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 Post subject: Help with separation anxiety?
PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:16 am 
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Hello PPK parents!
I did a search and didn't see anything about help with separation anxiety.
My 4 year old just started 3-day, full-day preschool (daycare, basically). Last year we did a co-op preschool that she loved but it was only 2.5 hours three days a week and some of the time I was there with her.
We just started her 4th week today and she's still having a hard time. It's totally understandable, it's very new, it's a very long time to be someplace with out me, etc. By the end of the day, she doesn't want to leave because she's having fun and the teachers tell me she settles down quickly and does well all day - it's just the initial separation. It breaks my heart for her to cry every morning and beg me not to go :(
Any suggestions to help her out, good books on the subject, general encouragement?


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 Post subject: Re: Help with separation anxiety?
PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:30 am 
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Oh man, that is so hard! For the longest time I did preschool drop off and my husband did pick up, so I was like, "this sucks," and my husband was like, "this is the best!" Something that possibly helped our son was that I made him a book - simple drawings, stapled together paper, nothing fancy! It told the story of being dropped off, and what he would do at school all day, and how he would be reunited with us at the end of the day. We read it A LOT for a while and is seemed to give him comfort. Good luck to you gals!


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 Post subject: Re: Help with separation anxiety?
PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 12:08 pm 
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Hello!
Piping in here, 'cuz I used to guide a primary Montessori classroom, and I have lots of experience with this. If she's settling in right away once you leave, then I think everything's AOK and y'all will settle into the routine soon. It's hard in the morning, everyone is tired and cranky. But, I'd find out how long the transition is taking, because if it's not happening pretty quickly, you might want to re-address. Does the teacher come and help you with the transition? If not, i'd ask for someone to come and help engage her in something right away, that will help too!

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kittee

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 Post subject: Re: Help with separation anxiety?
PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 12:29 pm 
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kittee wrote:
Hello!
Piping in here, 'cuz I used to guide a primary Montessori classroom, and I have lots of experience with this. If she's settling in right away once you leave, then I think everything's AOK and y'all will settle into the routine soon. It's hard in the morning, everyone is tired and cranky. But, I'd find out how long the transition is taking, because if it's not happening pretty quickly, you might want to re-address. Does the teacher come and help you with the transition? If not, i'd ask for someone to come and help engage her in something right away, that will help too!

xo
kittee

Thanks Kittee - they say that she will usually calm down within a few minutes and might seem sad on and off through out the day, but never cries or gets overly upset. The teachers do no actually step into as much as I would like and definitely will ask for some help getting her engaged.


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 Post subject: Re: Help with separation anxiety?
PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 12:58 pm 
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Also coming from the childcare provider side of this, I think things usually go much smoother when a teacher is engaging the kid and the parent leaves quickly. Usually kids who get upset when they're dropped off aren't going to calm down until the parent leaves, and they will just get more and more worked up as the parent tries to soothe them. If she's settling down quickly after you leave, I'm sure drop-off will be no problem soon.

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 Post subject: Re: Help with separation anxiety?
PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 2:27 pm 
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definitely leave quickly. smile, say hi to teacher, bye, love ya' to kid, and turn around and leave. seriously. you feel like the biggest piece of crepe ever for cold-heartedly walking away from your crying child, but it makes it so much easier for the kid. you can go be sad in the parking lot.

sorry if it sounds like i'm being abrupt, but really, it's hard, i get it. tzipi has been going to daycare for over a year now and still has days once in a while where she's disappointed or sad to be dropped off. no matter how long she's been going, i STILL can not be the one to calm her down and make her feel better... it has to be her teacher, or it's just gets dragged out. once the door to the classroom has been opened, i cannot deviate from the short, simple goodbye procedure.

your dd is 4, so you could probably talk to her a bit about how we start school each morning and what the steps are. try to find a time when she's feeling positive about school (like she's just told you about something fun she did yesterday) to discuss it, and then you can just quickly remind her in the morning that you're going to say goodbye and leave, and she's going to say goodbye and go play.


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 Post subject: Re: Help with separation anxiety?
PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 2:30 pm 
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littlebird wrote:
definitely leave quickly. smile, say hi to teacher, bye, love ya' to kid, and turn around and leave. seriously. you feel like the biggest piece of crepe ever for cold-heartedly walking away from your crying child, but it makes it so much easier for the kid. you can go be sad in the parking lot.

sorry if it sounds like i'm being abrupt, but really, it's hard, i get it. tzipi has been going to daycare for over a year now and still has days once in a while where she's disappointed or sad to be dropped off. no matter how long she's been going, i STILL can not be the one to calm her down and make her feel better... it has to be her teacher, or it's just gets dragged out. once the door to the classroom has been opened, i cannot deviate from the short, simple goodbye procedure.

your dd is 4, so you could probably talk to her a bit about how we start school each morning and what the steps are. try to find a time when she's feeling positive about school (like she's just told you about something fun she did yesterday) to discuss it, and then you can just quickly remind her in the morning that you're going to say goodbye and leave, and she's going to say goodbye and go play.

You know, I have been sticking around, trying to soothe and ease her into it. And I do feel like she's just trying to stretch the time I stay even longer. I will feel like crepe, but I know you have a point.


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 Post subject: Re: Help with separation anxiety?
PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 7:13 pm 
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Littlebird speaks the truth. Our 3-year old has been in daycare for 3 years (since she was 14 weeks old) and we STILL have rough mornings. (Also, so does every other kid there.) I'd definitely talk to the teacher(s) about being more hands on at drop off so you don't have to do the soothing - which will turn into your daughter doing her best to keep you there as long as possible. It will get better (and then not, because that's how kids roll). Good luck!

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 Post subject: Re: Help with separation anxiety?
PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:37 pm 
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littlebird wrote:
definitely leave quickly. smile, say hi to teacher, bye, love ya' to kid, and turn around and leave. seriously. you feel like the biggest piece of crepe ever for cold-heartedly walking away from your crying child, but it makes it so much easier for the kid. you can go be sad in the parking lot.

sorry if it sounds like i'm being abrupt, but really, it's hard, i get it. .

yes, definitely. quick, positive, and done. i used to volunteer in the preschool classroom sometimes and see the kids calm down quickly, transitions are hard (and my kids were no better with them) but hang in there, it will get better.

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 Post subject: Re: Help with separation anxiety?
PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:49 pm 
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kasiakoz wrote:
You know, I have been sticking around, trying to soothe and ease her into it. And I do feel like she's just trying to stretch the time I stay even longer. I will feel like crepe, but I know you have a point.


Totally--I've seen this millions of times...if a kid knows that screaming and crying gets mom to stay longer they'll keep screaming and crying.

Also this is probably ridiculously obvious and you've probably done it already, but ask the teachers for advice? They're the experts on this situation and would probably love to help.

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 Post subject: Re: Help with separation anxiety?
PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:58 pm 
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Oh also! Some kids start with actual separation anxiety (where they take a bit to calm down after the parent leaves) and then get to a point where they will still scream and cry when the parent is still there and then recover instantly as soon as the parent leaves. Seriously like NOOOOOOOOOO DON'T LEAVE ME then when the parent walks out the door they're like, oh, a truck! Usually this is with the parents who are really reluctant to leave and are really anxious about the whole thing...so basically, if you have anxiety about the situation, hide it well! Don't act like you're expecting her to have a meltdown. Also this is pretty much always a situation that gets better.

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 Post subject: Re: Help with separation anxiety?
PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 9:59 pm 
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Another yes, yes, yes to not making a fuss.

We babysat for a friend who was giving birth, and her kids seemed perfectly happy with us, until she would call and cry to them on the phone about how much she missed them. Then they would be upset for a few hours.

When she took them home, she "confided" in me that the minute they left us, they had said how sad they had been to be away from her and their dad and how it was a sign of how close they were as a family. I almost broke my eye-muscle from rolling them so hard.

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 Post subject: Re: Help with separation anxiety?
PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2012 12:18 am 
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Tofulish wrote:
Another yes, yes, yes to not making a fuss.

We babysat for a friend who was giving birth, and her kids seemed perfectly happy with us, until she would call and cry to them on the phone about how much she missed them. Then they would be upset for a few hours.

When she took them home, she "confided" in me that the minute they left us, they had said how sad they had been to be away from her and their dad and how it was a sign of how close they were as a family. I almost broke my eye-muscle from rolling them so hard.


Some parents really need their kids to have separation anxiety for their own ego...and the kids know it and play along. In my daycare days I met several of these parents for sure.

Some degree of separation anxiety is normal of course, but really a kid being able to function happily without their parents present is a sign of a secure attachment, so they've got it backwards anyway.

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 Post subject: Re: Help with separation anxiety?
PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2012 12:50 am 
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kasiakoz wrote:
You know, I have been sticking around, trying to soothe and ease her into it. And I do feel like she's just trying to stretch the time I stay even longer. I will feel like crepe, but I know you have a point.

oh my gosh! i didn't realize you were sticking around. go as fast as you can!!! it will be so much better. pinky swear.

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 Post subject: Re: Help with separation anxiety?
PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2012 2:22 pm 
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My mom was a preschool teacher for a few decades, and would absolutely back up what littlerbird said. If crying gets you to stay and comfort her, she'll cry, because the concern and full attention of a parent is always awesome, right? 5 minutes after you leave she's probably having the time of her life.


ETA: I don't actually have this problem. At gym daycare, V takes off from me at a tear towards the playground and other kids and then pretends she doesn't know me half the time when I come back for her.


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 Post subject: Re: Help with separation anxiety?
PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2012 8:17 pm 
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My son is just turning 2 and has had pretty bad separation anxiety for nearly the past year. Lately we've fallen into a good schedule where I get up 30 min early in the morning and cuddle with him/watch tv (I know bad, but he loves it and I don't turn it on any other time when we're home). I find that when I eventually go upstairs to shower, he cries a lot less after this little bit of time spent with him.

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 Post subject: Re: Help with separation anxiety?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 8:25 am 
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Well, this morning was awful.
I told her before we got there that I would walk in with her, give her a hug and then had to go. She seemed fine, until I was actually going. She was crying and clinging. One of the teachers took her to the big picture window so she could wave and when I got outside she was still crying. I walked to my car, turn the car around and have to drive past and can still see her in the window, still crying. I'm crying too, now.
It just feels so wrong. I've never left her to cry things out before, why is it ok now?
She told me last night she likes Dad better. I'm guessing it's because Dad doesn't leave her sobbing any place :(


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 Post subject: Re: Help with separation anxiety?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 8:58 am 
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I don't think letting another person comfort her is letting her cry it out. She had someone with her who cared about her to help her feel better, and I bet she calmed down quickly!

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 Post subject: Re: Help with separation anxiety?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 10:17 am 
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Taking her to the window seems like a bad idea to me. Just makes it harder for both of you.

Having only been on the teacher side of this, I can say that a quick drop off is the best thing to do. Kids are usually upset for as long as they can see their parent. Once out of sight, everything is fine. If she is really have a miserable time the whole day, and not just the two minutes at drop off, the teachers should let you know.

Sorry this is so hard! Quick like a bandaid is my advice.


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 Post subject: Re: Help with separation anxiety?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 11:40 am 
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Man, I feel your pain. I'm so sorry. Is it possible at all for her dad to do some drop-offs? For some reason, Lucy does better when her dad drops her off. And I do the same as you - talk to her, explain exactly what's coming (and she seems fine with it), and some days - wham! It's the hysterics that never seem to end. (But they do, almost as soon as I'm out of there.) It seriously does get better and you are NOT a bad parent or letting her cry it out. Hang in there!

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 Post subject: Re: Help with separation anxiety?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 12:10 pm 
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sofrito wrote:
Man, I feel your pain. I'm so sorry. Is it possible at all for her dad to do some drop-offs? For some reason, Lucy does better when her dad drops her off. And I do the same as you - talk to her, explain exactly what's coming (and she seems fine with it), and some days - wham! It's the hysterics that never seem to end. (But they do, almost as soon as I'm out of there.) It seriously does get better and you are NOT a bad parent or letting her cry it out. Hang in there!

My husband works almost an hour away and needs to be there at 8, her day doesn't start till 8:30, so he needs to take time off to do that. He did it twice at the beginning of the month, but it's not very practical on a regular basis.

Thanks to everyone for your encouragement and thoughts!


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 Post subject: Re: Help with separation anxiety?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:34 am 
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Just updating to say we seem to be over the hump!
3 days in a row now of easy drop offs. Getting her up a bit earlier seems to help - she has some time to do her own thing, she gets to see Dad before he leaves and I'm not hassling her to rush.
Yay!


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 Post subject: Re: Help with separation anxiety?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:55 am 
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so glad to hear it. it's hard when you know they're crying and you feel like a monster.

(to my horror, i found that in these situations [or when the kid is tantrumming] my automatic instinct is to laugh- you can imagine that it makes everything worse. so i would just walk away ASAFP!)

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 Post subject: Re: Help with separation anxiety?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:57 am 
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also,
kasiakoz wrote:
3 days in a row now of easy drop offs.

go run find some wood to knock on RIGHT THIS MINUTE

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 Post subject: Re: Help with separation anxiety?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 9:32 am 
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I have a friend who says she used to cry and sob when her mom dropped her off and go run to the window and cry at it until her mom was out of sight and then she was fine -- she just liked being dramatic and winding her mom up. That's probably not the case with your little one, but you could always pretend it is if you feel badly dropping her off. ;p

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