Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I need advice... really badly... good advice... got any? (Caveat: please don't tell me that crying is good for children and it makes us all strong... it's not my world view... so if you have other advice I'd really love to hear it. Thank you).

My four-year-old and I used to go to a co-op preschool, so I worked some days and not others. It was great for me (I learned a lot about what kind of parent I wanted to be) but it was torture for her because she could never understand the pattern of what days I was there, and what days I was dropping her off. So, this year we moved her to an extremely wonderful and nurturing preschool with only 12 kids (same number as the co-op)... in fact, the teacher is a former co-op mom (and she has help - 1 or 2 assistants depending on the day).

Problem: my daughter STILL doesn't want to go to school if I'm not coming. Well, that's really not a problem in my view, she's 4 after all, and it seems totally normal... but the problem is the way it's handled. I don't like leaving crying (sometimes sobbing) children with someone else. I don't like the whole scenario where I walk away from this child I've vowed to nurture while she's clearly in distress, while someone else restrains her from following and grabbing onto me.

Fundamentals: I realized last night, that the reason I find it hard to walk away, the reason I'm then miserable until I go pick up my child (thus negating all of the great "me" time I'm supposed to be getting while alone) is that this action goes against every single decision I've made in parenting... of nurturing, of figuring out what the need is and feeding it, of being gentle and supportive with my children.

Real problem: I'm not sure how to get my daughter a preschool experience that does not require a) me to stay and be present, or b) to leave her kicking and screaming.

Are those really my only options? Is there a way to set up the drop off so that this can go differently? Is there some explanation that I can give of why preschool is important? Is there some trick, technique, or set of words that can change this? Or is this doomed to go on until she decides that she's not important enough to be heard and just gives up the crying? Oh please don't tell me that's how this will go... I'm not sure I can handle it...


  1. First of all, I am not a mom, so feel free to ignore my advice. This is what I have learned from friends who are either parents or work at preschools (or both).

    My best friend, who works at a preschool, would love to kick every parent who stays instead of leaving and therefore makes her work more complicated.

    Of course it is difficult for a child, at first, to stay somewhere without parents when all it has ever known before was being together with them. (I heard it's less of a problem if they had occasional babysitting.)

    Therefore the first few times the child will be upset.

    Now, if the parents show they are in distress, the child feels there must be something wrong - and they start crying even more. Thus the parents get more upset, and... - you get the picture.

    The only solution is to assure the child that you will come back and then leave. If there have been problems in the past, it will take longer for her to adjust, but she will be fine in the end.

    Maybe there are ways to "bribe" her - give her a little present she will be allowed to open as soon as you're gone etc.?

  2. Hello Moon,
    This is horrible I know. Does she settle after you have gone or does she continue to be upset? Having worked with children in this environment it's my experience that most children are back to their usual selves within a few minutes of their parents leaving.
    I'm really lucky as I never had this problem with my first - he was independant to a fault with this sort of thing. It was me that would hover by the door anxiously while he ran off with barely a backward glance. I fear that the baby boy is going to be a whole different kettle of fish.
    I would suggest that you have an agreement with your little girl that mummy will stay for 'x' amount of time to play. Does the preschool have a break where they all sit down for a drink/story/circle time etc that is not too far into the session? If they don't maybe you can request that they move it to an earlier time and tell your little girl that mummy isn't allowed to stay for this time? Or possibly if that is too much just that mummy isn't allowed to stay on the carpet or sit at the table with her and stay across the otherside of the room? Either way I'd try the 'agreement' and shorten the time each day until you are leaving with all the other parents. Try giving her a simple picture watch so she has a visual of how long she has and when you have to leave.
    I find the ' mummy isn't allowed' thing works wonders with my eldest - he seems to appreciate that I have rules that i have to follow just as he does and that idea of bowing before a higher authority.
    Another thing you and your little girl may find helpful is if you can leave something of yours with her.Maybe you can start wearing a neck scarf - let her see you wearing it for a little while so she comes to associate it with you. If you wear perfume make sure the neckscarf smells of too. Tell her it is very specail to you. Once your little girl has made the connection between you and the scarf let her keep it with her while she is at pre-school as a comfort aid - she will have a little piece of mummy to keep with her. Make sure you put the scarf back on when you pick her up so that it remains something of yours and not just a comforter because then it will lose all of its power.
    I hope this helps. It will get better soon xx

  3. Thanks guys... for now my husband is dropping her off, and that seems to be a little easier. She didn't cry for me until AFTER he left... which made it easier for him too... he didn't have to walk away from a sobbing child.

    Diandra - Thanks for the insight from the other side... but honestly, I'm not really worried about how easy the preschool teacher's job is, I'm concerned that my daughter feel supported. You ARE right that the longer I stayed the worse it got, I think the anticipation of me leaving drug out... and the sobbing escalated. Giving her a bribe... in the sense that I gave her some stones to carry with her that belong to me did help her yesterday. That's a golden tool!

    Nellie - Thanks for the "talisman" idea... we did that and it did really help! I have also done the "mommy isn't allowed here" thing... and it worked for the first week. Things have gotten worse rather than better. She says she doesn't want to go to school before we even leave the house.

    My long-term solution involves more time. I am a student of a healing practice that uses a dialogue with the body through muscle testing. You can clear and support many emotions and physical issues... even fears/hurt/anger that are brought into this life from a past one. This will take a little more time, but hopefully I can help her sort through what's going on for her. (Disclaimer: before you think that I'm putting strange stuff in her head... we don't talk about this consciously, I usually work with her when she's asleep). It may sound silly, but it works wonders!

    Thanks for the advice! If things don't get better I'm going to talk to the teacher about setting a time that parents need to be gone so "school" can start... that's a good idea. Sometimes if she and I just have to follow the rules (YIKES!) it's actually easier for her.

    This parenting gig is the hardest thing I've done yet! Whew!

  4. OMG! I just lost a huge post thanking you both!!! GRRRRR...

    Suffice it to say that I'm thankful for the response... you both suggested a "talisman"... some object that would help her get through the day without me. I did that... I let her choose some stones from a collection I have and she got to put them in a little bag and take them to school with her. Thank you for that tip... it truly is a golden tool... and in fact, I had used it with my older daughter and forgotten it!

    For now my husband is dropping her off. That's a little easier since she waits until he's gone to be sad that I'm not there. At least, that's what the teacher is telling me. Hopefully she'll get more confident soon.

    Thanks again for the sage advice!

  5. I may be a bit late, but thought I'd offer a bit of advice if it is still needed.

    I teach kindergarten and it is very normal for children who have not been left with many other people to have anxiety about separating from parents.

    I usually ask the child to come to the carpet or engage in some sort of fun activity. The day before this is to happen I inform both child and parent that this will happen at arrival. In the morning, I give the parent a designated "watch" spot while the child goes off to do the required activity. After a set amount of time, parent slips out usually unseen (goodbyes were said before the activity began).

    This transition seems to work more often than not.

    I also allow children to bring in a lovie (stuffed animal) or photo of the family and carry it around. I slowly ween the child off the object at a rate that is good for the child.

    Another, idea is to have a visual schedule and to preview the schedule before bed and before leaving in the morning. Allowing a child to know his/her scedule ahead of time tends to give the child a sense of control and structure.

    Hope this helps a bit.

  6. Hello Moondaughter.... I find the healing past life issues interesting.

    My son (now 21) had screaming fits when i left him, & yes he calmed quickly when i left, but that wasn't the issue. I did the "don't react, just leave... set the plan, take something with him etc etc... this went on for ages, tho he was happy to leave me if he went with someone else & he was used to socialising & having a sitter etc & was a confident child. There seemed no logical reason... his protestations of not wanting to go (to anywhere, with anyone) did not match the reports from everyone who told me how happy he had been within 5 mins of me leaving!

    I can't remember how long this went on for... but in was no short term thing. I hadn't embraced the spiritual/ healing path back then ... but i think you could be onto something... there are quite a few situations with him that i can think of now that could be due to 'carry-over' issues... they do say healing helps the 7 generations past & future... good luck x

  7. Thanks everyone... things are really much better already! My husband taking her in helped for awhile, then I had to take her again on Friday. She was OK Friday, but yesterday she had a tear in her eye when I left. It wasn't the sobbing, and it's ok for her to be sad, so I thought it was huge progress. Not to mention that she even noticed that she leaves before some other kids (she only goes a half day)... and she asked if she could stay longer! LOL! How far it's come in just two weeks!

    I did do some energy balancing work with her, and that helped too (I think... you could always argue that it was just time and getting used to the school, and I'm sure that's part of it). I have to admit, that some of the work required me to make some shifts as well. I hadn't consciously realized that she's my last child... growing up... and I didn't really want to let her go either. She had also noticed that I had a hard time with my older daughter starting first grade, and my preschooler was also worried about me. It was a complicated web of emotion that made it hard for her to go to school. We're still ironing out the details, but all is going much better. Thanks again everyone who contributed perspectives here!