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Settling In


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We have a 3 year old boy who started with us back in March. At the time, he was only 2 and had never been separated from mum.

 

The family are from Thailand, and English is very limited, although we can understand now a few words he says. Mum is trying very hard to help us with translations and we do feel like we are getting somewhere with this now.

 

The family went on holiday to Thailand and we're away for three months. They have recently returned to pre-school. The child has since turned 3 and is accessing 12 out of his 15 hours funding.

 

The trouble is we cannot separate him and mum at all. Initially we thought it was Mum's own anxieties about leaving him. The key person has been fantastic building up a relationship with both of them, he will now move away from mum during the session and play in various areas, although he has to be close to the KP, which is obviously fine. This has been going on for 2 weeks now, so today we suggested that mum go into the office and see how the child reacted.

 

Mum was keen to leave him which was a positive step forward. The child played happily for almost 15 minutes before he realised she hadn't returned and then he became very distressed, screaming and crying, running around and at one point, tried to climb through the railings to the outside area. KP was with him everywhere he went, reassuring, trying to distract. After 15 minutes of this, we called mum back and when she returned, he was hitting her and kicking her, screaming and shouting at her.

 

Mum was actually ok about all of this, and told KP that the child was "angry" with her for leaving him. She offered to take him home, he screamed and kicked some more and demanded he stayed and played but by now he was too worked up.

 

In hindsight, we probably could have handled this better, but I'm not sure how. Mum has been with him to every session, they very rarely stay the whole time. We need to develop strategies for supporting him in his settling period but it is really difficult because he just refuses to be separated for any length of time. I need some bright ideas please!!

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I would definitely not allow her to leave him again without telling him that she is going. He separated from her voluntarily to play in a different part of the room because he felt secure that she wouldn't leave. That will take some time to repair now.

 

There was another thread about this a few days ago where someone suggested that the mother and child leave after a short time every day until the child decides that he or she would like to stay and play. It's a bit of reverse psychology and sounds like it could work very well.

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I would definitely not allow her to leave him again without telling him that she is going. He separated from her voluntarily to play in a different part of the room because he felt secure that she wouldn't leave. That will take some time to repair now.

 

There was another thread about this a few days ago where someone suggested that the mother and child leave after a short time every day until the child decides that he or she would like to stay and play. It's a bit of reverse psychology and sounds like it could work very well.

 

sometimes small children have not yet acquired the understanding that when someone is out of sight they still exist...ie will come back...so it is important that goodbyes are said....and that mum reinforces that she will be coming back. This child has had loads of transitions and so it isnt surprising they are confused and angry compounded by the language barriers. Also it has to be remembered that in some cultures (like Japan) the mother and child are seen as one...that is with no seperate identity hence why they struggle with our culture of autonomy and throwing small children into institutions as soon as they can walk. I think I would ask mum how she would like to proceed after all she is the expert on her child, she is the one who can communicate best with the child and try and go with whatever suits her. If she decided to stay for each session is that such a bad thing if it allows the child to settle? What is important though is that whatever is decided is consistent....otherwise poor little mite will only end up even more confused.

 

We have found that getting parents to bring in photos which we then laminate into an A$ sheet which the child can carry around with them, point to and talk about (if able) as well as dummy, raggie, teddie or any other comforter can help a child get through this....what doesnt help though is when the adults do that "its for their own good" bit.....we cannot know what this is doing to the child in terms of stress and in the longterm that is a hopeless position to be in for learning.

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