DS is 2.5 and just started a 3x week preschool program. Normally I WOH but I am on maternity leave so have been able to start the school year with him while my mom watches DD. He was excited and nervous to start school and for the first three sessions he ran into the classroom with barely a glance behind him. I was thrilled! The school has us stay right outside the classroom for the first two sessions. The third session I told him I was leaving and he was like, OK! And didn’t seem to even notice when I came back (along with the other parents) before class was over.
The fourth session (last Friday), however, I left right at drop off and came back at the end of class only to find him mid-meltdown wanting mommy. They told me it was just the very tail end of class that he was upset and he had otherwise done great so I was optimistic for today. Over the weekend we talked about being excited for school but didn’t want to make too big a deal of it. But today immediately upon getting to school he started wimpering that he didn’t want to miss me, then that he wanted to go home. I stayed outside the classroom for awhile until he was engrossed, then tried to leave, which caused a full meltdown. The teachers felt it was best for me to just leave at that point so I did, got a coffee, and then waited outside the school building (where I said I’d be) so they could come get me if needed. He made it probably 40 minutes but then during a transition in from playing outside started crying again so they came and got me. He told me he wanted to leave but when I reassured him I would stay outside the classroom he raced right back in for snack and didn’t check on me again.
With apologies for the novel, I also noticed the last two classes that immediately upon returning home he squatted down to try to poop in his diaper. He very often has a mid-morning poop, so part of me wonders if this isn’t partially because he doesn’t want to poop at school but he’s uncomfortable and needs to. I really have no idea what to do about this part! Breakfast is currently as late as it can be—do we move breakfast earlier? We have a late-ish bedtime so I really don’t like to wake him up any earlier than he’s currently getting up!
Any tips?! I’m at a bit of a loss! I wish I knew what magic words to say to remind him how much fun he was having at school. Anyone been through this and have tips for separation that work? We were also considering having my husband do drop off in hopes that he’ll be less clingy and won’t have the option of me sticking around, but I’m not sure if that change-up makes sense. Of course in the back of my mind is the fact that I’m returning to work in three weeks and if this is how he reacts when I’m gone for 40 minutes, I’m really worried about dropping him off when I’m then headed to work all day ...
Wisdom/guidance/commiseration would all be much appreciated!
nectarine / 2288 posts
Being upset at drop off is totally normal. As is being upset over new things. I think it's weird that the school wants you to wait around, generally the best way to get them acclimated is a quick goodbye and then diving right into school.
And bottom line he will get used to it and stop crying. It just takes time. Just keep reassuring him that you always come back
clementine / 828 posts
@MamaBear87: fair enough! i guess since he's the only one in his (tiny) class who had trouble, it feels like something i need to somehow fix. i do think pulling the bandaid off right at dropoff is probably the right strategy going forward ... since we had a few classes where we automatically stayed or stayed for some amount of time, i wasn't sure what to do today but i think if that's the consistent message going forward he may do better.
nectarine / 2400 posts
Drop and run but yah he’ll be fine. The crying may also come and go. Sometimes my 4.5yo will randomly cry. Kids are resilient
eggplant / 11716 posts
I don't know about the regression part, but my youngest just started full day pre-k, and she cried on and off the entire first day , then she scream cried at drop off for the next 2 weeks, and then finally last Thursday she didn't cry but just kind of whined she didn't want to go to school. Friday was similar. Today--MAGIC HAPPENED--she didn't whine OR cry! So it's taken about 3 weeks, but it's been a somewhat linear progression thus far.
One thing I've noticed is that it makes her worse when we constantly talk about school in the off hours--she gets anxious and upset and really ramps up the "I don't want to go" statements. My husband was trying to normalize school, so he was talking about it constantly and she was getting more and more worked up. Finally, I suggested we stop mentioning it altogether, like we only mentioned it right when it was time to get dressed in the morning, and then she had less time to fixate on it and seemed to go with the flow a bit more.
persimmon / 1390 posts
We drop and run with DD2. She’s super clingy and upset in the mornings. She’s usually fine when we pick her up, although they have had a lot of transition in her room so that’s a little tough. But it’s totally normal. I’d be asking for my money back if they had me come pick her up—it’s their job to figure that out.
nectarine / 2400 posts
@Becky: my youngest is in a 2s room and they wanted me to pick him up one day because he was sleeping - no fever, not sick, just tired. I was like doesn’t that make it easier if ones sleeping???
apricot / 275 posts
So apparently I'm different than everyone else, but I do the opposite of drop & run! My daughter is 2.5 and in all-day daycare, not preschool, and it's not new for her. But she can be sensitive and is sometimes really clingy, and I've noticed it helps if I go in the room with her and hang out for a few minutes. Maybe read a book to her, play blocks for a few minutes. Then we do "hug and kiss", and I easily walk out. Sometimes she'll want "one more hug and kiss", but 95% of the time, I walk out of the room and she's fine. If I happen to be running late and try to leave quicker, she protests and it occasionally ends with the teacher peeling her off of me kicking and screaming... Not sure if they would allow something like that, or if it would even work with him?
clementine / 828 posts
@kayla0416: that’s honestly what I do think generally works better for him—he’s been with a nanny for two years (until my recent maternity leave) so he’s used to me leaving and I definitely took a soft touch approach of sticking around a little longer to calm him if he was having a tough morning, and it generally only meant five or ten extra minutes of my time. Which is what I tried this morning but it just didn’t work! I appreciate @Anagram: point that talking about it too much can backfire but I’m thinking we set up a routine in advance like “we will go in the classroom and do one story and one hug but then mommy has to leave” and no negotiating after that.
coconut / 8483 posts
Our pre school strongly recommends the quick drop off. Hug, kiss and pass them to the teacher if they won’t willingly go.
When I tried to stay it would end terribly. Now that he’s in kinder, we decide on the way how many hugs and kisses he would like so we do that quickly and off he goes. It definitely took a while.
nectarine / 2641 posts
Preschool teacher here
First, it's totally normal to "regress." Preschool was fun and amazing and new and exciting for a few days. Now I've figured out it means that Mom isn't around, and I'm not feeling it He will come out the other side okay.
That said, I strongly encourage a quick drop-off. I also suggest a really specific, reliable routine (one story, one hug, one kiss or a set drop off with a particular teacher). My younger son, when he had a tough drop-off, would tell me which teacher he wanted me to hand him to. I'd also develop some sort of signal (even something like "Ms. XXXX, I'm ready to leave) so that they come over and assist you with the moment of separation and are ready to distract asap. And yes, it's definitely worth trying dad dropping off. I have one student who will scream and run out of the classroom if mom drops him off, but is settled and ready to go if dad does it. This isn't true of most of my kiddos, but some have more trouble with one parent (usually mom) in regards to separation.
Also, kids are weird. The only child in my class who cried the first week at drop-off was my own child (he's in my class this year). So there's always that
nectarine / 2641 posts
@nwm: I just remembered one more thing. My older started preschool at 2 and really struggled with drop-off. I started using a system with him that helped a ton. I mean, I think every parent in the world does some sort of "warning" (in one minute, I am going to need to leave.) But the key for him was telling him "In one minute, Mama is going to go, and you're going to say 'okay'". We practiced it at home. Sometimes when kids don't know how to react to a situation, they default to tears (I don't like not knowing how to react either), but if you tell him what to do when you leave, that could really help! We practiced it many times at home, and then we would even do it a couple times before I left. "In 5 minutes...and you'll say "okay"" "In 2 minutes...and you'll say "okay"". Now I'm going to go, and you're going to say "Okay."
clementine / 828 posts
@Jess1483: thank you!! This is so helpful. This was kind of what I was thinking—setting a clear routine from here on out and reinforcing it with him at home so its great to have these tips. Also lol about your LO crying while in your class!
pomegranate / 3127 posts
About the meltdown - maybe you just caught him at a bad moment. Kids do get upset in day care. It may have nothing to do with whether you were there, especially if he started crying before you got back. Although, I'm not used to preschool where parents are encouraged to wait outside, and I wonder whether that could be a problem. Maybe if he thinks you're just hovering outside the whole time, he'll melt down more because some kids just cry more with their mom around. Maybe being clear that you're leaving will actually help him adjust. Not that it makes things always easy, both of my kids knew at that age that I go to work after I drop them off, and we still had/have some horrible drop-odds.
The pooping thing seems pretty common from my experience, and talking to friends. Some kids just don't feel comfortable going in preschool. So they get used to saving the good stuff for as soon as they get home I'm not thrilled to be greeted with that first thing after work, but oh well. The only time we ran into a big problem there was when DS started preschool and I had no clue that when he doesn't go No. 2 for a week, it's not because he did it in preschool - it's because he didn't do it at all. Took a few months of keeping him on a strict diet to fix his tummy problems...
cantaloupe / 6171 posts
developmentally, kids go through different stages of being okay with separation or not, so it isn't really a regression--they just sometimes have harder times and sometimes easier.
at our daycare, we go in and play for a bit to gently say goodbye--I find it's easier to go once my kiddos are engrossed in play and excited about what they're going to be doing. I give a 2 minute warning, and also choices--like the other day lo2 threw herself in my arms when I said bye and I said something like "ohh you're giving me such a big snuggle! I have to leave after this big hug, but do you want to snuggle your teddybear or your teacher next?" they also have lots of peekaboo type games out right now for the beginning of the year in her class, so we spend time saying "hi" and "goodbye" while playing. the book "llama llama misses mama" is also fabulous, and reinforces that mama always comes back. our daycare also uses pictures, so my girls can always look at images of us when they need to, and we say "I'll miss you too" or "I missed you today" to acknowledge their feelings
squash / 13199 posts
@nwm: I'm really surprised by their approach of having you linger around and coming to get you if he is upset. I think that makes it harder for him. When DD was about 3 she went through a phase of tough drop offs when we switched preschool. In our expereience a quick clean goodbye works best. She would be screaming my name and it was very hard to walk away but that's what I would do. In a couple of weeks she totally loved going to get class and even wanted to go on weekends
grapefruit / 4455 posts
1. I wouldn't call this regression but normal "oh this is permanent?" reaction.
2. Project confidence when you leave and I don't think lingering is appropriate assuming he is typically developing... if there are special needs, disregard my opinion, I don't know.
3. Expect with very part time preschool that the transition could take longer-6-8 or more weeks is what I remember being told for part timers. Obviously not all kids but it did take a long time for our kid. We bumped lo1 to 5 half days because of this.
4. A probiotic might change his rate of digestion and help get him at a different regular time. Just a thought. Or he might just hold it til after til he gets used to that time.
5. It'll pass!
pear / 1580 posts
Mine did the save-poop-for-home bit also. I’m just glad he has the poop at all! Seems par for the course, so I wouldn’t make any changes to breakfast or anything.
As for the separation, seems like you have a lot of good advice here! I hope you find something that works!