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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just joined a gym that has a great playroom for kids so DS can play while I work out. The first week went great. He barely said goodbye to me before running off to play. I wasn't worried -- that's typical for him. He's very social and adventurous, and if there's something around to play with, he forgets I exist.<br><br>
Then last weekend, I went in to take him for a potty break, and he started to cry as soon as he saw me. I calmed him down, took him potty, and then told him I'd be back in a little while. He started crying again, not wanting me to leave. He never gets upset like that, so we left, and I didn't get to finish my workout. The sitter said nothing happened, he just started crying when I left and then she distracted him with coloring, which is what he was doing when I came back. Maybe some of the kids were mean, I don't know. All he would say then is that he didn't want to color.<br><br>
We went back on Monday. I left him, no problem. Told the sitter what had happened and to call me if he cried. I checked in (just by signaling her through the glass door where DS couldn't see me) a few times and he was fine.<br><br>
Today we went, and he wouldn't let me leave. He was fine to play as long as I was there, but when I went to leave he cried. After 45 minutes, I gave up and we left w/o me exercising at all. This is not good. I have health problems and I *NEED* to exercise. I can do a little at home, but I really need the weights too.<br><br>
How can I help him feel more comfortable there? I don't know what changed.
 

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Not sure how old he is but if you can trust the sitter I would say take him, do a very brief drop off and tell him you will be back. Then leave. Let them know that if he cries for more than X minutes to let you know. My guess is that it will only last a minute or two. Drawn out goodbyes with coaxing and such make the experience much harder, IMO. And maybe start with shorter work outs, to reassure him you are coming back.
 

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My daughter - I think - is much younger than your son, she's 19 months but has been having a lot of separation anxiety (which is very common at this age), so I don't know if it might be something developmental for your son or not. But if you think it is separation anxiety and not something bad that happened while you were gone, there's a few things I've learned at my early childhood family education class and through trial and error at daycare for my daughter and from the book The Emotional Life of the Toddler:<br><br>
1. talk about the separation before it happens. Like that morning or well before. Describe what he might do, coloring or whatever they have to do there that he enjoys, what you will be doing while he is playing. Include talking about how you will see him when you are done and what you guys might do later in the day or evening.<br><br>
2. If your gym allows it (and I think some do NOT), show him where you will be, point out treadmill etc. maybe even if there's just a window you can look in on the workout room or the pool or wherever you are working out so that he has a visual of where you will be while he's playing.<br><br>
3. Like the previous poster said, when you say good-bye, leave then, don't draw it out. This can be whenever you decide is right, once he's settled or sooner- you know your child best about when that might be. Even if this has never happened before, you can probably get a sense of where he is, how he is feeling when you walk in the room next time.<br><br>
4. We have a little photo album of daycare for Thalia but that may be a bit elaborate for this situation. Although I know someone who did that for her 2.5 year old daughter at ECFE where the parents separate from the kids for 1 hour and 20 minutes.<br><br>
I can't think of anything else but I'm tired so if I remember anything else I'll come back tomorrow.<br><br>
Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I should have said that he's 2 and a half, and I SAH with him, so we're always together.<br><br>
He told DH tonight that he cried at the gym b/c he didn't want to color, and that he pushed a girl. (I suspected that the girl, who is older and bigger, was giving him a hard time...) He didn't say anything about that this morning, but apparently he remembers it.<br><br>
So I'm really just supposed to walk away while he's crying and tell him to have fun? I just don't think I can do that, although I know that trying to comfort him just drags it out and makes him more upset...
 

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We changed gyms over a year ago, and then the gym we were at closed. So we've switched back to the Y where we'd been when DS was 8 to 20 months old. (He's now 32 months)<br><br>
DS has also been having some trouble with separation anxiety at the child care. I tried dropping him off and just leaving quickly. They had to come get me for that one, he wouldn't stop crying. So I stayed with him while DH finished his workout. It was at the end of that stay that we realized they had a Barney video.<br><br>
So the next time I dropped him off, I asked for Barney right away. I did say goodbye. Then as soon as I could get out of sight, I waited to see if he would settle in. I have to admit, I peeked a few times, but fortunately he was looking the other way. With the video, he calmed down enough for us to do our thing.
 

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<div style="font-style:italic;">So I'm really just supposed to walk away while he's crying and tell him to have fun? I just don't think I can do that, although I know that trying to comfort him just drags it out and makes him more upset...</div>
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I do this with DD. I hate it, but within 2 minutes of the sitter playing with her and holding her ( I spy through the window) she's totally engrossed in something else. i always tell them anything more than 5 minutes of fussing/crying they need to come get me.
 

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<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">So I'm really just supposed to walk away while he's crying and tell him to have fun? I just don't think I can do that, although I know that trying to comfort him just drags it out and makes him more upset...</td>
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Well, it really does depend on how comfortable you are with it, if you aren't comfortable doing this then you don't have to, of course! Just depends how high a priority it is for you to workout at the gym.<br><br>
Often they do only cry for a couple of minutes and then are done. Living in the moment and all. It's still gut-wrenching to walk out the door, but if you have an agreement with the babysitter that they will come get you if he cries for X amount of time and you trust that they will do that, then this might give you peace of mind. Most gyms I've heard of will come get you- they don't want to put your son through that either. Also, I've noticed and heard that other kids start crying once one is crying and I'm pretty sure the babysitters don't want to deal with that either! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/wink1.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="wink1"> Do they have a window you can peek through to reassure yourself?<br><br>
I remembered something else that we do- we left a picture of us with Thalia at daycare and her "teachers" get it out whenever she's upset and talk to her about Mami and Daddy to remind her that we love her.<br><br>
I'm not totally convinced that your son is actually having separation anxiety, it may just have been that he was frustrated with crayons and the bigger kid bugging him and he was DONE that day, you know? But you know your son the best! What he is saying and not saying, what he might be feeling even if he can't articulate it. Maybe next time you go, you can see how he feels and if it's going badly at the beginning in a way that you aren't comfortable you can ditch the plan?
 

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Oh one other thing-- sorry to be so long-winded about this! But I didn't mean to imply that you should say "good-bye, have fun! see ya!" in a breezy, dismissive way. In fact, I don't mention fun when my daughter is crying or upset when I leave her. (I might say this before I drop her off in the overview of the day- something like, "You will sing your favorite songs- that will be fun") At the actual drop-off I usually say something like, "I know it's hard for you. It's hard for Mami too. I will miss you. I love you. Bye-bye, Adios" This way I acknowledge and validate that she is feeling sad (which is the kind of thing we do all the time with feelings) but it's not like, "Okay, I won't leave until you don't feel bad" cos in reality, for my daughter at the age she is at, that's never going to happen! Separation anxiety is a very normal developmental stage, from what I've read, and as long as you don't completely dismiss them (or dismiss your own instincts about the emotional upheaval that your child is capable of dealing with), they will likely be fine.
 

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I'm all for trying to help him to just get used to the new environment and sitter IF - and I mean IF - you are sure there aren't other issues.<br><br>
I think the fact that he mentioned pushing a girl may show that maybe the sitter isn't on top of all the interactions between kids the way the sitter should be?<br><br>
Maybe leave him again and if he's 2 1/2 ask him what he didn't like about being left THIS time. See if he's able to articulate any specific reason (which he may not be able to) and maybe you'll get a better feel after trying it again but talkng to him?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Well, we're going to try again tomorrow... I think I'm going to try to get him to pee in the car potty so I can just drop him off and leave quickly. I'll start talking to him about it tonight and see if I can get him excited to see the babysitter tomorrow.<br><br>
LROM, I'm sure that sitter wasn't on top of anything -- it was a madhouse (he won't be coming back on weekends when it's crowded) and I'm sure she didn't see the interaction. I barely caught it, and it didn't look like much to me, but I have no idea if there was more before that that I didn't see. The weekday sitter seems much more into the kids, and hopefully will give him a little extra love now that she knows there's a problem. And yeah, I'm hoping he'll be able to tell me more, but he's only just starting to answer questions instead of repeating them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Update: We went yesterday and he cried and cried. So I finally got the sitter to shut the gate and just handed him over to her (he had tried to run out when he realized I was leaving him). He stopped crying almost immediately, and when I checked in 5 minutes later he was fine. After the workout, he wasn't in much of a rush to leave, as long as I wasn't goin to leave him there.<br><br>
This morning we went again, and he said once or twice that he didn't want to go, but when we got there he was fine. (Partly, I think, b/c the sitter was at the computer and hadn't shut the gate yet, so he went over to look at the screen with her.) I told him to show her the toy he'd brought with him and left. No incident. And the toy was still sitting on the desk, untouched, when I got back, so they obviously didn't spend much time on that before he went on to other things. She said he shadowed her the whole time, but at least he wasn't unhappy.<br><br>
Thanks for the tips! I hope it continues to go smoothly -- with summer coming, there'll be more kids and older kids there, so I'm a little concerned....
 
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