4th day of Kindergarten: My daughter is clinging and crying :( Anyone else going through this? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 08-23-2012, 12:53 PM - Thread Starter
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I have 5 year old twins (will be 6 in October).  They started kindergarten on Monday and are in the same class.  The first two days were wonderful - they each enjoyed their experience and made friends immediately.  Yesterday, one of my daughters said she cried at school when she saw me walking back to my car.  Today, when I walked the girls to class, the same daughter didn't want me to go.  She started crying and telling me she wanted to go home and gave me all kinds of ideas of what she could do at home.  I wound up staying there with her for an hour (at the teacher's invitation).  But when I finally did decide to leave, the teacher had to hold her and she was crying a vehemently saying that she wanted to go home.  I felt terrible. Previously, I have home schooled my children, but it seemed like a good decision to have our twins go to kindergarten and I also need to work from home in the mornings to bring in some income.  (My husband is in construction and work is sparse.)  Anyway, has anyone else been going through this (or have you previously?), and, if so, what are you doing about it?  Thanks!

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#2 of 9 Old 08-23-2012, 01:09 PM
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I haven't had the issue with my own kids but I taught preschool for several years. This is a new experience and even kids who have been going to daycare for years, can go through separation anxiety at times. I recommend sending your DD to school with a picture of you and DH. It's to stay at school, she can pull it out of her cubby when she feels she needs it. In the beginning, the kids cling to the pictures. Eventually, they start forgetting to grab the picture from activity to activity. Before long, they don't even pull in it out anymore and no longer scream when mom leaves. It's not a for sure fix for all kids but it's an option that I've seen help many going through this.

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#3 of 9 Old 08-23-2012, 01:22 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you.  I like that idea. :)

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#4 of 9 Old 08-23-2012, 01:38 PM
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Honestly that sounds exactly like my oldest child's first week in kindergarten. He had been to a home daycare basically his whole life, so it wasn't so much about not wanting to separate from me. But it had a lot more to do with simply how overwhelming, stimulating, and exhausting school was (even in comparison to a busy home daycare). We ended up moving his bedtime way earlier. He went to bed almost as soon as my husband and I got home from work. We did that for a week or two then slowly moved his bedtime later once he adjusted to how simply exhausting school was.


With my second we started out with a ridiculously early bedtime and then moved it back based on our experience with her older brother.


I'd try an earlier bedtime and then perhaps visit with the teacher if things don't improve by mid next week.

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#5 of 9 Old 08-23-2012, 02:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you so much for you suggestions!  That makes sense and I'm going to give it a try.

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#6 of 9 Old 08-23-2012, 08:39 PM
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Also, look up the book The Kissing Hand, which is a picture book that deals with this situation (granted, they're animals!). My BFF's DD went through this in kindy last year and one thing they found was that she needed a very structured drop-off. "Daddy will walk you from the car to the gate. Then one big hug and kiss. Then Ms. W will hold your hand, and you will walk in with her."


Finally, is there any way the teacher can have her be a special helper or give her some other kind of special task as soon as she arrives?


It does pass, but I know it's hard. Honestly, I think you staying there just prolongs the agony. I would agree with the teacher about the drop-off ritual and stick to it. Because now your DD is thinking, "okay, if I throw a big enough fit, momma will stay for a LONG time!" Part of this is making sure your DD knows that YOU think school is good, and that YOU know she'll be great there. Sometimes I think by staying you might inadvertently be sending the message that *you're* not sure if she'll be okay. Hang in there.


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#7 of 9 Old 08-24-2012, 12:24 PM
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I agree that a structured drop off might help. Everyday we do it the same way.


I also like Kissing Hand (starting school) and Chrysanthemum (difficult start to school).

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#8 of 9 Old 08-25-2012, 02:25 PM
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It really depends on the kid. 


Separation anxiety is just anxiety. And dealing with anxiety is like walking a tightrope. You've got to get to the other side, but you've got to go very carefully. 


Obviously you (and the teacher) can see that what works for one child (the happy twin) doesn't work for every child (example A: the unhappy twin). 


As the parent and the teacher, you have to be able to read your anxious dd to figure out what will work best for her. The teacher has experience going for her and can tell you what has worked in other cases, but she doesn't know your daughter as well as you do, so bear that in mind when you get advice from her. Sometimes teachers can be a little pushy with parents. 


The thing about all anxiety, and sep anxiety is no different, is that you can't push too hard or that makes the anxiety worse and you can't avoid the situation or that makes anxiety worse. You have to find a middle ground, which can be hard with school. It sounds like your dd's teacher is willing to work with you, though, so that's great.


My favorite anxiety scenario is a kid who is afraid of the water. If you take that kid to the pool and throw him in the deep end you've likely traumatized him for life. Alternately, if you let him avoid the water completely he will build up a fear of water and be afraid his whole life. You've gotta sit him on the edge of the pool and get him to stick his toes in the water and work up slowly to getting all the way in, putting his head under, learning to swim, etc. But the rate at which you can proceed depends on the individual kid. 


So for some kids and sep anxiety at school the "yank off the band-aid" method really does work well. You drop 'em off. They start to cry. You make a quick exit. They stop crying in 5 minutes or less as soon as you're out of sight. For other kids, that's a complete disaster and you've just thrown them in the deep end and they don't know how to swim.


I had one of those kids. My dd1 had super-duper over-the-top no one had ever seen anything like it sep anxiety. I KNEW I couldn't do the "yank off the band-aid" method with her. Dd1 was so beyond the pale that I don't think we need to go into that here, but if it's _really, really, really_ bad let me know and I'll explain our saga.


My dd2 had pretty solid sep anxiety for awhile, but nothing like dd1's. What ended up working for her was, as some of the other pp's have suggested, going straight into a structured activity with the teacher. I know for some other kids with sep anxiety the teachers read them a picture book and that seemed to help them. With my dd2 she went right into her "reading meeting" where dd2 "read" a little beginning reader to the teacher. I think that worked better for her to be the active one rather than passively listening to the story being read.


For now I'd try the structured activity situation and listen to your intuition. Be very very wary of giving in to school refusals, though, because that is avoidance behavior which will likely exacerbate the anxiety.


Basically, you have to figure out a way to make her comfortable enough to relax and engage and enjoy school. How you get there depends on the kid. 


P.S. I will say we had "The Kissing Hand" recommended to us and it was not my dd1's cup of tea at all. She said it made it worse. I think for a lot of kids it's a big help, though, so check it out, but keep an open mind.

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#9 of 9 Old 08-27-2012, 11:05 AM
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yeas if the child is shaking and in a panic mode then dont do it.  assess the level of fear and stay calm and soothing.  when in doubt do nothing... really plot out your plan and try not to use a lot of words when they are in anxious state.

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