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Upsets In The Morning (and All Day!)


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Hi,

 

I'm a new member and have seen some really good advice on here so hoping people may have some ideas to help me. I took over a Reception class at the end of January which has been quite tricky but I think i'm starting to get my head around it! However, I have a little girl who is really struggling with being separated from her parents. There are tears from the moment she arrives outside the school and they don't really stop all day. She does occasionally get involved in activities but then seems to realise she's having fun and gets upset. She is also terrified of not having a familiar adult around. I'm very worried about this, especially as she is getting herself too upset to eat at lunch time.

I've thought about a daily contact book and discussing feelings at the start of each day but would love to hear any suggestions.

 

Beccy.

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Welcome to the Forum, Beccy and congratulations on making the first of many posts!

 

This scenario is all too familiar in pre-school settings where we have the luxury of being able to ensure a familiar adult is always close by to handle the initial separation anxiety and the (often) many manifestations of this throughout the session. A lot will depend on the temperament of the child and your own set up but things that have helped us in the past is a visual timetable so the child can see what she is going to be doing until mummy comes back. If she can see the pictures of your routine she can 'tick them off' and see visually how near to home time it is. For other children we have used a play clock to set the hands at the time of mummy's return so that they can go and compare 'their' clock with the one on the wall.

 

Whatever strategies we use, we always acknowledge the child's feelings and remind them when mummy will be back to collect them, and say that mummy always comes back to collect at the end of the day. We always stress to mum the importance of being there on time to collect when she should do. There's nothing so certain to break the trust between child and practitioner when you spend all session saying mummy will be there at a certain time and then mummy gets held up in traffic and is late!

 

There wil be lots of people along soon with helpful suggestions - and I guess it comes down to choosing the ones that are most 'doable' for your individual setting.

 

Maz

Edited by HappyMaz
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Hi Beccy, first A warm welcome to the forum. :(

 

This is a difficult situation and unfortunately I think 'time' is the healer here. Good to hear that she is starting to participate in activities and where you say she appears to realise she's having fun and then gets upset, sound so familiar to me from my preschool age experiences. It seems sometimes that some children seem to think that 'upset behaviour' is expected of them, becomes a habit and is somewhat of the norm. Sorry I'm not explaining this very well, but I do think children pick up on vibes, from parents and other carers and from these get unintended mixed up messages, thus some children can be more tearful than others.

During the session / morning are there lots of routine changes? This I have found from experience, upsets children when they are settling in. Routine is good but each change, until they are confident with the routine, is a trigger for anxiety. Again with the lunch time, it is a change within the routine.

Consider how many changes she has to deal with, even small ones such as moving from the mat to child initiated activities. Do the children have to attend assembly? Maybe, if this is yes, she could spend this time in the class with a TA, having the environment less crowded, and have opportunities to 'bond' with a significant adult.

I am guessing mum is quite anxious, although I may be totally wrong, working with her on trying not to portray anxiety, but to portray 'confidence' and a sense of 'it will be alright, it's safe / fun here' type of feeling from you both, yes very hard I know but it will help. Comments like " I see you're upset but you don't have to be, come on let's go and............rather than would you like to........(no she wouldn't she wants to be with mum, whatever you ask :o. Affirming everything is ok for her type of message.

A contact book is a good idea, not avoiding messages of when she's upset but focusing more on the times she has enjoyed herself, then mum can talk about these times at home with her, maybe pick up some clues as to how to promote these memories and experiences, ie: "I heard you did a really good puzzle today, let's take in your ...(such & such) one into school tomorrow so you can show Mrs ...."

I would keep discussions with mum very short in the mornings, it just delays the 'leaving' bit for the daughter (unless it's done out of her sight). But again depending on how old this child is, what previous experience she has of time away from mum, or not, if the school allows it maybe mum needs to come into school with her daughter for a while to help, this can help (or sometimes hinder) the settling in process, only you can judge whether this would be useful or not.

 

I hope this helps, but be reassured, it is just patience, time and a positive attitude portrayed to the child. I am sure it won't be long before she is bounding through the door, without a second glance at mum, with a beaming smile on her face ready to start the fun day :( She may even object when it's home time. xD

 

I've attached a poem about Teachers and Parents, which I was reminded of as I read your post , the last verse is particularly poignant. I got it from this forum so not credited to me.

 

Good luck, let us know how things go. Don't forget to post about the day (in the not too distant future) when she bounds into class beaming :( )

 

Peggy

Unity.doc

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Hi

 

We have had this problem recently when I returned after a 3 week absence from an injury to my leg. The children had been traumatised by a series of very different supply teachers who changed lots of things in the room and their routines. I now have several children who are very tearful in the mornings and one who cries just before and just after lunch each day.

We have tried to give each of the tearful children a confident friend who encourages them to join in their activity. We also have special helpers who take the register each day and have tried to include these children in this more often. This week we have given one of the children the responsibility of checking our guinea pigs have food and water when she arrives at school and again checking them as she goes home which has proved a suitable distraction for her. I think it is a case of linking into something that will "click" with that specific child and help them to adjust and adapt. Maybe a bright individual reward card for a smile as she arrives even if it then becomes tearful, and gradually increase what you expect to see to get the reward.

 

Don't give up and be ready to adapt with the children as they gradually become more confident, what works one week may not work the next!!!

 

Nicky Sussex :oxD

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There are many strategies which could help or work, some with the help of the parents... all depends on the child .. we often have to try several before finding the right one.

 

As Maz, said the visual timetable is very often a good way, sometimes we have children move the picture once completed into a box ,

 

we also have made a book of pictures of the routine/ activities in the setting with the child in it for them to take home and use there with the parents, if we have time we will add a story of the day for parents to read to the child . This will include pictures of important staff or adults and other children with parents permission.

 

Does the child have a comforter she could bring in.. sometimes it is enough to have it in a bag nearby....maybe start with her and gradually encourage her to put it somewhere safe until the end of the day

 

An item of mums to show she will be back.. occasionally this can be a replica bunch of keys (old ones) which child believes mum cannot manage without.. or we had one parent make a duplicate purse .. child believed mum could not go shopping without it so had to come back.. also in that case child felt she was not missing out on going to shop with mum as she needed her purse...

 

More ideas will come im sure

 

Inge

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We had a parent who said "What have the horrible people done to you?" when she picked up the child (who wasn't that upset until she said that!!) The second time she did it we pointed out that a more positive attitude might help all of us in the future which cured the problem immediately.

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Lot's of good advice already. Like Inge I'm a firm beleiver in the importance of comforters in some form or other.

We once had a very unsettled 4yr old child -she just needed to know I had a mobile phone in my draw that could see and hold knowing mum was 'just a phone call away'. As long a she could see or knew where phone was she was fine- what she didn't know was the phone was a 'dummy display one' donated by loacl phone shop!

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We had a parent who said "What have the horrible people done to you?" when she picked up the child (who wasn't that upset until she said that!!) The second time she did it we pointed out that a more positive attitude might help all of us in the future which cured the problem immediately.

 

 

Oh we've had that too! How intensely annoying is it!!! 'Did Mummy leave you in the nasty place again' well gee thanks - we love you too.....

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Thanks everyone. You have given me some really good ideas to try out with her. Mum is very emotional as well, saying that she was exactly like her daughter when she was at school so there 'isn't much we can do'!

We do have a whole class visual timetable but an individual one for her sounds like a good idea.

Thanks again.

Beccy

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