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Separation Anxiety Of 4 Year Old Going To School In Sept


Deb
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Hi

 

I good really do with some advice. We are a pre-school attached to a school. Now and again we get children just coming to our setting (from other settings) to socialize with their peers before going into the local school. Generally this works well.

 

We have had one child who started with us in January for 1 session a week. The child is 4 years old and find it really difficult to separate from Mum. Initially the child was very upset for 1/2 an hour after Mum leaves but we have managed to get this down to 5 to 10 minutes but not without the child being very upset and clinging to Mum. The child used to have problems separating from Mum at the other setting and still has problems now and again I understand. Just writing this has made me think about speaking to the other setting to see how they help the child settle, with Mum's permission of course. We seem to take two steps forward, one step back. It doesn't help having half-terms and holidays to break up the pattern of attendance.

 

I stay with the child, comforting, reassuring until the child is happy to play, especially with a change in routine, whilst trying to help the child feel confident and able to The child knows several of the children in our setting. I suggested bringing a transition object, like a soft toy, from home which the child clings to.

 

I was hoping somebody may have been in a similar situation and could offer any words of wisdom as to how to handle this situation, to break this cycle so that the child will be able to handle coming to us and ulimately going to school in September.

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Not sure I can help too much but we do have a very similar situation. With us I think part of the problem is mum without wanting to sound horrible. We had a lot of work to do to get mum to commit to sending her little one to us at first. She kept saying she would and then hesitating. Eventually she came but only one day a week which we find doesn't help for settling in. We convinced mum to increase this to two days after a while but then mum went back to work and she needed to use four sessions of funding at nursery so she dropped to one with us again. I even toyed with the idea of asking mum to bring her two days to us and give her the second for free.

 

Mum has told us she is happier at our setting than the other and there have been issues over food there too which hasn't helped. I'm working on the basis that she does have friends with us who are going to school to. And maybe mum will be better because she has no choice about school whereas at the moment I think she feels guilty not spending every minute with her and this is rubbing off on the child.

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Guest pamgreen

We used to get situations like this parents just wanting one session so that their child could get to know children they are going to school with, they continued to go to their other setting. We decided it just wasn't working it was not fair on the child. We now have children for a minimum of two sessions only.

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Sometimes giving the child a special job to do on arrival helps because then the focus is on the job rather than the settling. It depends on the child really. Do you have a visual timetable that mum could share with the child each morning to reassure him/her that she will be returning? A picture of mum (or a mummy) could be on the timetable.

 

I hope you get some good ideas from the other setting.

 

If you have email at your setting could the child send mum a message part way through the morning and then get a reassuring message back? I used this very successfully for one child. I was a bit worried that it might cause additional upset but then I realised that just because he appeared busy didn't mean he felt relaxed. Having that reassurance that mum was still there, thinking about him and looking forward to picking him up made a big difference to his ability to relax. Acknowledging his difficulties rather than glossing over them really seemed to help.

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Thanks for your replies. It is difficult for the child only coming one day a week. Some good suggestions that I can try like:

 

Giving the child a job on arrival

 

Emailing the parent during the session

 

Visual timetable

 

Acknowledging the child's feelings about being upset

 

I also wondered about the child having a photo of mum in her pocket or a little note say I love you and will be back to pick you up at 3- represented in the form of a heart and kisses which I would elaborate on.

 

Any others to add to the list?

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Any others to add to the list?

 

I have used a bunch of keys in the past! Mum had a spare set cut, same keyring etc and the child thought mum would 'definitely' come back for the keys kind of thing!

Sounds bizarre but it worked, almost as though the child doubted mum would collect him but she would certainly be back for 'her keys'

 

Not sure keys are actually a great idea but maybe something of Mums for the child to 'look after'

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I have had children in this situation many times.I have found sometimes that the parent has issues. I have always found that children who only come once a week or start after their peers take a long while to settle and never really fit into the group easily.

Could you encourage the mum to invite another child/ parent to socialise outside the group and could you take photos of the child happily engaged in activities and show them to mum.Once mum sees the child is happy it might rub off on the child. I have also asked mum to bring a spare bag/purse with a photo in and leave it where child can see it. Good luck

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Some more fab ideas, thank you both. We could even put a photo in the purse of the child playing happily to act as a reminder that she did cope with the separation last time and had fun.

 

Great to be able to bouce ideas around with others who have experienced these difficulties and found solutions. Thanks.

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we also have done a setting/ home book with pictures of the setting with the child in them following the routine or flow of the day, doing everything they participate in, and giving to mum to show the child at home. One I even made up a story of her day . this helped both parents and child realise that it is a happy place to be. this we extended to include pictures of the school they would be going to and the teachers/ staff they would meet , helped with transition a bit.

 

I even had one little girl tell me that she would stop when she went to school... and she did... just caused a real problem for us every morning for first 5 mins for 18 months. We regularly rang mum 10 mins after start of session to say all was well..

 

Parents who have issues with child leaving are always as a big an issue, as they tend to transfer their need onto the child - I had a small video camera at the setting and used to film the child playing and very often laughing and running around to show the parent when they collected... this usually helped a lot, parents were often very grateful for this small bit of video, it showed we were actually telling them the truth as the number of parents who never believed us was incredible.

 

Thinking about it have also taken and sent a picture of child happy to a parents mobile number . It was the only way she believed us!

 

Inge

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