher says she does ok while there.

No, she hasn't wanted to go since about day 4.

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#8 of 12 Old 10-05-2010, 03:55 PM
 
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Have you talked to the teacher recently about what is going on at school?

I'd look for other causes besides separation -- how is she doing with the work, with the other kids, the amount of writing, the way discipline is handled (with other kids as well as herself), the adults (not just main teacher, but all the staff and volunteers) etc.

My kids homeschooled when they were young and started school older, and I see some real advantages of that, but I'd want to make sure I really understood the whole big picture before pulling her out.

Can you have lunch with her one day or volunteer at the school? My kids like it when I show up at school.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#9 of 12 Old 10-05-2010, 04:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think she'll be well enough to go back tomorrow, so I will talk to her teacher today when I pick up my other two from school.

She hasn't mentioned any trouble with the school work, but she does say "she has no friends", though I'm not sure if that's true. She's a very outgoing kid, and I can't imagine she has no one to play with...

I'm afraid if I went to have lunch with her, that it would make it worse. I could volunteer for playground duty, but I don't think this school has parents volunteer in the classroom.
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#10 of 12 Old 10-05-2010, 04:56 PM
 
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I'd ask about classroom volunteering. Or even if there are some tasks you could take on outside of the classroom that would be used inside the classroom.

I made a job chart one day, for example. I've never been in the classroom with dd (other than the opening circle time) because during the time I can volunteer she's with another teacher. But she liked knowing that I made the job chart for her teacher to use in class.

Dd1's teacher also supplies "questions" for the parents around the middle of the week. As in things to ask the kids to elicit actual information about the day.

You know, if she's complaining about not having friends, playground volunteering could be a good way to see what's happening. In dd1's first days in kindergarten, it seemed to me that the biggest adjustments were happening on the playground and not in the classroom. I watch dd play before school almost every day and there's been a noticeable change in how she interacts with the other kids. In the beginning, there were one or two occasions where I needed to talk to her later about how she could handle certain kinds of things--kids not taking turns, bigger kids telling her she "wasn't in the right place," ....stuff like that.

Mom of two girls.
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#11 of 12 Old 10-05-2010, 05:01 PM
 
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If this is really just anxiety (it sounds likely) I would not let her give in to it. Learning to give up when something is uncomfortable/scary means that she won't get to develop the skills to try new and exciting things in the future.

View this as an opportunity for her to learn anxiety management skills. A 1st grader should be old enough to discuss strategies to for managing anxiety, so ask her to come up with some ideas of her own. Definitely view this as a lesson she needs to learn and not simply a glitch to be fixed. Take it slowly and gently.

Remember, that not everyone learns something the same way. Just as some kids learn reading best through phonics and others do better with sight reading, there is no one size fits all answer. Of course, just as with reading, some schools try to push a one size fits all solution to this issue. They have already tried their solution, and it isn't working for your DD, so now it is time for them let you try something new.

Possible strategies include: Letting her have a security item. finding a place where you can be on campus and she can come to you if needed. Giving her access to a phone a couple of times a day, so she can check in with you.

What ever your ultimate strategy is, you will need to have a meeting ASAP to discuss it with the teachers.

Timmy's Mommy WARNINGyslexic typing with help of preschooler, beware of typos
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#12 of 12 Old 10-05-2010, 06:39 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lovelee View Post
she does say "she has no friends", though I'm not sure if that's true. She's a very outgoing kid, and I can't imagine she has no one to play with...
it must feel true to her.

Is it possible that a lot of the kids know each other from last year or go to the same church or something?

I'd talk to the teacher about possible kids to invite for playdates, and I'd also check and see if there is a girl scout troop or something like that.

For me, this wouldn't be a reason to pull the child from school, but I'd want to try to work through it.

I volunteer as a playground monitor and it's a GREAT way to get to know the kids.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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