21 Month Old Has Stranger Anxiety

Updated on December 30, 2008
E.M. asks from Frisco, TX
5 answers

My question concerns my 21 month old son and the church nursery. My husband and I enjoy attending church services, but since the birth of my son, we have hardly visited our church at all. It is just such an ordeal because my son has stranger anxiety and does not like to be left in the nursery at our church. I am not sure exactly how I feel about the nursery either and that is why I want someone else's feedback.
My main 2 concerns are my son and his anxiety to be left with people he does not know and two, I am not sure just how clean the nursery really is. Our church has 4 services each week and I know for a fact that the toys are not sanitized between each service, but I believe they are cleaned once a week. Just from what I have observed, the nursery does not appear to be as clean as it could be. I feel for my son because the last time we left him in the nursery, he was there with 8 other babies under 2 and just one caregiver. Shouldn't there have been more help? He was never offered any of his water or snacks and I can understand why, the caregiver had her hands full. But I hate that my son just isn't having fun.
Am I overreacting or do you think these are valid concerns. I know everyone is different but I guess I just want to know how others feel about it.

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answers from Dallas on

I think that the ratio issue is definitely a valid concern. However, I think that you may be a bit overprotective! (sorry!) But,could his stranger anxiety have something to do with the fact that he isn't exposed to much?

There really is no way that they could sanitize all the toys after each service, and honestly - germs are everywhere! You can't protect your child from everything because when he finally DOES go out into the world he will get sick all the time and be in culture shock!

I would consider enrolling him in a preschool part time to try to help him with his anxiety so that when he starts school he will be able to learn and not have to spend the first year learning that he DOES have to deal with other people in life!

I am not saying this to be mean, I promise. I am saying it because I am a teacher and I SEE the results of so many children who are babied and overprotected. They are WAY behind their peers emotionally and it takes me at least 1/2 the year to get them to understand that school is NOT home - they DO have to follow rules.

I know it is really hard to leave him, but for his own good do so (maybe somewhere besides the nursery at your church though, b/c they do sound too full for one person). And as for the snacks - he can go an hour or so without drinks and snacks! He will be fine!

Don't let YOUR anxieties take over what is best for him! I say this out of kindness, not anything else!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I would be concerned about the ratio. Our church has one Staff teacher and then two parent helpers, and sometimes a teen helper as well. That is for a class of about 8 kids.

The issue with cleaning is different, think of that this way...let's say the do sanitize between services, your son could easily walk over and take a toy that another child has just chewed on and put it in his mouth, even though it was cleaned before his class by the time he gets the toy it may be "dirty" again. So cleaning between services may not offer you the "clean" you are really looking for.

Have you thought about volunteering in your church nursery? This would allow you to be in there with your son and really see how things work. Maybe do that for a few weeks so he is comfortable with his surroundings, then make your decision whether you want to try to leave him so you can go to service.

Or, maybe you should look for a different church that is more dedicated to great quality child care.

We love our church and I would never even think twice about leaving my kids. My daughter is 4 and my son is 17 months. We started our church when my daughter was 22 months and my son has been in nursery since he was about 4 months old.

Good luck!



answers from Dallas on

I have to disagree what the last person said (sorry). You should absolutely be worried about the ratio of children. The law states in a regular daycare that for children 2 years of age, there has to be at least two caregivers per 8 kids. It's the law. But just as upsetting is your angel's separation anxiety. My 21-month-old son has the same issues and it's heartbreaking. We too don't go to church unless one of the grandparents or friends can watch him on Sunday mornings. Our little people experience so many new things daily that they need to process and learn how to handle; I just can't bring myself to put my sweet angel in one more situation that he is scared. One of our visits, he ended up just standing in the corner crying for the bulk of the time we were in church. I was upset that they didn't call us and when I asked why, they said that he stopped a few times, so they didn't want to bother us. It's tough for them because it's only once a week, so they forget where they are each week. My husband and I decided that we would just wait a while and try again when he is a bit older. I truly believe that God will understand that you are protecting your sweet angel.



answers from Dallas on

If it is important to you to attend, then maybe you can go to one service and have you husband attend another time. I personally would not leave my child in a church nursery. These facilities are not regulated like daycares. The care provider does not have to be licensed and in many cases is just a member of the church.



answers from Dallas on

I don't know about the clenliness concern, as it can often be a personal issue ;) - some people can tolerate more than others.

The caregiver to child ratio IS a valid concern. They ARE understaffed and need to address that; I'm not sure if it's a legal issue, but they could get in trouble if something happens as a result of the understaffing. For example, at Adventure Kids Playcare in the infant room (18mos and younger), the ratio is 4 infants to 1 caregiver. As soon as a 5th child comes in, another caregiver is added. I did a working interview there, and that's about as many infants as 1 person can deal with effectively.

You may want to look into what the state law is re. that so you can go to them - I'd do it as a caring and concerned parent - because they may be ignorant of the issue as it's not a "real" day care. Better safe than sorry.

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