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Settling In Every Morning


Guest terrydoo73
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Guest terrydoo73

We have been open as a playgroup providing 2 1/2 hours every morning for children aged 3 - we are now up to 8 children 3 days a week and 6 2 days a week We have one little boy who we don't know how to handle. Initially he came in with his mum holding tightly onto her leg with one arm every morning. Gradually he loosened the grip and came in without mum. However over the past week we have noticed he has regressed never letting his mum go despite all our persuasion, asking him to help us do something, talking about mum leaving etc all to no avail. Mum does slip away when he lets go of her leg but on realising his mum is gone he starts to "pretend" cry - no tears and very quickly is distracted to play.

 

We are convinced this has become a habit to get attention but it is how to deal with it. We seem to be focusing all our efforts on this one child every morning and cannot seem to get any ease.

 

Yesterday we had another new start - she was fine yesterday morning with mum bringing her and letting her go immediately. Today dad just stayed and of course she clung on for dear life. Eventually when she became distracted I motioned dad to leave and he took the hint without saying a word - it worked as the child never realised he had left and didn't make a fuss.

 

We have another little girl who was quite happy to come in to playgroup when it started but now she has started a thing of running back out to the hallway to her mum to ask for another hug and kiss. Today another little girl came in just after her and she was happy to come into playgroup with this friend. The playgroup door is open for all our children to come in every morning and they do so but this one child seems to look in and then run back to mum.

 

Are we dealing with things correctly? Anyone got any hints as to how to work with the little boy - should we ask mum to say goodbye to the boy and hand his hand into ours at the door or should she just continue coming in with him into the playgroup and wait for an opportunity to leave? What about the little girl with her habit of running back to mum - how do we handle her?

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Hi terrydoo - I had been wondering how it was going! :o

 

Honestly, I wouldn't worry too much about any of this - we all face similar from time to time - what I will say though is that I always tell my parents that they must say goodbye to their children - I don't 'allow' any sneaking out

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I too believe that children should understand that their parents have left them, but that they will be back at the end of the session. We use a variety of strategies with different children to mark how soon this will be. Of course it does rely on the parent coming back when they say they will. I worry about the feeling of abandonment children might feel when they realise their parent is no longer with them. Children need to be able to trust the people who care for them, and having a parent who suddenly disappears without warning can make the separation process more difficult.

 

That said, I have had parents who have insisted they leave when the child isn't looking, and the children don't seem to have suffered unduly in the short term. Can't talk about the long term effects though!

 

It sounds to me as if you're just experiencing the usual settling difficulties - compounded because you have lots of new children all at once! Just keep reassuring that mum will be back, and say when. So if you have a story at the end of the session, then make sure they know mum'll be back after that. A visual timetable can help here, because the child can 'mark off' the activities of the day and get a visual representation of the timeline for mum's return.

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Guest terrydoo73

Yes I do encourage this as well - only these 2 children are the problem at present not really wanting mum to go but yet are happy to be in playgroup. I think I would be more worried if they were coming in the door crying and screaming!

 

The little girl who started yesterday was told by her dad that he was leaving and it resulted in a bit of crying with real tears but he calmed her and just a short time later he left. I was speaking to her mum who collected her and she agreed with me that in future they would both (her and hubby) say goodbye at the door and not move into the playroom. I personally think this is the best tactic - if every parent would follow this policy then we would be providing consistency across the board. Incidentally this child wa supposed to only be coming to us 3 days a week and already today the mum has decided to make it 5 days!! We must be doing something right.

 

Another problem which we think should be addressed is timing. The playgroup is supposed to start at 9.15 but we are finding that parents are becoming increasingly earlier every day. It is an issue in that my staff do not actually start work until 9 and they barely have time to get their coats off some mornings or talk to me about the planned events of the day before someone is coming in the door to start. The result is we are not organised in meeting children. One of our volunteers is happy enough with the situation but I am more concerned about what would happen if say something happened of an accidental nature then where would we be - say a child arrived with another one soon after and one of them wanted to go to the toilet - this would leave us vulnerable in greeting and toileting.

 

I am thinking of keeping our outside gate locked until 9.15 and purposely go out to open the gate and welcome everyone - that way hopefully everyone will arrive at the one time and make the transition a bit easier - children are more likely to follow each other in to the room together I think.

 

Our volunteer helps are Committee members and I don't think they are entirely happy with a "locked" gate on arrival but it is really a safeguarding issue and one that needs to be nipped in the bud now - before you know it we will be starting at 9 am losing that vital 15 minutes to ensure resources are set out as well as checking toilets are clean etc.

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I worked at a setting where the front door was open, but the door from the hallway into the play room was kept locked until the session began. You may well have an insurance problem if children are in the setting outside of your session time (and even if you don't, you could use this angle to explain to parents why you can't take their children before the session begins! :o ).

 

We're lucky that we have a foyer area where parents can sit with their child until our session begins. So we can continue our set up without worrying about children getting under our feet.

 

If you think you have a health and safety issue if the children come in too early then you have every right to think about ways of keeping the children out until the session begins. I think I'd start with putting out a newsletter reminding parents of the session timings, what you are doing in the morning to provide a safe and stimulating environment for their children, and asking parents not to come into the setting until the appropriate time. Then if that doesn't work, I'd put a notice in the window to say that from now on, in the interests of the children's health and safety, you'll be keeping the gate locked until the appropriate time when a member of staff will come out and let children and their parents in!

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Guest terrydoo73

Funny this is how we feel - our insurance might be an issue if something did happen. The problem has really arisen because my Deputy has been in the middle of putting paint in the pots and not getting it finished by the time a child comes in and she has to deal with that child to help him settle.

 

We have just issued our newsletter for March last week - do we wait now until April before implementing or try this method of keeping the gate locked to see if it improves without having to draw attention to a few parents who are breaking the rules at present?

 

I haven't really a problem with early arrivals in terms of parents wanting to get to work but this is not the case as all my parents are stay at home mums or self employed!! I usually arrive at 8.30 and do most of the prep in terms of opening up locked doors, ensuring toilets are clean, having water in the tray etc etc but my Deputy is concerned that I am not getting an opportunity to do other things like relaxing first thing as she thinks I am so uptight by the time the children arrive!!

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Definitely keep them out until the start time. I don't want to sound harsh but you need that time and your insurance might not cover you before that time. We have certainly used that line before now. It also means you and the staff are ready for the children when they come in (well in our case that's theoretical because we always seem to have forgotten something which the children point out straight away!).

 

Re the settling - this sounds really normal to me, and we always mention to parents that sometimes something minor can happen weeks into the start of term which results in some similar behaviour from even the most settled children. It is probably magnified due to you only having just started operating and there only being a small number of children. About the idea of parents not coming into the playroom - this is something only you and the staff can decide on. We don't stop parents coming in because we feel that sometimes children like to show their parents something in the morning, parents like to see their child actively engaged in something before they leave, and sometimes children need that few minutes of transition time. What we do when children need to be supported as you have described you do is ring or text parents shortly after the child has settled. This means they aren't worrying all morning and has really helped our more reluctant parents to ask us to take their child from them so they can leave, ie they trust us to tell them if the child needs them to come back before the end of the morning.

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My oldest son screamed, cried, clung to my hair or any available part of me for the 2 years he was at playgroup. He walked into school on his first day without a backward glance.

Some children take longer to settle. I worked with one lad who took ages to allow mom to leave and then for 4 months stood in one spot with his bottle of tea. He was watching the others and mom said he often spoke about the things he'd seen. She was happy with his progress and really so were we. He engaed with his eyes, would allow us to speak to him and followed instructions i.e. time for snack, go and try a wee, time for story on the mat.

At playgroup we expect a parent to stay for the first session and then leave it up to them to leave when they and the child arehappy. We do however know when mom is staying for her own reasons and then help her to leave. I dont think theres a rush to it to be honest. Each child is treated individually and if that means they are going to cry and cling for half a term then so be it, we go at their pace.

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My oldest son screamed, cried, clung to my hair or any available part of me for the 2 years he was at playgroup. He walked into school on his first day without a backward glance.

Reminds me of a little girl in our setting who used to refuse to take off her coat or back pack, and would stand by the front door sobbing, all the while watching the car park for signs of mummy coming back for her. It took a long while, but we got there in the end and now she's probably the most confident of her siblings!

 

I agree with you Rea, best not to try to rush things. I can still remember that sobbing though, and wondering what on earth we would do if it didn't stop soon. :o

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Our door is closed until 8.55 when we start..... we do get parents (or children!) knocking on the door before this time - but we just carry on and make it clear that it is a 8.55 start.

 

One advantage to this is that when we have clingy children like you have descirbed, we can sometimes take a child in early and break that habit of crying!

 

It's always hard to make a change x x x

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You need to have a clear policy - the door remains locked until 9.15am no ifs or buts. If your committee volunteers want to be there at 9am, they can come in and help set up, otherwise they have to wait until you're ready.

 

Send out a short and polite note to all parents, you can even pass the buck if you like, saying 'we've been advised by our insurers that ...'. Set your stall up now or things will only get worse.

 

With the clingy children, it's the parents you need to be firm with, but I suspect what you actually need is a settling in person, who explains the routines to the parents and helps support them in leaving their child. Any uncertainly in the adults and the children will quickly pick up on it and playing up to it.

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Guest terrydoo73

Well we tried the barring of the outer gate until 9.12 - 3 minutes to go and my Deputy then went out and greeted everyone. It worked in that everyone was sitting in their car waiting and everyone came in at the same time. However we had the same 2 who refused to come in. The little boy took until 9.50 before his mummy finally left and even at that there were still tears. Mum passed the comment to me when she came in how every child came in without any fuss bar one - the other little girl. I said to her "if one child sees another get specific attention then they will start to play on it too". I think she realised what I meant although I wasn't being rude just pointing out the obvious! The little girl was especially hard today - eventually persuaded her to come in and sit in our quiet corner where my Deputy was also with the little boy. He has got cute to our tactics now - when we ask if he will take our hand to walk with us he clings to mum and just laughs. When mum did eventually get away my Deputy stayed where she was for another 5 minutes but by this stage the boy was nearly on top of her - she persuaded him to move to the arts and crafts table to make a picture. She didn't stay with him and he was fine just working on his own.

 

This little boy goes to a private nursery on Friday mornings and apparently it is exact same there and he has been attending there for over a year!!

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Hi terrydoo73, can only speak about the way we do things at our setting and i don't know whether it would be something you may want to consider, try out for your next intake or dismiss as a no no.

We firstly do induction sessions for our new starters.

Half a term before the children are due to start proper the children are invited to come in on what will be their first day of the week for an hour. We normally run this from 10.00am for our morning children and 2.00pm for our afternoon ones.

This allows you to settle your existing children before they arrive.

Parents have to stay during this time, the children get to know the building, meet their keyperson, and take part in all the activities, so that when they start properly it is normally the parents with a tear and not the child.

If we do have children that need more time to settle, it clearly states in our induction pack that parents will be expected to stay for up to the first half-term if needed gradually reducing the time as the weeks go by but this has never been the case.

We also have our new children that are normally just 2.5 years doing a slightly smaller session gradually building it up as the weeks go by as they learn about our routine.

So our existing children start at 9.00am new children arrive 9.30 am. Existing children stay till 12.00pm but our new children go at 11.30am, this is expanded as time goes on.

We have been doing it this way for over ten years now, and it certainly works for us, the parents and most importantly the children.

Just a thought. :o

We definetly have no children in before the opening times, for insurance, time for you to set up etc.

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Guest terrydoo73

We have actually done a settling in time for all our children but this one child seems to have the idea that mum must stay every morning even though he is happy the rest of the time. We explained to mum that should gradually leave but it is going the other way unfortunately!!

 

We are at a slight disadvantage I know in that we started in January and our children are only just turned 3.

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He has got cute to our tactics now - when we ask if he will take our hand to walk with us he clings to mum and just laughs. When mum did eventually get away my Deputy stayed where she was for another 5 minutes but by this stage the boy was nearly on top of her - she persuaded him to move to the arts and crafts table to make a picture. She didn't stay with him and he was fine just working on his own.

 

 

Sounds like this is more an attention thing rather than a settling in issue, he's obviously a very clued up little boy and it does sound like he's revelling in the attention. If you're feeling brave you could try being quite harsh and telling mum that she must leave straight away. It's one hug and kiss then you or your deputy take the boy off mum (maybe she could literally hand him over as she may have to prise him off her) and once mum has left you just leave him be. No persuading him to do anything, no carrying on holding his hand or anything. See what he does when no one is giving his tears any attention, you may find that they get worse but then they will probably stop, particularly if you start up something exciting with some children quite near him.

 

I know he's only young, but sometimes a bit of tough love can actually help in the long run. If he develops this into a habbit now then transitions later on (another nursery or school perhaps, although it's a long way in the future yet!) will be much harder on him. It sounds (although only you can judge best) as if this is more an issue with mum and with the boy playing on it, rather than his actual issue with being left.

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I started Kindergarten (forty years ago) with four surviving quints and my memory of kindy is all four of them pounding on the doors and windows, screaming to go with Mum! So it could be worse (she writes flippantly).

 

On a more serious note, I started a little boy in November who cried and cried and stamped his feet for England. He is now the most settled and happy of all the children. I really followed his lead - going out of my way to avoid flashpoints Something that worked especially well was to let him stay in his buggy (at his insistence) where he felt secure and in control (he was only just two).

 

Maybe setting aside a special place with the child's special-interest things may help? Little tent maybe?

 

Best of luck,

 

Honey

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Guest terrydoo73

Well he came in today holding tightly onto mummys three fingers, she said let go and goodbye then walked away out of the playgroup. My Deputy took him by the hand and after an initial mimic crying he brightened up and started to look at the puppets. I think it had to come from mum and I personally think she is getting a bit fed up with it all - he is not back with us now until Monday so it will be interesting to see what happens then.

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It sometimes helps if mum leaves something of her own-handbag, bunch of keys etc with the child at the playgroup. Rather touchingly, the child seems to be reassured that mum will have to come back for her handbag, even if she might not bother to come back for him! The item in question is best left in a high but visible position,rather than held by the child.

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It sometimes helps if mum leaves something of her own-handbag, bunch of keys etc with the child at the playgroup. Rather touchingly, the child seems to be reassured that mum will have to come back for her handbag, even if she might not bother to come back for him! The item in question is best left in a high but visible position,rather than held by the child.

Absolutely - or a small photo that they can keep in their pocket.......most of us carry photos of our loved ones - in our purse/wallet or photos on key rings! :o

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We used to make a big show of saying we'd forgotten to buy the snack or other things and asking mom to run to the shops for us. We'd sneak the snack to her so she could produce when she arrived back. I think it worked everytime. :o

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  • 3 weeks later...

hello,

i feel that i have seen this problem from both sides very recently.

My son (2) started in a day nursery last August, one day a week. It broke my heart to leave him the first few times as he struggled to understand what was happening. The Nursery has a brilliant system in that one of the 'ladies' (as my son calls them) will come straight over to greet the arriving child and they encourage parents to say goodbye whilst they see to hanging coats and bags etc. The Nursery encourage you to call 'whenever you want' and they are absolutely lovely when you do - i never get the impression I am wasting their time which as a slightly anxious mum is great.

 

For me it was a complete case of the shoe on the other foot as it is usually me as the Nursery Teacher in a Primary School who is trying to convince mums to trust me to care for their precious child. Promising to ring them if you can't settle a little one reassures the mum. Encouragaing the little one to make a picture or a gift for mummy is always a good distraction. We have a lot of EAL children who literally are at the first stage of learning English. We make sure that one of us stays very close (this will generally be the person who becomes the KW) and we show them all of the areas and the loos etc. We find that the sand area (for whatever reason) can generally calm even the most upset little one.

 

We generally have children come on their first day for 1 hour and then the following day for the whole 3 hr session and we take new children as soon as they are 3 rather than in one large group. It's quite a baptism of fire but we find that the children settle really quickly as they quickly get to grips with what is happening. We usually take pics and print them to put in home school link books - especially for the really troubled days to reassure both the child take the parents that distraction has occured. Yesterday we tried out our new camera and i was able to show an anxious mum a video on the smartboard taken minutes after she had left her little one crying, the little one in question was thumping away in the outdoor sandpit having a great time. I had also given mum a quick ring to reassure her that all was well. It's a really tricky one and we have certainly had parent's saying perhaps they should take their child out of Nursery as not getting v upset when mum leaving etc particularly upset Showing the evidence by way of photo or video is foolproof. As young as our children are they are canny at knowing what buttons to press! That is not discounting that they do feel upset and miss mummy etc but we definitely err on the method of distraction and find that when parents leave calmly (however they might feel inside) it definitely gives the little ones a message. Try to encourage your parents to stay calm and walk away reassuring them that you'll ring if the little one can't be settled, let them call (if that option is available) and take lots of pics of their little one having fun :)

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This has reminded me that some children like to keep their coats on until they feel comfortable. So maybe not insisting they take their coats off can help - so they feel that they can leave if they want to.

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this has reminded me of when my son started playgroup at 2 and a half. Every morning he screamed as i dropped him off and i felt so guilty. I'd put off leaving him, hanging around as long as possible then crying all the way home! this went on for about a week when the manager took me to one side and firmly but kindly told me to just leave him at the door, go round the corner for 2 minutes then come back and peep through the window. When I did he was happily playing, no sign of tears. According to the manager it was a really common thing for the children to try and make their parents feel guilty by screaming but if the parents stopped rising to the bait the children got fed up and stopped doing it!

I know this isn't always the case and some children really do find it difficult seeing their parents leave them but once they realise that they will come back for them this usually fizzles out.

Seems really odd thinking about that now. My son is leaving high school in a couple of months and I barely ever see him these days! He's either out with his friends or in his bedroom playing on his xbox. Scary how fast time goes!

 

In regards to your situation, I'd say that locking the gate is a good idea and I think it would probably make it easier if the parents didn't come in but if you do want them to come in, I'd have a set routine to that time, e.g. set up a self-registration system that the parents help the child to do, then say goodbye and leave. The children need to know that their parent is going to leave whether they cry or not so as to weed out the ones who are trying to induce guilt!! Also the routine will help them all to understand and accept the separation.

Also I think it is important that you have an end of the day routine that is kept the same every day, e.g. story time or song time. This way the children will learn that their parent is going to come after this session every day, which will hopefully reduce the stress and uncertainty.

 

I think you'll probably find that whatever you decide on it'll be the parents who find it hardest, not the children!

 

Good luck!

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Guest terrydoo73

Thanks for your replies. We did all the settling in of one morning when they came in for an hour and mum stayed, then followed that with a good few weeks when parents were invited to stay with their child shortening the time each day until they didn't stay etc etc. We did give them all booklets about our settling in and included within this pack was a booklet of photos for the children and we asked parents to go over these with their child showing the things they could do.

 

It is a difficult one as this one boy just clings to mums leg. Mum has to literally prise herself off him which is our issue - the child doesn't seem to be relenting in the pursuit of holding on for dear life. We do work it on the basis of key worker greeting the particular child and trying to have some object to talk about with the child so he lets go but oh no boy but he knows the routine now and it is like pushing and pulling session which we are really hating. Mum has realised and does not feel guilty in any way. Lately she has been making a very quick getaway to see if this helps.

 

We have also tried the method of all the parents coming in together - we purposely keep the gate locked until the exact opening time and this has meant all parents come in at the same time and leave fairly quickly as some children are playing on the attention issue running in and out to mum constantly - we close the door each time a child comes into the room and warn them that standing near the door or running out and in could mean an accident is caused.

 

We do have a set routine at the end of the day too - all the children know that when we go to the reading corner and do our rhymes soon mums will come.

 

Our Early Years advisor has said go back to our settling in policy but we have followed it entirely to the letter but are still having problems with this one child.

 

There is one thing that we have noticed about this child however - when he does eventually settle in he plays at the one thing for the first hour of our free play time before snack - he rarely leaves and flits about so his attention span is amazing. He is very chatty during this time and uses his imagination considerably in creations. And he doesn't just stick at the same area every day - sometimes it is water play, then it is sand play or dough play or jigsaws or small world.

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Have you tried somebody else bringing him instead of mum? Sometimes dad dropping off can begin to break the pattern, or grandma or even a friend.

 

great minds Panders, that's exactly what i was thinking. Or maybe one of the other mums could bring him to the door?

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Guest terrydoo73

Would suggest that to mum but problem is we are beside the school where his 2 older siblings go to school so it is a case of them being left off first and then he is. Also his dad runs his own business with no other employees so doubt if he could take the time to do this some mornings. Will suggest it though if situation continues. Seems to be working all right this past few days although it is a case of prising his fingers off her leg and running out the door rather than coming in with him fully to the playgroup room.

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Yes it's a shame when it is like that for them, and can be quite unsettling for all the other children too. Some little ones are like it all the way through pre-school until they leave for primary - just seems to be part of their routine in the morning to do it! We have one at the moment who cries everytime mum brings him in, but not when the next door neighbour brings him in - think he cries when mum drops him off to her though, and it is worse at the moment because he has been off sick with her all to himself for a few days.

 

We have his older brother too, and when one "kicks off"so does the other - it's a crazy way to live! Big brother said this week that mummy says if I don't cry I'm going to get a sticker for my chart, so mum is obviously doing her best to rectify the situation and he will get some toy or other he wants when he has collected enough stickers.

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  • 1 month later...
Guest terrydoo73

Ok so it is 2 months on and this little boy has not improved in his way of coming into Playgroup every day. Today it was extremely distressing as he really cried sore. He clings to mums leg and mum has tried everything and so have we! The latest tactic of mum is to run in and around all the furniture hoping to escape quickly out the door but it doesn't work! She is literally peeling him off her and there are always crying spells although it only lasts for a few minutes. The child is happy the remaining time with us and in fact doesn't want to leave us at the end of the session. His mum is one of the last to arrive to bring him in every morning and the last to arrive to collect him every day - this is beyond a joke and we have tried to say to mum tactfully if she came in with the other children and left with everyone at the same time it might help him - the little boy knows now every day that mum will be the last and settles down in the book corner. He is gaining all our attention - my Deputy deals with him when he comes in each morning freeing me up to settle the other children and she again talks to him at the end of the session allowing me to start the tidying up.

 

We have tried lots of different things - talking to him at the end of each day about his coming in every day, using a distraction such as a book or toy to get him in each morning as well as talking to him. I personally think he loves all the attention given to him individually but it is breaking him completely so that we can get around this difficulty every morning. I have to say it doesn't really disturb the other children that much but it is difficult to know for sure.

 

Would it be an idea now to be firm with him - just to tell mum to take him home for the day and explain that he cannot come back until this stops or would this be giving into him? Both my deputy and I just are at our wits end not knowing what to do. Our Early Years Advisor mentioned the distraction method - setting aside a toy or book at the end of each session and telling him that when he comes in the next morning he has to go and get this and bring it to us or we got with him to the quiet area and read the book or talk about the toy but she didn't actually see him in action. He is 3 1/2 years of age and not at all shy in his talking or mannerisms. Please help ...

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