Anxiety About Kindergarten

Updated on July 31, 2008
L.Q. asks from King George, VA
41 answers

My 4 year old daughter will turn 5 years old this month. She has never been in a daycare setting. Although we tried many times over the years, she had severe separation anxiety and I didn't see it necessary, as I worked from home anyway. Another factor, regarding pre-school, is that we couldn't really afford the prices in our area (Where we lived the price was around $165 to $200/week for the good pre-schools). In an attempt to get her interested in kindergarten, we enrolled her into a church pre-school this summer, close to where we live. I went with her for "play time" several times - 30 minute intervals 3 days a week - before leaving her for the first day. She was Ok during these play times, but very nervous and shy. She didn't play at all, but stayed with me. She did seem interested in playing and was smiling at times. The first day I left her was for 2 hours and she seemed to do fine. She cried when
I left but was smiling when I picked her up. The second day that I left her was for 4 hours and during this 4 hours she was very unhappy. The director told me that she didn't eat, drink, or even want to go to the bathroom. Upon returning for the third day, the director met me at the door (where my daughter was trying to escape and was crying) and she told me that my daughter "is not ready". She expected that we leave and did not want my daughter to try any further. She said that when she is not with me she just "shut down" and didn't want to eat, drink, etc. She said that we should have tried this 2 years ago. I told her that I did try this 2 years ago and that it was a disaster. She replied that NOW it is a disaster. She suggested that in kindergarten they would have counselors that could help my daughter with any distress or anxiety. I decided to talk to my daughter's doctor about the situation and he said that she "needs to get over it!". This may be true but I feel guilty because I feel that it is my fault because I didn't have her in preschool or daycare before this point. We really just could not afford it. I have become so distressed and feel so guilty that I have considered home schooling her. The problem is that I simply do not have time, as I am running a business from my home and am re-turning to college to finish my degree in the Fall. If anyone has any suggestions, I would greatly appreciate it. I can hardly sleep at night as the time comes closer for her to start kindergarten. I need to go get her registered this week and I dread taking my daughter to even visit, as she gets so nervous whenever we mentioned going to school.

A little about me:

I am a stay at home mom, who works from home. I have a 6 month old daughter and a 4 year old, turning 5 this month.

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So What Happened?

I wanted to thank everyone once more for all the responses. I had initially decided to give it kindergarten a try, but then I found out that it is a full day here (8 am to 3 pm or 9 am to 3pm). After some real soul searching and after reading some wonderful responses from some other home schooling mothers, I have decided to home school at least the first or second year. I know that many people do not agree with this, but I feel that it is the right decision for her. Just wanted to update my initial "So What Happened?". Thanks again to all.

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A.C.

answers from Washington DC on

Try researching a "Cooperative" school setting. I found one in AAco. for preschool and was thrilled with it. There has to be one around that has a kindergarten program. Lower costs in leiu of parental support/interaction/involvement. You end up having a more supportive & kind environment- especially in the separation anxiety department. I am actually the one getting ready for my own separation anxiety sending my 5yo to public Kindergarten now! The so called system is really screwy now, if you ask me. Even at 5- they are babies! All day in a foreign setting is just too much, no matter how much you prepare them. It's sad that parents are 'forced' to enroll these babies in preschool programs just to prepare them, when not so long ago- that is exactly what Kindergarten was for! To guide and prep them for grade school.

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J.P.

answers from Norfolk on

I am sorry you had that unfortunate experience. I am very surprised that the director was so negative. Especially after just three days. A lot of kids have trouble adjusting to preschool and kindergarten, it takes time. Most preschools that I have heard of say it can take a week or two for some to get into the swing of things. My son "shuts down" when in a new situation as well. Given time and patience he will "get over it" and join but it can't be forced. It sounds like this "director" is overextended and impatient. Three days is not enough time. Also, if the director was so unkind to you she may have been a large part of why your daughter had a hard time. She certainly doesn't seem very nurturing in your description. I would try and find a different group, one that is understanding of your daughter's difficulty and apprehension. You might try to find a vacation bible school to take her to for a week this summer. Some will allow you to stay for a while until she is comfortable (the whole time if necessary). That way she can be less concerned with being "left" somewhere and she may find it fun to be a part of the activities. I only put my son in one year of preschool even with his shyness and he is doing very well and loves school. He had a very supportive teacher and director and I believe that made all the difference. Please don't allow that one person to make you doubt yourself. She seems to be the one with the problem. Good luck and take care

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S.O.

answers from Washington DC on

I think you have the wrong preschool, that's the problem, not YOU! That director sounds like a real peach! Or rather, a prune! If she has never seen this reaction before then this is either her first job or she kicks out a LOT of kids. There are things you can do to contribute to your daughter's successful separation, and it sounds like she was making a good adjustment before you were made to leave for as long as you did. Find another preschool where they will work with you more patiently and supportively, that's my suggestion. Not all preschools are created equal! Also, don't be afraid to ask about scholarships or financial support, a lot of preschools do offer some kind of financial aid. Good luck and don't let that witch get you down!

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J.H.

answers from Washington DC on

It's hard to transition sometimes. But our childen are smart and can pick upon things. When I started the sleep training and it got hard I felt guilty. When it was my husbands night it went well. He said he just puts him to bed. I think my son was picking up the fact that I felt guilty and would love to cuddle him a little more. Every child has to go to school. Unless you home school. Some kids love school and some kids could care less. In kindergarten they do introduce the program great. One 1/2 of the week you go in the AM and the other half they go in the PM and then a full day the last day. I think it's a great transition. I think you need to start talikg positive things to her. Get her excited and not tell a soul she is nervus. Buil it up to be some fun place to be. She gets to get all these supplies and so on. I'll say a prayer right now for you guys!

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S.J.

answers from Charlottesville on

Layla,
Hang in there. I am a Kindergarten teacher and I see this every year. During open house or meet the teacher night (before school starts) make sure to let the teacher and school counselors be aware of the situation. You may want to set up a time to talk to the teacher before the school year starts since it is often hard for the teacher to give you individual attention at open house. You may want to give your child a tour of the school before it opens so that she is familar with the school (and you can also take pictures and make a book if that gets her excited - plus she can show it off to family and they can get excited with her). There are TONS for books about starting Kindergarten and those would be a good place to start preparing her emotionally. Try reading the Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn, it is about a racoon going off to school and how he handles being away from her using his "kissing hand". You and your child can develop you own "kissing hand". I agree with many other posts about getting to know other children that may be in her class. I know that at some schools you can request that your child be in a class with another child so that the transition goes smoother. If your school stagger starts (where 1/3 of the class goes one day and then stays home a day or two for the rest of the kids to start, you may want to request that she come on the last day of stagger start so that she doesn't go one day and then stay home with you for several days). Also, stay strong when you drop her off or put her on the bus because she is looking to you for clues about how she should feel about this situation. If she cries give her a hug and then go. I know it sounds heartless but the longer parents hang out the longer the tears continue to flow. When she gets home play it up about how much fun she had. I know that I call parents during the first day of school (while the kids are in gym, art, etc...) and let them know how the day is going. You could request this of your child's teacher or counselor. I know that with some kids we make a chart and if they come into class without crying and try hard to be a part of the group we mark it on their chart. Rewards are decided on by child and parent. I want you to hang in there and 99% of kids are fine within several weeks of starting school. If you have any questions feel free to email me: [email protected]____.com.

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T.Y.

answers from Washington DC on

First of all, you are a caring mom who really wants the best for her kids, so give yourself a pat on the back and try not to feel guilty. Secondly, maybe your daughter will do better if she is eased into it. For instance, is there a co-operative preschool/kindergarten near you that will allow you to volunteer in her classroom while she goes to school? You might be able to do all your volunteer hours during the first month or so of school. Or you could sign her up for co-op summer camps to help her adjust by the fall, or other short summer camps and then ask if you could volunteer for part of it. Another option is you could talk to the school when you sign her up for kindergarten and explain your concern, ask if you could volunteer during the first few days. I think the school might want to work with you to help. Explore the options. Schools should know and understand that some kids don't do as well with being left, and hopefully they have some ideas for you. Good luck!

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S.C.

answers from Norfolk on

I would not feel guilty about this. Different kids develop at different rates. I would homeschool her for Kindergarten. It takes a lot less time than you would think and it will give her some extra time to adjust. In the mean time I would look for easy opportunities to adjust her to being away from you over the next year. IF you don't attend a church you might look for one with a well run children's program and then try to gradually work her into it. that would only be an hour once a week to start. I would not want t send her to a public school to be labeled by a counselor. Some kids are just more shy than others and need more time to adjust to social stiuations

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I.H.

answers from Washington DC on

I would register your daughter for K, talk to a school counselor to see if they can help (I would not count on them though). Then there is also fairfax county program called Child Find (http://www.fcps.edu/ss/preschool/childfind/screening.htm) They are huge help. (if you live in Arlington county there is a simular program. call fairfax county and they will give you arlington country child find phone number) And they are free of charge but with lots of paper work. They also provide a local preschool for free if you child needs help. They also work with your local school in order to help your child. I had many moms that got help from them. Some children did not even need much help but Fairfax country will do screening and decide if your child needs help. Then I would try to find a girl/girls in neighoborhood (by going to the local park or a local library) who will be going to the same school. I would arrange play dates with them after your daughter meets with them a few times at the park. You daughter needs a friend to be with her at the school so she feels safe just like when my son first went to a day care he had his staff animal with him (my son is 1.5 years old). The staff animal was a piece of his home that made him feel safe. I hope it helps. What area do you live in? If you live in vienna, VA there is Vienna moms club that I highly recomend.

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C.F.

answers from Washington DC on

I think you're right to take it seriously. Yes, she will "get over it" but I don't like thinking of it that way. Maybe try a friend who would be willing to help you, and try leaving her for really short periods of time (lie 10-15 minutes even) and do it as often as possible. Also, ask your school for a list of kids in your area who will be going to your school so your daughter can meet some of them. It may be easier if she has a friend to meet. Anyone can learn to do anything if given enough time and opportunity. That is all she needs too. I gave my daughter a necklace of mine to where while we were apart so she would feel closer to me. You could also try those matching "best friends" necklaces too. I left her notes and pictures in her coat pockets as well. And I promised her treats at the end of the day - going out for ice cream, at home popcorn movie night, stuff that she liked. I told her it was okay to cry, but she had to stay. The teacher gave her extra hugs - I let her know she was struggling. She is in 3rd grade now and doing beautifully. I guess my point is, don't give up! Now is the time to tackle it. It will get worse and she gets older. Patience, love, time and sticking to the plan will get you through. Go register, and go back to the school as often as possible. It's only scary while it's "unknown". Good luck. :)

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N.B.

answers from Washington DC on

Layla,

I would suggest calling the school where your daughter is to attend kindergarten and ask to talk to the school psychologist about your concerns. Some schools even do a kindergarten "camp" for a bit before school starts for the kids who are super shy or nervous. I am sure your little one is not the first they have experienced like this. Ask if the school psychologist has any suggestions as to what you can do, what class would she be best in...things like that. See how often you can take her to school (I would take her a bunch, just to walk around and become familiar with the space), take her to the kindergarten playground so she is familiar with the equipment. Ask the school if they can think of another parent (who is a nice person) who has a child entering kindergarten and would the school be willing to call the parent (they probably won't give you the number) or forward an email from you about setting up some playdates with that other child (or a couple of kids, someone who is going to be in her class). If she knows some of the children in her class, she may be less anxious when school starts. If you have friends that you do playdates with now, see if you can start leaving her for intervals with your friend. (Offer to do the reverse.) Start with just driving around the block, and work up to longer trips. Hire a babysitter during the day. I say give school a shot, work with the professionals there, and give your sweet little girl some time. If school is tough at first, don't bail our right away. Remember, it takes 21 days to form a habit (that is 21 school days, which is longer than 3 weeks). Ask the school to evaluate her skills to make sure that she is ready for kindergarten. The last thing to remember is that you (as a parent) have the right to hold her back a year. Maybe she isn't ready...there is being ready academically, and being ready socially.

Good luck (sorry if this is rather jumbled)

N.

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S.M.

answers from Washington DC on

I am sorry for your situation, I would be a wreck if my daughter was acting this way, so I sympathize greatly. However, I do think, for the most part, kids are hardier than we think, and she probably will adjust (slowly) do just fine.

The main point I have for you is that you should absolutley NOT feel bad about your daughter not going to preschool or daycare. For crying out loud - kids don't need preschool! Your child sounds sensitive and shy. You and she need some strategies for transitioning her and not bullying from anyone about how to do it - including a daycare director or a pediatrician. They both are acting very unprofessionally. Don't let anyone make you feel like you have done the wrong thing for your child by not putting her in some group setting.

First, I would seek out a new pediatrician who is helpful. Second, I would contact the school where your child will be attneding and ask to set up a meeting (even by phone) to discuss your concerns with her new kindergarten teacher or the staff counselor. It could be a matter of needing some coping skills. There is of course a chance that she has extreme ancxiety that needs professional help, but I would thank that is very unlikely. Worst case, she needs to delay one year - many very bright happy kids do that.

1) I would get her into a playgroup with kids her age and slightly older who can model good behavior in terms of seperating from a parent (that is not 2-3 year olds).

2) Work on encouraging her independence = "I can do it myself " attitude. Make sure you let her dress herself, fix her own snacks, play independent of you.

3) Talk about kindergarten, and get some books on the subject. Make a big shopping trip to go get a bookbag and some clothes.

4) Tell her how you will be spending her first day at kindergarten - "After I drop you off, I will..." Make it very concrete so she can really imagine that you are coming back for her and when.

5) See if you can have a meeting with the teacher this summer and let her visit the classroom.

I did not go to preschool, and I was very shy. I cried my first day of school. But I loved school and ended up with Ph.D, so please don't dread the worst.

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C.G.

answers from Washington DC on

I would try a different school. Where I work the teachers would never give up so quickly. Does your daughter have any friends she plays with? Could they enroll in the summer program together? How many teachers were at that program? We have 2-3 for all our preschool programs and we always have several kids with adjustment issues but I can't recall a child leaving because they weren't ready. We are a small private school though with degreed teachers so perhaps they have more child psychology expereience plus our preschool teachers have been teaching for 10-25 years and our director comes from a preschool background. I was worried about my son for behavioral reasons but they told me not to worry, he would be fine, they can handle it. I think you just need to find a different program that your daughter is more comfortable in-take tours and see which appeals to her the most-and talk to the teachers about adjustment methods that they use. I'm sure you'll find one that's a good fit.

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P.A.

answers from Richmond on

Part of the problem may be that she doesn't know what to do or what to expect while there and is frightened of having to depend on people she doesn't know for everything. Part of it may be that she is picking up on your anxiety since you are expecting a meltdown in these situations. Maybe letting her have some control will help: taking cookies to share with a friends children while you leave for a time; letting her take her favorite doll so she will have a 'friend' with her and not be alone; if she has a friend nearby, having the two of them go to library storytime, or a church group activity together. I'll definitely keep you in my prayers.

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N.F.

answers from Washington DC on

My son ,who is now 24 yrs old, had the same issues. I berated myself for years about how I, no matter his reaction, made him go to school ( because I had to work). So stop guilt tripping yourself. This is your child's personality, not something you did or did not do.

My son's daycare providers all had some story to tell about his reactions. Eventually he would function fine it just took forever. One example ;when he was 10 months old and in daycare he would whine constantly unless carried around. His daycare provider was very exasperated but he did grow out of it.

In first grade he NEVER ate until I picked him up in afterschool care at 5pm. His first move ,when I got there, was to grab his lunch and wolf it down because he was so hungry.

I would recommend taking your daughter to visit the school many times before she starts. Even though she is nervous about it now she will be A LOT more nervous about it if you don't take her at all.

Since she is old enough to talk and understand you should have a series of conversations about the school and about her anxiety and ways she can deal with it. It will help if you visit the school and while you visit point out things she might like to do.

She somehow needs to stop missing you and engage with what is happening there so she can forget you for a bit.

Visiting and engaging with her teachers, both of you being there and watching and your pointing out things she might like will certainly help.

I was a sensitive child with insensitive parents. It really helped for teachers to engage me even though I was withdrawn.
It got me over my fear of the situation by engaging me rather than letting me stew in my fear. On the other hand it cannot be overbearing and aggressive- there has to be some sensitivity to the student's personality too.

The pediatrician saying something like "get over it" was stupid and unprofessional.

Let me know how things go.

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L.R.

answers from Washington DC on

Please consider the postings here advising you to at least consider waiting a year.

Also, please be aware that these days, kindergarten is a lot more like first grade was when most of us were kids--a LOT more will be expected academically of your daughter than you realize, and if she is also struggling with separation and social anxiety at the same time, she will have problems academically and that will add to her frustration.

But Layla, if you keep her out of kindergarten for another year, please send her to some form of preschool--I know money is an issue, but can you revisit finances somehow? Talk to people at your church or a mom's group or anywhere for advice about other preschools than the ones you're aware of? If money is a really big problem, some preschools might have scholarships available.

Homeschooling is fine but in this particular case won't help her with the issue of social and separation anxieties. She needs to be in an organized, friendly, school-like setting away from you; she needs to learn about being with other kids and adults, being on someone else's routine and not her own/home routine, following directions from someone other than you, and most of all, realizing that the school day ends with mom always being there for her so it's OK to leave mom the next time. Better to struggle with these basics in a preschool than in kindergarten, where the teachers have a lot on their plates and are required to get through the academics and may not have as much time to give her individual attention for her separation issues.

If you just must send her to kindergarten this fall, please ask the school right now (not the first day of school!) if there are special services. A friend's daughter got extra services (individual help) in public school for socialization issues and now she's doing great. This may require you to have a counselor or doctor officially diagnose your daughter somehow--I am not sure, but a school counselor should be able to advise you. Good luck.

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K.W.

answers from Richmond on

Poor little thing! I was one of those kids who was terrified to be away from my parents as well. Shame on that daycare director for chastising you for not doing this earlier! She should be more supportive. That's her job after all! I am a former day care worker and have taught Head Start. That inconsiderate woman should have encouraged you to keep bringing your daughter to the center for a couple of hours a day to help you get her used to it. My son was also very close to Mommy when I started him in daycare at 13 months old. Poor little guy used to just cry and cry and cry from the time I took him to his class till I picked him up. I worked right down the hall, so I heard every heartbreaking second of it. After about 2 weeks they hired a new person for that particular room and she understood that he was just scared and she spent a lot of extra time cuddling and talking to him. The other kids were playing and she would let him curl up in her lap and just watch. When he got ready to play he'd get down and play but he knew she was right there. By the time kindergarden rolled around he was thrilled to go!

Are there any families in your area with kids your daughter's age? Maybe you could set up a play date with some other mom's and their kids so that when she goes to kindergarden she already knows some other kids. What about the schoolbus? Is she excited about the schoolbus? Pick one thing that really excites her about kindergarden and focus on that. It'll be something positive for her to look forward to.

Don't feel guilty at all about the situation! You haven't done anything wrong!!! It's a shame how society makes mothers feel guilty about everything! If you worked out of the home they'd make you feel guilty about not being there, and now you feel guilty because you have been there!

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C.W.

answers from Washington DC on

Layla - When we were kids, no one went to pre-school and it was much less common that kids went to daycare. Further, kindergarten was 1/2 day. I can remember going to "safety town" when I was four -- it was the first school experience I had away from home. It was only a couple of hours a day for a few weeks -- I was so shy and scared. I can remember with absolute clarity not wanting to go into that classroom and crying and begging my mom not to leave.

I absolutely hate it when people tell me that my kid will just need to "get over it". I mean, utlimately that is basically true - but every child is different and that sort of transition is much more difficult for some children than others.

Some people might suggest you consider waiting another year before you send your child to kindergarten. I think this is becoming more and more common - especially for kids that turn 5 the summer before kindergarten. My friend is considering this with her child because he is still having potty issues and he is very tiny for his age. Another option is to go up to the school now and talk with the principal and other staff and get their suggestions. You might be able to take your daughter on a tour or meet with her counselor or correspond with her teacher before school starts. Get books from the library about starting kindergarten - there are a ton of them - or even movies. If you know other kids in the neighborhood that are going to kindergarten, try to get your daughter together for a few play outings. Some places have summer sports and you can request to have your kid on a team with kids that will be at your school/in your class (CYA sports in Chantilly does this).

In any event, try not to show your own anxiety to your child as this will most certainly not help the situation. From a parent of a 7 year old (going into second grade) and a boy who will enter kindergarten this fall also -- best of luck!

CW

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L.C.

answers from Washington DC on

Since you are running out of time, I suggest finding some craft or swimming lessons in which you can enroll her. They are a short time and the time she will be there is scheduled. It might be that this "pre-school" situation is not structured enough for her and the free time is over whelming. I know there are also dance studios that offer week long camps that are mornings only like 9-12. They are terrific! Try something like that.

Hire a mother's helper to come in a couple mornings a week to take her and play with her while you work. Tell her that you will be very busy and she has to stay with the helper. It's not quite the same, but it will give her the sense of what will be happening while she is in school.

Take her to school and register her. Let her see the school. Take her on a tour. You might get lucky and the teachers will be there. I would talk about school until you are purple! Tell her all the great things she will do and learn. Then I'd hit the library for books about school. Let me tell you, that kid should want to go to school to get away from your incessant talking about school!! LOL!

The other thing is this - she reads your body language. She knows you really don't want her to go to school. She knows that you are anxious about school. You've got to make her understand that school is not an option and that you want her to go.

Stop feeling guilty. A friend of mine had the some of the same issues. As soon as she stopped worrying that her kid was off to school and that she wasn't ready, the kid was fine. You need to believe that your child is ready and will do fine. They read you... they are smart...

Speak with the principal at the school when you register. Tell her of your concerns. They will make a note of it and have someone meet the bus.

Good luck!
LBC

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J.F.

answers from Richmond on

Dear Layla,
Have you ever considered homeschooling your daughter? I know you want her socialized, but, with homeschooling, that could come at a later age (in coops and sports) when she is ready.
Blessings!
J. F.

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D.A.

answers from Los Angeles on

Please don't home school her for this reason. It will only delay the fact that she needs to learn to be seperated from you and learn to be in society and in new situations alone. This is not your fault we all do what we feel is best at the time in any situation. I think your preschool should have given your daughter more of a chance but that is in the past. They do have councelors in kindergarten to help your daughter and I am sure she will do fine after an adjustment period. I personally spent the first 2 weeks of school in the "crying room" learing how to deal without my Mom. I also had never been to preschool. I do not remember this but my Mom does. I think this will end up being harder for you than your daughter but things will work out.

Best Wishes!

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T.B.

answers from Norfolk on

Hi Layla,
I am sorry that you had to go through this. I work in day care and this is something that happens. I had children come to my class that would cry the entire time they were there, even if they were being held and cuddled. It takes them time to learn that you will return for them and is typically more heartbreaking for the parents than it is the child. I suggest that if you really want to get her used to being away from you now, that you find another part time program close by your home. I would also suggest that the first visit you make is without her so that you can see how the staff reacts to you and your concerns. Be up front with them and tell them what happened. A good program will tell you that they are experienced with this type of situation and that they will take the time to help your baby girl learn to separate from you.
If you are going to just wait till school starts, I would ask around and see if you can find some children that she will be in school with and make play dates with them. Like someone else said, it might do her some good to have someone her own age to lean on during the first few weeks of school. They will have counselors there, and also the teachers are very well equipped to help the children.
As for what the director at the church preschool said, she was wrong. You did what was best for your family. No one should look down on you for that. That woman should have been more willing to give your daughter a chance to overcome her anxiety as sometimes it can take a few weeks or even a month or so.

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Q.R.

answers from Cumberland on

First of all I doubt she just "needs to gets over it." I'd probably switch doctors. She is still very young. Here where we live often times when kids turn 5 in the summer parents opt to start kindergarten the following year - would this be possible for you? If so maybe you could use this to your advantage. You could tell your daughter that she will not be starting kindergarten school right now if she agrees to go to a preschool for a couple of hours 2 days a week. Explain to her the difference in the time she will be gone by not going to kindergarten. Then gradually move it up to 3 days a week after she gets into the swing of things.

If you must start her in kindergarten because of your work situation I would do the same thing this summer. The teacher should be a bit more sympathetic and understand that the first 2 weeks will be the hardest for you, your daughter and the teacher.

Keep up the good work.
Good luck
~Q.

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K.B.

answers from Washington DC on

Layla,
I got tears in my eyes reading your post. I was going to tell you to homeschool; but as I was reading all your responses it was helping me also to consider other ways of going about it. I think if you can....waiting a year would take alot of pressure off both of you and give you and her more time to prepare. Anyway though ...my 24 yr old was homeschooled and it was VERY easy. The curriculum she followed along herself after she was a little older and when they are younger they only need a couple hrs a day anyway. She did wonderful on her college as well. Even if it is you that needs to regroup on the whole idea I would try to wait till next year. As has been said.."follow your heart". And pray about it :) Here goes another prayer for ya!
K.

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C.D.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi there. We had a similar problem with my nephew but he was in public Kindergarten and used to escape on a daily basis. However, the school was patient and welcomed him each day with open arms. We considered pulling him out of school but the principal encouraged us to leave him in and low and behold, he ended up loving school. Some options might be a private kindergarten. Usually, they are smaller classes with more teachers. Also, look for half day programs. Many schools are now full day programs. The church preschool was NOT correct in asking your child to leave. Preschools must have patience when working with kids with this kind of anxiety. It is not uncommon. you should look for a school willing to work with you and give your daughter 2 to 3 months to adjust (or more). I work as a preschool teacher and I cannot tell you how many bottles of advil I have taken over the years but never once have I given up on a child who had a hard time adjuting. Something to consider is holding her back a year and putting her in a five day a week 1/2 day program for preschool. Make sure she is with kids who will just miss the cut off date for kindergarten. Don't give up and don't let the school give up on her either!! Good Luck!!

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R.L.

answers from Washington DC on

You have been given so much execellent advise that I only have 2 things to add. First you might consider looking into some counseling for your daughter. This is a serious problem and you need to address it. Even if you choose to homeschool she needs to learn to function with out you near. Second start reading her the Kissing Hand, its a cute book all about a little racoon afraid to go to school with his mama.

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K.H.

answers from Dover on

My daughter went through a similar thing (although maybe not as severe at this late of age). She was more like that younger. But when she started full day kindergarten, she had a lot of trouble with it emotionally, being seperating from me for so long. For about the first 2 weeks of school I would pick her up with her in tears everyday! One thing that did end up helping her, was that we sat down together and made two bead necklaces, so that they were exactly the same, with a locket on hers. I wore the bead necklace while she was in school, and she wore the bead necklace with the locket (which had a photo of me and daddy in it). I explained to her that if she was missing me she could touch the necklace to feel closer to me, and that I had the same necklace on. It really worked well for her. Not sure if it will for your daughter, as she seems to have more anxiety about it, but thought I might share just in case it helps.
Good luck!
K.

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C.W.

answers from Washington DC on

This is normal for many children with their first experience being away from mom and dad. With my daughter we went through this when she was 2 and it lasted 6 months! There are still some days that we have to pry her off of us at age 4. There is a little girl in her class, also 4, that was in a similar situation to your daughter. 2 months later and she is still like this. The school is very supportive and helps to separate her and involve her. I think you have the wrong preschool because they are not helping her and they should. My aunt said that both of her girls were fine in preschool and then had problems at the beginning of kindergarten, so you never know when it will strike. My advise would be to get her in as many programs this summer, camp, Little Gym, etc so she is prepared. You may want to check out a preschool that also has a kindergarten in it, as they are smaller and probably more nurturing for her. Have a talk with her Kindergarten teacher and let her know that your daughter is very anxious so she can give her some attention. It will pass in time, but it will be painful for you and her at first, and know that at some age most go through it! If all else fails, you could put her in another year of preschool (find one that will work with you) and delay kindergarten a year, if her birthday is this summer, she won't be that far from most of the kids she starts with (we have a 9/1 turn 5 by deadline in our area). I wouldn't recommend home schooling as I think this will just prolong the problem. Good luck!

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S.R.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi Layla,

Wow, you have gotten some great responses! Such caring moms on this link~ I don't normally write in this but yours was one of the few that caught my attention. I have 3 children, my youngest turned 4 in March. Like you, none of my children have been in preschool and I don't regret any bit of it! I have loved having them home and working with them when I did. After all, play time was "work" for them! Fortunately, both my 2 oldest, now 9 and 7, when they started Kindergarten, half day, they did great, were excited and pumped up to go. Now, although I didn't send any of them to preschool, I took them to MOPS, library, had playdates and dropped them off at my mom's often. I made sure they got out and got involved in different things. I believe that helped. Now my youngest who turned 4 in March has another year before Kindergarten starts and he has, more than the older brothers showed anxiety from separating from me. I have done the same thing but he seems to cling to me more than the others. I know full day Kindergarten is out of the question for him. You might want to look into co-op homeschool, which I am considering, what she does is goes in 2 days a week and the other 3 days, the teachers give you stuff to do at home, which isn't bad idea. Another option is what most ladies have said here, go to the school, meet the principal, teachers, and talk to them, see if they are in agreement with you, passionate and caring about your child. That is important, you need a caring environment to encourage you & your daughter for a nice transition. It may be tough at first, but it will all work out. Another option is to wait a year for her to go to Kindergarten, but if you do that, try to find something that you can get her involved in during the year to be away from you for a consistent routine. I have had many friends who held their child back a year b/c they aren't ready for school, etc. Even 5 year old birthdays in July as well wait a year. I know how you feel and its a hard decision and another big factor is talk about the school, go to the playground, how fun it will be, I did that often with the older boys and they did well~~ whew!! I am a little concerned about my youngest, but keeping eyes out what to do to help him build his confidence in the next year!!

Best of luck and prayers to you,
S.
SAHM of 3 boys, ages 9, 7 and 4~~

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R.H.

answers from Norfolk on

Yes you are correct you should have started this when she was younger and easier to handle she would have adjusted faster and quicker when she was younger. MOST children when they are two or three have separation problems and when they are dealt with grow out of them. In avoiding them and just not including her in these activities you have caused a bigger prob. What i would suggest is to keep sending her to the church as you have, you need to stop avoiding the prob. over time it may take a month of classes she will learn to deal with it. You really don't want to wait until she has to start school to deal with it. You might have to find a church where the instructor is willing to deal with her. If you keep it up she will get better. You don't want her to have to deal with starting kindergarten AND learning. Just drop her off each time and just leave. Don't look back. You want to teach her no matter what kind of production she puts on you are not going to come back and save her from NOTHING.

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L.P.

answers from Washington DC on

Don't worry! Your daughter is turning 5 in July? My little brother was a July birthday too - and he didn't go to kindergarten until he was 6. In fact, I remember that most of kids with summer birthdays at my school started when they were 6. Take this year and work on getting her socialized - if you can find some other families whose kids will start kindergarten in 2009 you could make some play dates, and get her excited about making friends.

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K.L.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi Layla! You do have a rough situation on your hands and I truly hope it gets better for you soon. I don't really have much to say that others haven't already said. I do like the idea of waiting another year for kindergarten. My oldest daughter has an August birthday and we did send her. She will be 7 soon, and starting second grade. She is doing OK right now but I am constantly worried that I might have made the wrong decision (and she has NO problem in the social department!) My other daughter will be 5 in November, and misses the school cut-off. I'm actually glad that she'll be one of the older ones when she starts. If I were you, I would use this upcoming here to get her ready for kindergarten in Fall of 2009. I don't know where you live, but here in Fairfax there are plenty of preschools that cost around $200 for the entire month, not just one week! $200 a week for preschool seems a little ridiculous. That must have been for the whole day?! Send her to a pre-K program for 3 days a week, 3 hours per day, or something like that. Anyway, good luck with your decision. Keep us all posted :)
K.

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A.F.

answers from Washington DC on

Some children have very shy natures and they don't just "get over it." What a cruel statement. It is not a sin to be shy. Why do we force our children to conform? Mother, you must not feel guilty for keeping your child home. This is the healthiest place for delicate personality. I have been teaching children for over 30 years. I have seen the different personalities. Let your daughter be who God created her to be. I think shy people are thinkers and the world is blessed by their inteligence. My son was very shy until age 10. We did not leave him places and let him cry. We homeschooled. Today he is a strong godly man with a very good job and lots of friends. If you send your daughter to kindergarten she will survive but I think she may be healthier and happier if you homeschool for a year or two. Young children only need two hours a day of interactive education. Follow your heart, Mom. AF

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S.F.

answers from Lynchburg on

Is the problem really your daughter? I think it is more you. It may take longer than a few days for her to open up. She can't make friends in one or two hour periods. She will cry,
but before you know it she will be happy.
I just don't understand why the parents of today think their children are so different from the children of yesterday.
If you love your children and take good care of them, they will be fine. So, take your daughter to a good day group drop her off and go have a good day.
Remember, you can't go with her to High School and College and that is what you are preparing her for.

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J.G.

answers from Washington DC on

There is a great book by Kevin Henkes called Wemberly Worried about starting school--it's wonderful. He also writes other great kids books and you may want to find some children's books at the library dealing w/this situation.

Do you have friends in your neighborhood starting kindergarten too? It might help to seek them out and have a few playdates before the first day of school. With any luck they'll be in the same class.

Find a teen babysitter in your area that would come over for an hour or 2 this summer--have some activities planned to keep your daughter distracted while you're out. Get your daughter used to you being away just for a short time--lengthen the time as needed.

Don't forget to visit the classroom before the start of school--most schools let you go in a couple of days before the start to check out the room and see where everything is. It takes away the fear of the unknown. Most kindergarten teachers have alot of experience w/this situation and will do all they can to help your daughter have fun.

You just need to bite the bullet and get her used to school. Homeschooling isn't an option and she will eventually grow to love school.

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R.B.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi Layla. Well first of all as a former full day kindergarten teacher I just want to say how ridiculous the director acted. It was only the second day. These things take time, sometimes weeks, maybe even a month or 2. Your daughter was only there for 4 hrs, I don't think it was imperative that she eat or drink or even use the bathroom. Instead of asking you to leave, she should have suggested that you continue trying the 2 hrs, then gradually increase the time in 1 hr increments. How unprofessional of her to suggest that you have caused this & that your situation is a "disaster". A lot of children go through this. Though where I live in MD, most children go to preschool before kindergarten , I had several students who had just been home with their moms - yes, it was an adjustment but we were patient, didn't push them to participate, & rewarded any small steps they made until they adjusted. Sometimes, the best motivation is seeing how much fun the other children are having. She just needed more time to adjust to the church center & for the length of time to be increased at a slower pace. I say try again at a different place where they will welcome your daughter & give her the chance she needs to adjust. Try getting some books from the library about starting kindergarten that you guys can read together, & really talk it up - new friends ,cool activities, etc. When you go to register maybe make it a special day & reward her lunch @ her fav place afterwards - somthing to make it excititng & fun. Also, if you still have concerns, contact your school's kindergarten team BEFORE school starts so they can have a plan of action ready to go the 1st day (such as assigning a buddy, setting up rewards, etc). Good luck & stay positive!

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J.M.

answers from Washington DC on

STOP feeling guilty!!!! You did a wonderful thing by keeping her at home with you.
Yes, she will need to adjust. She will be like lots of others on the first few days. They will learn to cope and a new friend may help her through the transition.
You need to stop feeling so anxious about her adjustment because she is picking up your cues.
Don't dwell on the school issue. Get her registered and let her see the place. Maybe explaining it to her that Mommy is going to school and she needs to go to school too.
Don't use your (and her) anxiety as a reason to home school. She will adjust (probably faster and better than you).
Good luck- love to hear how it goes.

C.O.

answers from Washington DC on

Layla:

Hello! I understand exactly what you went through at the pre-school you took your daughter to. What I'm about to say may sound harsh, it is NOT intended that way. Please don't think I'm being mean. I REALLY want to help. I DO think you are a good mother. However, here's what I have to say.

1. Your daughter is picking up on YOUR body language and she is picking up YOUR feelings - you SPECIFICALLY state YOU "DREAD this and can't sleep at night". I would have a mirror around when you talk with her about it (try the bathroom) so you can see if you have terror/fear on your face - she will see and feel that.
a. Did you have a hard time in school?
b. Are you a social person?
2. Your daughter is mimicking you - you haven't taken her to play dates nor does it sound like you have encouraged her to befriend anyone.
3. In a way, she does need to get over it - with your help. Enroll her in a Bible Church summer camp - they are 3 hours long and she will be with other children her age.
a. Talk to her EXCITEDLY about Kindergarten and how much fun she will have. If she picks up you are faking it, she will freak out on you yet again.
b. Your daughter is playing you like a fiddle - all kids do and you are a GREAT mom for letting her do it. However, she HAS to interact with kids her age. YOU CANNOT be with her all of the time - are you going to go to middle, high school and college with her?

I tell my boys (ages 8 and 6) they are going to live with me "forever and ever and ever, amen." I tell them that when they get married, they are going to live with me - they laugh at me and say "sure mommy!"

Both of my boys are social butterflies - however, my younger one didn't start out that way. My oldest one - he came out yapping, smiling and ready to go and lives each day like that. My younger one had separation anxiety and cried when we were going to play dates - I was fortunate to be a SAHM during that time. However, I did enroll BOTH my boys in preschool by the time they were 2 - as play dates were NOT cutting it. Yes, even my oldest cried when I left - but it lasted for about 5 minutes after I left and he KNEW I was coming back. My youngest took about 15 minutes to adjust after I left. Each child is different.

The director of the pre-school should NOT be in that job. Go to different pre-schools - try Montessori - and interview them FIRST. That means go WITHOUT your children. See how the teachers interact with the children. Ask to talk with other parents (some places will NOT allow this, others will). Enroll her PART TIME - I would enroll her for 3 to 5 hours EVERY DAY - as this is the pattern she will have to adapt to for Kindergarten.

If you are not excited about it, she won't be.

Do not feel bad about not enrolling her or standing up to the Director - that's in the past. Focus on the future and move forward. Your children are modeling themselves after you. If you keep to yourself and don't interact with others - they will do the same. Play dates are FREE (except for gas). Even some churches offer play dates for their parishiners (spelling) so that people don't have to feel the need to clean their homes and supply juice and snacks. It's a GREAT
thing. Our church, St. Matthew's, in Sterling, VA has a great pre-school program and I would highly recommend it. The director is wonderful AND caring.

Oh yeah - change pediatricians. While he's right that your daughter needs to get over it - he should supply you with the tools and links to help you AND your daughter get through this.

Working from home has its advantages and disadvantages. Your daughter does not see you socialize with anyone as I don't think you have people over during your work time. She may see and hear you talk on the phone.

Does she see you interact with your husbband? You don't mention him and what role he plays in all of this. What are his feelings? How does he participate in his kids lives? Do you guys have people over for dinner? Do you have block parties?

Do you have kids in your neigbhorhood? Are your kids allowed to interact with them? If so - at what level? Is she or any other kids invited to each others houses to play?

Mam, I could go on and on. There are so many things you need to work on - not only for you, but your children as well. I know you only want the best for your kids - that is obvious and do NOT dounbt or think that I think or feel you are bad mom - quite the contrary, I know you love your children to death!

Just remember your children are VERY observant, they learn what they see on a daily basis - if you don't socialize, they won't. If you don't interact with others and only them, they are not learning about life outside the home. They have to learn how to deal with their others - not just those in the home (their family).

Please feel free to contact me.

Take care.

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J.P.

answers from Washington DC on

My girl has been in daycare since 7 weeks old and there have been many phases when she has experienced similar behavior, although thankfully she is fine soon after I leave. But it certainly can ruin your day. She will start K this fall and while she is a social child, she will not know any of the children in the area. I would definately encourage some playdates with other girls and moms entering school in the fall. Eventually she should gain a comfort level and start wanting to go off and play with the other girls. Given your girl's extreme reaction, is there any chance your child might have some sort of sensory overload situation? I would also recommend contacting the school over the summer to see what they can offer in terms of counseling, transitioning, advice, etc. Good luck. I'm sorry you have to go through this.

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C.Q.

answers from Washington DC on

My son is the same age and has been in preschool since he was 2 years old. The way your daughter is behaving now is the same way MOST children behave at any age when the go to school away from their parents for the first time. Your doctor is right about her needing to get over it and just accept it.
Don't get me wrong, it's scary for them but with time she will adjust. And it's heartbreaking for the parents but you gotta do it for the best interest of your daughter.
You must show her how much you love her by letting her go.
She will get teased in kindergarten and most likely after if she cannot be in a social situation around kids her age.
I can't tell you how mean some of the 5 year olds are in my son's class from being really bossy to saying mean things to saying potty words.
I can only imagine how hard it will be on your daughter to be put into a situation like kindergarten so soon without ever being in a school setting before.
Try not to feel guilty and enroll her in some group classes like swimming or reading programs before August.
Your daughter NEEDS TO KNOW that going to school means going to see your friends and playing with them which is so much fun....i.e. making friends!
That's what we've always said to my son. Although the learning part we just ignore telling him that because it's a natural progression.
Be strong and enroll her in some things before August!!

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N.R.

answers from Richmond on

Hi Layla. I just wanted to tell you that you sound like a wonderful Mom and that your little ones are sure lucky to have you! I cannot even begin to imagine how hard it is to watch (and hear about) your child going through this. I know it was hard for me to watch my son go through really hard times too.

I am a homeschooling Mom and I felt like I needed to share with you that maybe she's really not ready for a school setting just yet. And it's okay. I know it may seem like there's just not enough time in your upcoming schedule to homeschool her but let me show you there really is.

You see, most of us who have been to school think of homeschooling as "school-at-home." That would be kinda like we did as little girls with our friends in school desks doing lessons on paper with music class, P.E. and art class too. For some families, maybe that does happen and just maybe it works for them. But not for most of us. LOL Nope. For our family it took 2 awful yrs of school for us to "try" homeschooling our oldest son. He was so not ready for a school setting and becasue we didn't know any better (or different) at the time, we thought they were the "experts" and would know what to do with him and could show us. We couldn't have been further from the truth!

I bet you have already homeschooled her for 4yrs, right? You taught her to walk and talk, how to eat and drink from a cup. How about ABC's & 1,2,3's? I bet she's working on those now, right? How about colors? I bet you have helped her learn those too, right? See? You have already been homeschooling her you just haven't been calling it that...until today. :)
And how much time have you spent on teaching her these things, at HER own pace, each day? I bet it safe to say she's been happier at home too, right? So maybe the answer is to keep doing what you've been doing all along. Just simply take it one year at a time. It really is that easy.

Learning is supposed to be fun and enjoyed. And as a mom, you will love the "light bulb moments" when she understands something new.

I know it may seem so over-whelming, especially with your upcoming schedule change. However, for your little lady, who really needs you right now, I know that you can do it and do it very well.

Let me know if you have any questions about homeschooling. I love to share what I have learned over the yrs. If I don't know the answers, I do know places we can go to fing them. LOL We are currently going into our 6th yr of homeschooling and have added 2 brothers as well. And please do not let the socialization fear get you down. LOL There's a homeschool bumper sticker that says "Beware! Unsocialized homeschooler in car." LOL!!!!!!!! There are so MANY affordable activities we can do as homeschoolers with other homeschoolers. It's so much fun for all of us.

Hope to hear from you soon. Take Care!
N. =) SAHM homeschooling 3 boys 12, 7 & 2 yrs old; married to Mr. Wonderful for almost 15yrs. We help other families, like ours, save money each and every month on their shopping budget. You can too just simply ask me how!

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M.F.

answers from Washington DC on

Layla,

I just want to add that there are some kids who are naturally more sensitive than others. It's part of who they are and not something that you caused or can change. Unfortunately, the world isn't always geared toward our sensitive children. But there are things that parents can do to help guide them through difficult situations.

A really helpful book about this is called "The Highly Sensitive Child: Helping Our Children Thrive When the World Overwhelms Them" by Elaine Aron. I have a highly sensitive child who has caused more than a few of my gray hairs, but this book has given us great insight into helping her adjust to stressful situations. It has also helped us to see her gifts instead of focusing on how she's different from other kids.

Good luck!

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