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Woe and Monkeybars

So, preschool is going better. Sort of. Once Mia gets into her classroom, she's fine, but getting her there is fraught with drama and woe. Most recently, when informed in the morning that it was a preschool day she flat out screamed for a solid half hour. She cried and screamed and cried some more and as I hugged her I could feel her heart pounding in her chest. She cried while I got her dressed, she cried when I told her to get in the car, she cried all the way there, and she howled when it was time to go into the building.

And then, she was fine. She did a puzzle, made a craft, went down the slide, played on the monkey bars, and even ate her snack. She had only good things to say when I picked her up. Except that she also said she doesn't want to go back.

I am at a bit of a loss about what to say to her when she is begging me not to take her to preschool. I have tried reminding her that she has had lots of fun being there. I have tried telling her that it is ok to cry, that I understand, and that she won't always feel the need to cry. I have tried telling her that this is new, and new can be a little scary, and that soon she will get used to it and be happy to go and won't feel this fear and sadness anymore. And she seems to be getting some of that, but she is still screaming.

I dunno. Anybody have any brilliant ideas of what to say to this kid as I am forcing her to do something that causes her to sob?

(And hey, because I love you, I got my sidebar to load last so you no longer have to sit around waiting for those stupid-ass slow ads to load before you can get to my fabulous and scintillating content. Or actually, I got him to do it for me. You're welcome. Now, get off my ass about the "remember me" thing - I'll get it fixed one of these days. Maybe.)

Comments (34)

Just tell her you'll see her later. ;)
It gets better, really. It sounds like preschool is not a daily event? I would consider making it so, to allow for it be a more routine thing in her eyes.
But, considering that you have been with her every day of her life, can you really expect her not to sob?

It will get better. I've been there and went through it for a few weeks last year. My daughter still had her moments throughout the year but nothing like those first weeks.

Now this year it's much better.

As long as these next few weeks may seem in a few months she'll and you will wonder what all the fuss was about.

I know this may seem silly, but my friend's son used to get all wigged out because he was afraid that "no mommies would see" him. Once she reminded him that his preschool teachers were also mommies, he was okay with it all. Oh, and she would bribe him with fruit snacks at pick up time if he didn't cry at drop off. That worked pretty well, too.

make sure to "warn" her. don't just spring school days on her. maybe the day before bring it up. and then again that night. it makes an easier transition and will be met with less resistance(eventually)if she knows it's coming. good luck!

What about a special goodbye routine? Try not to make it too involved (I just watched a 15 minute game of dad and son both pretending they wanted to play with the dried beans at preschool today) since it's possible you'll be doing this for a long time. I think the book "The Kissing Hand" might be a good starting point. It's about a raccoon who is afraid to leave for school and the mommy raccoon (why are rodents more evolved than we are?) has a special kiss she gives her baby so that he won't miss her. You could read the book together at night or another time when school is not immediately looming, and then discuss what Mia would like you to do before you leave her at the classroom door.

Let me tell you a quick (I hope) story. I hope it helps. When my daughter started preschool we had the same issue. As far I was concerned, though, it was preschool, not Harvard. If we had to take her home and start again the next day, fine. *I* thought that. Her preschool teacher told me I was "setting her up to fail" and stood in the doorway between me and my screaming child (the very closest I have ever come to an adult fist fight. Or more accurately, choking her until she got out of my way and gave me my baby).

Anyway, after that day, I was done. I could not do it again. My husband brought her and she didn't try any of that shit with him. Not that it wouldn't have worked, it totally would have. It must have just been a different energy, different everything having him bring her. He did it for about a week and it was my turn again, no problems.

I'm not saying Mia is as manipulative as my little wonder was but it may be worth a try (and a break for you) to have someone else drop her off. Maybe that could be part of the "adventure" of preschool. Grammie is going to walk you to school and I'll pick you up! Daddy is going to get you a donut on the way to school and I'll bring your dolly to pick you up! Oh, how could I forget bribery? Another option.

Good Luck. I would say you are clear of horrible experiences for at least 3 years after you get through this one. Starting preschool really sucks.

I'm sorry to be a comment hog. I had one suggestion I forgot about that they have recommended at all of my kids schools. I didn't read your last post's comments so I am going to look like an ass if someone already suggested it so forgive me if you heard it before.

The Kissing Hand is a book about first days and includes a ritual of giving kisses into the child's hand for them to keep for later in case she is missing mom.

Again, good luck.

My youngest daughter did the same thing. It turned out she had to be there first before anyone else. She didn't like people/kids looking at her as she arrived.

She stayed like that until Grade 4 *sigh*

Perhaps try something like a hanky that has a smell she associates with you?

I'm with Shokufeh. Unless you're willing to just stop sending her, just don't react too much to it.

At my kids old school, the ECE and K teachers have this very uber strict rule about no parents at all anywhere near their classroom for the first month of school. They teachers pick the kids up outside and march them in. They do this because, amazingly enough, once mom's gone, the freak-outs tend to stop.

I know that's not your problem, and that she's just sad about the whole thing, and it's heartbreaking, but maybe that info helps? I dunno. My kid kicked me in the shins today and barrelled into her classroom for her first day of school. She's SO sick of me. That's it! You should just be a crappy mom like me, and she'll be begging you to go!

Good luck, dude.

Have you asked Mia what she thinks might help? I remember reading a blog entry (I think it was dooce!) where the child had a fit every day of school, and her Mom finally asked her what would help. It turned out that just taking a different backpack was all she needed! Kids are weird and funny and easier to please than we'd ever guess sometimes.

Good luck. Hugs to you and Mia.

No advice. I cried when I started kindergarten (just a tad embarassing) and that lasted half the year. Eventually one of the teachers told me that for each day I didn't cry she'd give me a sticker. Maybe a little treat or reward would work for each day she doesn't cry? It's got to get better though, hang in there!

Beth this sounds awful and I'm sorry this is happening. Em's advice sounds pretty good as does Mr. Lady. Addy's preschool ushers her right in the door before she gets a chance to realize I'm gone. Would an evening and morning ritual help? Laying out clothes or packing a snack to eat at (or right after) school could be good ... or really, really bad :)

Agree it is okay not to like everything. Agree she *will* come home to you after.

And keep going. It *does* help her.

I faked the calm, cool mom when dropping off my screaming child, but I was barely out of the driveway before she calmed down and participated in class. I think she wanted me to know I was important. I think she felt guilty for having fun without me. I felt awful, but her daycare/school was great for giving me a reassuring call a half hour after drop-off letting me know what she was up to and how quickly she adjusted.

It is scary for Mia. Your calm bravery helps her know how to respond. She doesn't know you are faking it.

My heart is breaking for you. I can only imagine how tough this has all been. I thought things were settling down a bit.

Maybe, I'm off-base here, but I feel asking her why she's so upset might help. It is being away from you, Owen or the mere change in her routine?

My child craves routine. Anything out of the ordinary, he wants me to remind him about days ahead of time, again that morning, etc. Maybe a calendar with a schedule would make things easier.

I know it sounds horrible, but just drop her at the door and leave as quickly as possible. I taught pre-school for 4 years, and the parents that hung around made it worse on thier kids, not to mention the other kids and the teachers. The kids whose parents left with a quick kiss and a "see ya later," adapted much better. They may have been upset for a few minutes, but it never lasted long.

Eventually, she'll love going to school.

Good Luck!!

I love all the suggestions of drop off that are above, but it sounds like the morning before you even get in the car is the problem. I know it's only been a few times to preschool but has she made any friends? Anyone from school you could set up a play date with outside of school time? Maybe knowing that friend x, y or z will be around to play with her at preschool would help.

And definitely ask her (when she's not bawling her eyes out) why she doesn't like preschool. The kids in my class give a straight answer 99% of the time...as long as it's not in the moment of distress.

I'll check our book stocks at school in the next few days and see if I can think of any other good book options that might help.

Good Luck, it really will get easier.

We had a similar problem when my son started pre-school and Em's solution is what worked for us. Children often respond differently with other adults.. Daddy, Grandma, Aunt Jan, etc. After enduring weeks of sobbing and fit throwing, I had my husband and even parents, drive him to school and the behavior stopped. It was like he somehow thought crying and throwing a tantrum would work on me so that I'd change my mind and take him home with me, but he didn't dare try it with Daddy and Grand Parents or Aunt Jan. As his primary [meaning the person he is with the most] caretaker, he knew me the best and what might work to get what he wanted. Truth be told, Daddy and other members of the preschool chauffeur's club would have been just as heartbroken as I was had he tried it with them. After a about 8 days or so, I took dropped him off and he was fine.

Some things that helped stopp the sobbing while getting dressed: Allowing him to pick a book or toy to take with him to school, picking his own snacks to take and sometimes allowing him to pick a small "treat" as a reward for good behavior during our morning "getting dressed ritual". These were small items like picking a sticker to put on his shirt, shoe or lunch box, a small plastic dinasaur or some other small inexpensive item. I'm not ashamed to say it.. A little bribery can work wonders! =]

Hang in there and good luck!

The day she doesn't cry she can go to the toystore and pick out any princess thing she wants. Hey, it may not the best parenting method but I'm all about bribery.

Okay, so you know I taught preschool last year, and now I am the ultimate expert, right? :)

Consider the first month or so a total transition period. It's a big change and I promise you she's not the only one in tears. You've gotten some great advice here. Just stay strong and know that she will in all likelihood be skipping down the hall to her classroom soon enough. You're doing a great thing for her! Go you!

Oh break my heart. You have more experience with this than I, Lady's at her first day as I type!! She hasn't seemed to protest going, although she did tell me that Sweetie is not allowed to leave and must stay the entire time, so we'll see how this goes.

My default idea when I'm at a loss is to call the ped. Someone over there must know the magic words? Yes?

Since you know she enjoys being there, I think it would be fine to be a little stern with her about the crying and screaming. Every parent has their limit. Once we know the crying and screaming has become excessive (solely for dramatic effect) we tell them to stop, and that we don't act that way. After that we ignore it for a while and try and turn it into laughing when the "I'm not responding to your scream" time has had its effect.

what Mr. Lady said

exactly
:)

Try to minimize drop off time as much as possible - R will fuss if I hang out too long talking to other moms or teachers, so I drop and run and he is fine! Also with C we've used a check-off chart for every (pick a number) of days that he gets a check, he can get x prize (an ice cream, an extra book read at bedtime, etc). So for Mia you could start small, every time we drop off with no fuss (or get out of the house with no fuss?) she gets an X and can earn a reward? Might help...

Not that I can offer any new advice, as we dealt with the same in preschool, and now in Kindergarten also (ugh)and all the things you are saying/doing are perfectly helpful. The only real remedy is time. My daughter was happy to go to preschool finally in MARCH. It took that long. I don't think Mia will take that long, but give it a month or two. It is hard and they DO have fun- but it is so conflicting for them when they are so young. Good luck, mama.

You have some great suggestions from above. I'll just throw in my 2 cents for ya too. Sorry if its repeat, I didn't read all of them and I am trying to keep my mind off the fact that my blog host is still NOT working!
This is what I would do. Mark a calendar with special stickers or something on the days she goes to school, so she knows its coming and count it down, have her mark the days off on the calendar (this will help in other ways as well as show her when her school days are coming). Explain to her that school is important for learning and that all children go to school. If she is screaming still, you can explain to her that it hurts your feelings when she screams, and ask her how you can make it better before its time to go into the classroom so you both can have a nice time.
If all else fails, have someone else take her, we had to do that with Sissy once. She didn't throw a fit for my mom, but if I would have been there, she would have melted.

Awww, such a hard issue to deal with! Your heart breaks even though you know you're doing the right thing. I've found this to be a recurring theme in parenting! You've got tons of great suggestions and Mia's smart enough to know what she needs, so just talk it out and you'll work it out.

Hugs to both of you!

The Kissing Hand is a good recommendation. I have a few copies of it for some reason. Let me know if you want one. I was going to Freecycle it with a bunch of books soon anyway. It's clear from previous posts that we're in the same neck of the woods.

Also, this may seem obvious, but whatever you do, do not let her miss a day and don't let her see you sweating her crying jags. I have a friend who made the mistake of giving in one morning because she just couldn't take the crying. It got so, so,so much worse! Mia will stop as soon as she realizes that you will always be back on time, that you are confident that she is safe and having fun and that the crying is unconvincing :).

Good luck! Those days are tough, but you will get through!

My 2 1/2 yo son is in full time daycare. Every day I do the drop off and daddy does the pick up. I'm the bad guy, daddy's the hero. It SUCKS. But I've found that talking it up ("Is today dancing-with-miss-Jenny day?" "Do you know that I packed PUDDING in your lunch?") as well as routine helps. It takes me like, a half hour some days to drop him off but I would rather do that then hear him scream and cry. The pre-school is all about the quick drop off but they indulge parents like me who just can't do it. Sometimes, sending a "friend" (like a stuffed animal or, god forbid, a princess for Mia) helps too. He went through periods at about 16 months and 2 years where he just hated being left at daycare. He's in a good patch now but he still clings like a monkey sometimes - physically - as I leave. I think he likes the extra attention of the teachers in class when I go. He's a spoiled one, my guy. Nothing wrong with that at this young age. An infant room teacher once told me that kids take their cues from us and that if we are sad leaving them, they think school is a scary place. So I put my best smile on (and sometimes have to run like hell out the door so he doesn't see that I'm faking it) and act bright for him so that daycare is a "safe" and "fun" place. It's hard, mama, but she WILL LOVE IT eventually.

well, without being there/being you, it's difficult to tell for sure whether this is a 'true trauma get me out of here now' situation,

or a 'I'm VERY assertive' situation where you can carry on being reassuring and behaving like pre-school is COMPLETELY NORMAL untill she comes round.

I would GUESS the latter. Btw - never mind the REASON you're screaming, screaming will make your heart race (especially an hour of it) even if, say you're screaming with joy cos you're at a live Backyardigans concert or something.

Whatever you do, if you can at all avoid it, don't take her all the way in to the classroom. And don't let her not go. It only takes one time of her staying home and oh the fight you will have. Just keep going. It's not the first time the teachers have dealt with that, they won't think you're a bad mother. I promise. As a preschool teacher, we've pretty much seen it all before, and once the kid is involved in something, they're fine. But Mom coming in the room makes it HORRIBLE. And Mom giving in just once and the jig is up. She won't go again. The other hints are great too - sometimes it's a backpack, having the preparatory conversation makes a huge difference. Send in a picture of the family she can put in her cubby/locker that she can look at. You're not a bad mommy, but transition can be hard. She'll get there.

It sounds like you're doing everything right Beth. I'm glad she likes it while she is there at least. Sorry that I'm no more help than that.

At our first daycare, they had a routine of the kids pushing their parents out the door (in a funny way, like you would push a car that had stalled). It gave kids a sense of control over the situation. That routine stuck for MM over two daycare moves and each time it spread to the whole school. Posh Place's director says that they're still doing it.

Giving her kisses to put in her pocket is also a good idea. We did that too.

Hi Beth! I didn't read through the other comments to see if anyone said the same, but my daughter also just started (and she has two older sisters as well so I've gone through it before). At back to school night they just told us to keep any explanations short and don't get into with them. Just tell them, dad and I decided you are going to go and it will be fun. Then drop them off, give them a confident & happy look and don't stick around. Otherwise they get the idea you don't really think they can do it. Everyone reacts differently and some kids had to be pried off their mothers anyway so who knows, but this is a great school and I trust the teachers know what they are doing! It works better than the way I did it with my first daughter anyway. (And once when my middle daughter wouldn't go and fought me getting dressed, on their recommendation I took her in her nightgown. She still remembers that.) Good luck.

My mother says I always pitched a fit before leaving and on the way to school. Big tears, big drama, and then I promptly started playing when I got there and had a fabulous time. Big smiles when she would pick me up. She said I eventually got used to it and quit making such a big deal, but would still whimper and pout about having to go. I think I still did that even in college. :) Good luck...

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