Torn about DD's schooling - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 09-20-2011, 11:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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DD is six, and in first grade. She had a great time in kindergarten and seemed to love school. Towards the end of the schoolyear last year, she began showing separation anxiety. She did not want to leave me, and started having stomach aches and nightmares.

 

During the summer, the separation anxiety continued. She would not go to play at friends' houses that she used to play at easily, she did not want to stay with her father when I needed to go to a meeting or to work, she cried and clinged to me.

 

She hated herself for not being able to choose to be away from me. She missed playdates that she would have enjoyed, she missed parties and fun things. Its heartbreaking to watch her know that she is missing out on things she would love to do - she looks so sad.

 

We tried to rule out physical causes or traumatic events for the separation anxiety, stomach aches, and nightmares, but there really doesn't seem to be anything there. She went to counseling for anxiety. We only had four sessions but the therapist felt she was behaving normally for her age, plus DD didn't really want to engage with the therapist on working on alleviating anxiety, so right now its at "call me if she's not doing well."

 

Which brings me to the point of my post. She's been having separation anxiety at school and it seems to be getting worse, not better. On the first day, she was able to ride the bus to school with me following behind in the car, then went to her class just fine. Beginning the second week, she began crying when I dropped her off, and clinging to me, so I started walking her to her classroom and giving her a few minutes to transition. Yesterday she began crying so hard and so soon that I just took her home with me rather than have her escalate in front of her peers and the other students, which would just embarrass her. I called her teacher, whose advice was that the principal would come and physically restrain DD while I left - that didn't feel good to me - so I suggested I would volunteer for an hour in the morning and then maybe DD would feel okay about me leaving. Not great, but okay.

 

While volunteering in the classroom this morning, I noticed that DD doesn't really participate. The other children raise their hands and compete to answer a question or for a turn to talk; DD doesn't even try. The material being presented is stuff she already knows, and I know she hates going over stuff she already knows, but its not that far behind her that she couldn't have some fun showing off her knowledge or engaging with the teacher. I don't understand why she is not more involved. She is extremely social, loves attention, loves interaction with others, says she likes school... but during the hour I was there today, I didn't see any of that and its bothering me. I can't tell if she is bored or depressed or anxious or what. Or just having an off day. I left her crying today. I ignored the advice of the aide to just walk out when she wasn't looking and instead let her know that I was leaving and I'd see her in a few hours at the bus stop, which resulted in tears but I left even though.

 

The whole thing doesn't feel right. I don't believe in leaving her against her will. I believe she is telling me she is not ready for that level of independence and I want to honor that, but on the other hand, she has a very intelligent brain and our attempts at homeschooling did not go well (she is difficult to engage in any academic activities, even though she learns quickly, and she is bored and restless at home). I have to work otherwise I might try to find a homeschool coop or something that works better. I'm sad that she is not engaging with the academic material at school - I know she knows most of it, but not even with the new stuff - and I know she loves the socialization aspects, lunch with her friends and recess and P.E. and music.

 

I don't know what to do. I don't know if I should just leave her crying at school as the teachers want me to do, I don't know if I should try to homeschool her, I don't know how to engage her mind or encourage a love of learning, I just don't know what to do.

 

Any thoughts?

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#2 of 7 Old 09-20-2011, 03:10 PM
 
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I wouldn't base what you think she is or isn't doing in the classroom on her behavior while you are there.  Kids, especially those who are having some trouble, DO behave differently when you're there.  Your presence might have been comforting in some ways, but she also isn't a dumb kid and knows that it is temporary.  If that was on my mind, I wouldn't be able to engage with anything or participate either--and I'm 37!

 

Other than drop off, have her teachers said she hasn't been engaging?  Or you basing this totally on your observation one time when there is a lot of tension going on around this, both on her part and yours?

 

Perhaps drop off could take place in a private area (principal's office, nurse's office, counselor's office) away from the sight of other kids so that she'd have some time to compose herself.  Does she like having responsibilities?  Maybe if you come early, she could be the office runner after dropoff with the principal or whoever for a few minutes before the bell rings (delivering things to teachers, helping sort mail, ect.) (or help the nurse get things ready, ect) and then could be escorted (and later walk down herself) to her classroom?

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#3 of 7 Old 09-20-2011, 03:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Her teacher says she engages and is an active participant. I am just basing this on this one observation of today, but I'll be volunteering every day so will get a better picture. She is hard to notice, though. She cries silently, she doesn't protest, she follows the rules, she's one of those children easily overlooked in the classroom because when you glance at her, she seems just fine. Obedient. Polite. Agreeable.

 

I think we've tried every trick in the book for getting her to engage in an activity with the hope that it will help her transition more smoothly. I think she's gotten sensitive to these tricks and can spot them a mile off, unfortunately. We were even at the bounce house (one of those places where they have all the big inflatable slides and things), her favorite place in the world, and she sadly walked away from all that when I said I was just running up to the grocery store and would be right back, in order to be with me.

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#4 of 7 Old 09-20-2011, 05:49 PM
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by BellinghamCrunchie View Post

 

During the summer, the separation anxiety continued. She would not go to play at friends' houses that she used to play at easily, she did not want to stay with her father when I needed to go to a meeting or to work, she cried and clinged to me.

 

She hated herself for not being able to choose to be away from me. She missed playdates that she would have enjoyed, she missed parties and fun things. Its heartbreaking to watch her know that she is missing out on things she would love to do - she looks so sad.


This isn't just a school problem, it isn't normal, and your DD needs a new therapist.  I'd schedule a meeting with the teacher without your DD there ASAP and talk about what you saw over the summer and that sometimes when you DD withdraws, it is extremely subtle and could be missed if she doesn't know what to look for.

 

Does your school have a counselor or social worker?

 

If this were JUST a school problem, my answer would be different. But this is an anxiety problem. You could withdraw her from school and it wouldn't fix the problem -- it would just move the problem to a different location.

 

 


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#5 of 7 Old 09-20-2011, 07:21 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post




This isn't just a school problem, it isn't normal, and your DD needs a new therapist.  I'd schedule a meeting with the teacher without your DD there ASAP and talk about what you saw over the summer and that sometimes when you DD withdraws, it is extremely subtle and could be missed if she doesn't know what to look for.

 

Does your school have a counselor or social worker?

 

If this were JUST a school problem, my answer would be different. But this is an anxiety problem. You could withdraw her from school and it wouldn't fix the problem -- it would just move the problem to a different location.

 

 


I agree with every word. My DD1 developed anxiety issues when she was 5.5, came on suddenly, and took years to work through some of it. She is 8, almost 9 now and life is so much better now that we know the triggers, how to handle her, etc...  Find another therapist, we went through several before we found the right fit. If she is withdrawing at the level you are describing, it is not normal in my eyes either. 

 

 

Every child is different, but when DD1 was at her peak of anxiety, schooling was not an option, she just could not of functioned there. She is happily in 3rd grade now at a private school. She still has anxiety issues but NOTHING like it used to be. She was more independent at age 4 then she was even at 6 because of the anxiety issues. It was heartbreaking to watch her be unable to enjoy being a child and even play freely without worry. 

 


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#6 of 7 Old 09-20-2011, 08:46 PM
 
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I agree that this sounds more like an overall anxiety problem than a school problem. School is demonstrating that it's something pretty big, but the fact that she wouldn't go to friends' houses or stay at the inflatable jumping place sounds like it's a problem in all areas of her life.

 

Could she be having social anxiety? Even outgoing, lively kids can get struck by this.

 

In addition to a new therapist, I'd also try "Freeing Your Child from Anxiety" by Tamar Chansky. I've got an anxiety disorder and frankly, some times, it's really really hard. If you can find a way to work through this early, you'll be doing her a great favor.


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#7 of 7 Old 09-23-2011, 09:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post

I agree that this sounds more like an overall anxiety problem than a school problem. School is demonstrating that it's something pretty big, but the fact that she wouldn't go to friends' houses or stay at the inflatable jumping place sounds like it's a problem in all areas of her life.

 

Could she be having social anxiety? Even outgoing, lively kids can get struck by this.

 

In addition to a new therapist, I'd also try "Freeing Your Child from Anxiety" by Tamar Chansky. I've got an anxiety disorder and frankly, some times, it's really really hard. If you can find a way to work through this early, you'll be doing her a great favor.



Thanks, LynnS6. I agree that it is not about school so much as school is bringing it out more. Anxiety runs in her biological family (my side) and I had severe separation anxiety when I was a child. I would really like to help her deal with anxiety early on, rather than have it severely affect her adult life as well. I'll check out the book - thanks for the recommendation.

 

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