29 answers

3 Year Old Cries All Day at Preschool

My 3 year old daughter cries all day in preschool saying that she misses her Mommy. It has been 4 weeks now -(she goes twice a week for 2 1/2 hrs a day), and it's not getting any better. Does anyone have any suggestions? She does not play at recess, just sits by herself with her head down (saying that she misses me and her younger sister) and won't eat the snack or have any juice citing the same reason. The teacher recommended trying to set up a playdate with another little girl in the class but it is so hectic at drop off and pick up with my daughter screaming that I am not able to talk to alot of the other parents. I have spoken to a few but it's so difficult with different schedules, alot have other children they need to pick up or drop off, or work part-time etc. I bought a book called the Kissing Hand about separation from your mother and have read it a few times but it's not really making a difference. I would appreciate any suggestions on making this easier on her including any books or dvds about being away from mom. I don't want to take her out of school because I am afraid that she will think she 'won' and can get out of school next year too if she cries long enough. When I ask her she says that she likes school and her teacher, but she wants me to be there with her. One of our neighbors (a boy) is in the class too, so she does know one child there. Please help, I feel so bad for her! I am home with her and her younger (1 1/2 yr old) sister and have never left them. They have been babysat by close family a few times but never anyone else so this is a totally new experience for her.

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So What Happened?™

My daughter is doing much better in school! I'm really glad we did not take her out. She still cries a little just when I drop her off, but she stops before I even leave the building. She is really enjoying it, but still struggles when there is any change to the routine, like raining days when they don't go out to play, holiday parties etc. She even plays at recess now too. I was able to coordinate one playdate with another Mom (who asked ME - I think the teacher may have put her up to it :)) I have also started packing lunches on nice days and we stay after school to play on the playground and a few other moms have followed suit.. My daughter actually asked the other day if she could go to school now- about 1/2 early! Thanks for all of the suggestions- I think she just needed time to get used to it and realize that Mommy also comes back to get her!

Featured Answers

Hi T.,

I agree with many of the posters here that she may simply not be ready. If she can have another year at home, she may be ready and then love school (not necessarily---some are not even ready at 5 or 6). If she must continue going now, even though she's miserable, she may never enjoy going to school. Because of the early negativity association with school, she may always see it as this horrible thing she must do. So, I'd say if not something you must do for work, then give it some more time. You're not giving in; just being considerate of her feelings. We all need that from time to time.

Blessings,
K.
www.joysulconnections.net

2 moms found this helpful

She's not ready. It's not about "winning." Maybe stop, then let her try again in a few months. Or, why don't you stay with her till she's ready for you to leave--maybe it will take weeks, maybe you can just leave for a few minutes at a time at first, until she feels more confident.

Lots of great inisight here already, but one other suggestion . . . Ask the teacher for a quick run-down of what they did that day and what they will do the next day (can be on paper if neither the teacher or you have the oppotunity to chat each day). That way you can talk or role-play specific activities to get her excited about what she'll be doing . . .

More Answers

Hi T.,

I agree with many of the posters here that she may simply not be ready. If she can have another year at home, she may be ready and then love school (not necessarily---some are not even ready at 5 or 6). If she must continue going now, even though she's miserable, she may never enjoy going to school. Because of the early negativity association with school, she may always see it as this horrible thing she must do. So, I'd say if not something you must do for work, then give it some more time. You're not giving in; just being considerate of her feelings. We all need that from time to time.

Blessings,
K.
www.joysulconnections.net

2 moms found this helpful

I understand completely! My then 2 year old had a horrible time at her first preschool, and although she stopped crying, she was withdrawn and never did "come around" to the experience. I took her out after a few months when I realized the teachers were absolutely not helping matters and in fact, were contributing to the problem and I was afraid they were going to make her hate school forever. I think taking her out was the absolute best thing I ever did. Instead of formal school, I started actively seeking playdates, we did music class and little gym class together every week and zoo classes and library programs occasionally. These helped, although honestly I just think she wasn't ready. I would encourage you to trust your instinct. In my case, I don't think the teachers were helpful, I think they actually caused more harm because they didn't understand why my daughter didn't "come around." If your teachers are supportive and warm and nurturing, then I would suggest trying the playdate thing, doing lots of things with other kids and coaching her on how to make friends. I would also try the cute ideas mentioned, like the necklace idea. One thing that worked well with my child when she went back to school as a 3 year old (and incidentally, she did well once she was ready, just a few times when she got sad and said she missed me) was getting a cheap little photo album and putting pictures in it of her and her family. I also chose a different school that I knew was top notch and extremely understanding and nurturing. Good luck--I honestly think the problem might simply be that your daughter is not ready and THAT IS OKAY! I think parents today expect a lot of their very young children and we have to remember they are just 2, 3, or 4 years old! They are supposed to want their mommies!!

2 moms found this helpful

I'm a SAHM have a 4 year old son and made the decision not to put him in preschool at 3 years old. He reacted the same way whenever he was separated from me and I decided it wasn't worth it. He is in preschool now that he is 4 and he is doing great. I don't think keeping him home one more year has hurt him in any way. He just wasn't ready.

Is there a Mommy & Me program available in your area? You could participate with her and she might feel more comfortable.

Good luck :)

2 moms found this helpful

Hi T.,

I don't know your situation but if you can be home with her maybe she is just not ready for that type of experience right now. If you continue working with her at home on going to school and then maybe enjoying some fun time together when she gets home she might start warming up to the idea. Then maybe next year or even by winter time, if your school will allow you to enter half year, she might just be more comfortable with the whole idea. I hope that helps a litle bit.

D.

1 mom found this helpful

Pre-school is highly over-rated. If she's really not enjoying it...keep her home with you. There are plenty of battles you must win, but pre-school isn't one of them. If she needs/wants the security of mom at 3, so what?

1 mom found this helpful

What concerns me is that from what you are saying she never "comes around" during the class. My son cried EVERY DAY at dropoff the whole year for his 3 year old program. But as soon as I left and class started he was totally fine and really enjoyed it. From what I understand this is how it usually happens. For your daughter to stay by herself, not play or do snack I think that is a problem. I would probably try the playdate setup and see if making a few friends helps. Also, make sure that you are not playing into her emotions by "talking" her into it. The more matter of fact you can be the better.

Truthfully though....I think you should probably take her out. Sounds like she may just not be ready. My son cried for half the year in the 4 year old program too. So much that they suggested delaying Kindergarten. Well-all of the sudden he stopped. Just stopped! From that day on he seperated from me with no problem whatsoever. He is now in Kindergarten and there has never been a single issue. He happily leaves every day. All kids develop at their own pace and I think we need to be sensitive to this. I worry that you may be harming her in the long run by keeping her in the program.

One more thing: Maybe it is the wrong preschool for her. I would talk to other parents and find out the experience they are having there. They are not all the same.

1 mom found this helpful

She's only 3. In the big picture of things preschool at 3 is not important. Maybe she's just not ready yet. That is not bad, just is. If it were me, I'd pull her out and try next year. Use the year to get her prepped - join a mom's group or find ways for her to interact with kids her own age more.

1 mom found this helpful

I'm sorry! I know this is very hard. I've seen 2 things that have helped kids in this situation. One little girl has a necklace her Mom made for her. She has not taken it off since she got it (when she was 3, she's 5 now). Whenever she missed her Mom, she'd just hold onto the necklace. It helped her a lot. They actually sell Mother / Daughter necklaces and bracelets at some places. Then you could both be wearing them when you are separated. Do a google search on it and you'll find lots of things, I'm sure.

The other one was just recently. A little boy in my son's class was having a terrible time at preschool. He missed his Mom so much. Their neighbor is a child psychologist and he suggested giving him one of those keychains with digital pictures on it. They bought one and loaded it with pictures of family. He's been fine ever since. He just takes it out and looks at it when he misses his Mom. The teacher also told him he could have a hug ANY time he wanted one, and that helped him some too. She let him know that she is a mother also, and that she loves to give hugs.

Good luck!! It is so hard to leave your child when you know they are crying. I've been there many times, and I often cried too when I walked away. I hope you figure out something soon that helps your daughter.

1 mom found this helpful

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