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Have I Made The Right Decision Over A Child Not Settling?


Guest terrydoo73
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Guest terrydoo73

I have posted about this particular child before but on Friday made a decision which my Deputy is questioning - at 10 pm last night!

 

The child has come with mum or granny every day since September for her 2 1/2 hour session and they have stayed every session (mum or granny). We tried the separation for a few minutes and also for a longer spell. On both occasions child screamed and cried the whole time they were away. My deputy was of the opinion that if it took until next June this was how it should be despite consulting with another Playgroup Leader who said the same as me - get rid of mum and granny asap or you will never get this child to bond and settle with us.

 

We were at a meeting with Playgroup Leaders and workers on Thursday night and my Deputy tackled this problem once again with a different leader who has had years of experience working in the Playgroup. She told her quite plainly that the child was having us and her mum over a barrel, manipulating everyone around us. I decided right that is it mum has to go so I talked to mum yesterday and she was in full agreement no questions about it whatever we wanted was OK with her.

 

Now we have another child who is not settling at present and can have violent tendencies (another posting) so it takes a good bit of one to one with him to get him to calm down too. Then to add to the mix we have a new child starting on Monday - we had to go with this one as we have lost 2 children recently and had the space.

 

My Deputy as I say rang me last night at 10 pm questioning whether we should ring the mother of this child who is not settling and say we have decided not to do this on Monday but wait for a while yet. We have an Early Years consultant coming in on Tuesday primarily to help us with the child who has violent tendencies and also to help with the other children's reaction to him. My Deputy is concerned that this Early Years Advisor will land in and see the place in uproarr - one child in the corner screaming and crying about wanting mum, another one snatching, kicking and lashing out at everyone and anyone who is in his way, another child who is frightened out of their wits and the rest of the children pinned against the wall scared out of their wits.

 

Have I made the right decision as Playgroup Leader? I am worrying myself sick about this one as I don't like the idea of my Deputy not backing me up I think. Yes I know this child crying may upset the other children but what can we do in the circumstances - I mean we can't tell our Early Years consultant to deal with it, it is our Playgroup after all and we are the ones on the ground on a day to day basis.

 

Please help before I have another sleepless night!

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First I would like like to say that you have my sympathy, you only need one upset child and the session can be chaotic. I don't think your early years advisor will be shocked.Personally I don't have a problem with mums staying as long as they either join in and play with their own child and give attention to other children. Once their child gains more confidence i ask mum to sit to the back of the room and do jobs for me. Once the child is ok with this I ask mum to go out of the room for a few minutes to wash up etc. I have had parents stay for 6 months and they have become staff members. Years ago we had a mum staying for months until the childs dad bought her in because mum was ill and the child let dad go and stayed by themselves after that.Unfortunately i don't have any mums that are willing to stay they are happy to leave child screaming but this also does work in the end also. We had many 2 year olds ( in nappies) screaming in september and we had to settle them. They are all settled now and toilet trained. Boths ways work but I still feel that its less traumatic for the child to do it the first way. How does the child react when mum is there and is it spoiling childs session.How many sessions does the child come and how old are they? Good luck in what ever you decide to do!!

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Guest terrydoo73

This child has said to mum and granny at home that she is staying by herself at Playgroup today but when she gets to Playgroup she turns around and leads mum by the elbow! Granny has to practically sit on the floor and be by her side all the time - there is no playing with other children by mum or child although we have noticed her leaving mum a few times but it is literally a second or two. We just cannot seem to work out why she takes these panic attacks because she is so happy within a few minutes of mum being back again. I really personally think it is a manipulative thing and whilst I sympathise that children need this reassurance surely it is better to nip it in the bud now?

 

I will be suggesting to the new childs mum to stay with him on Monday if she wants reassurance but I can nearly guess that the mum will say no as her child has been out on his own quite a lot so doesn't need the support. We are so small in terms of room for everyone and I know it only takes one to upset the applecart - there are 3 adults to what will be 11 children on Monday. Yes it might make things difficult but when do we break the cycle? Mum of this child has a baby of 6 months who is at home and she has said to me so many times that it is awkward having to come with this child every day - she is looking to us all the time for advice and we are conscious of her presence in terms of us having to deal with the rest of the children and what we say to them.

 

If this was say a spot inspection I keep thinking what would be asked of us? What are you doing to get to know this child? How do you intend to deal with the separation anxiety when it eventually happens? Are you letting this child dictate how Playgroup is run in that her mum and no other mum comes in each day? Also we are conscious that we haven't really got to know this child in terms of what she likes to play with and will return to every day. We have so many problems with the other children - parents are coming back and mentioning the child who has violent tendencies and one has even told her own child to "stay away from him he is bad news". I mean how do you respond to this from parents? We know we have a lot of work to do with all the children and teaching them to respect each other and their differences but where do you start? This is why we have called in our Early Years Advisor to give us support and help. Who else do we turn to for help in these situations?

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Okay i think the first thing you should do as Playgroup leader is tell your Deputy that unless it is an emergency she is to only call you during working type hours and 10oclock at night is certainly not within that.

Secondly who ever comes to your setting, advisors, inspectors are and should be more concerned with how you are dealing with the situations you describe and not the uproar you say you are in.

 

All settings have a period when children may be unsettled due in some part to separation, new surroundings or others etc.

The child that is telling mummy and granny that she is going to stay at playgroup today, is probably only saying that because thats what they want to hear.

Also some children cry because they have let their guard down and gone off and then realise what they have done and react this way.

In my experience sometimes reverse psychology works best.

So keep telling her and get mum and granny to say the same at home that they don't want to go home and are going to stay and play. Keep doing this until gradually she will hopefully go off on her own accord to play with your lovely things.

When you take the pressure off children generally come in alot calmer, instead of waiting for that dreadful wrench from the main carer.

Keep giving lots of praise when they go to try something.

One of the things you might be able to introduce in the future and moving forward is to have an induction period of a half-term before they start.

We have successfully ran our setting this way and had 33 new children in September, joining an existing 29 and another 4 in October and only one of those is still crying on separation.

We invite our new to be children to visit us once a week with parents for an hour between the hours of 10 to 11 for the morning session, 2 to 3 for the afternoon. Where they have the opportunity to have a play, meet the staff and get use to their surroundings.

So when they start proper as it were they come bounding in the building keen, happy and its normally the parents crying on separation.

Might be worth a thought.

Lastly we all take our work home as it were, thats what makes us reflective practitioners of which you are one, but try not to let it encroach too much on your family time and a good nights sleep.

Big hugs

bridger

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Guest terrydoo73

So I take from this Bridger that you think I have made the wrong decision in telling the mum not to come in with her on Monday??

 

We have been advised not to have any children new to the setting after Christmas - nothing has actually been said about a settling in period and in fact of the 11 children starting in September this is the only one child that has had a problem with mum going. We even asked mum to say to the child - no other mum stays with their child this is the way it is in playgroup - so therefore this is why I think the child is dictating and this is what other playgroup leaders have said to me. They have worked the system of children crying like ours and in their experience it is easier longer term to say OK mum off you go now come back in 2 1/2 hours time and your child will be fine. I mean what harm can they actually come to apart from making a fuss which draws more attention to themselves and possibly making themselves physically sick??

 

I am getting the impression that I have made a bad decision and this is causing me to reflect. I did ask my Deputy to approach another Playgroup Leader at the beginning of last month who she was friendly with and she said the exact same as I said - the mum should be gone after a month of continually coming in every day.

 

It is very difficult to give a child praise for doing something when all she is doing is standing there jumping up and down screaming and crying I want my mummy get her back now. We put up with it one morning for half an hour and it was extremely distressing to us and the other children in the Playgroup. If this happens on Monday what do we do - go back on what we said and shout after mum to come back or just ignore her and get on with the other children?

 

Yes I let it encroach on my family time and perhaps from now on, whereas I felt I might have got help on a forum such as this I might just have to decide to bottle things up and seek help elsewhere.

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No Terrydoo73 it was never my intention to suggest you have made the wrong decision and unfortunately caring for children is so complex that one way doesn't necessarily fit all.

Please continue to come on here for a rant or advice or suggestions and thats all that mine was, i apologise if you have taken it the wrong way.

I just felt if you have tried the option of mum/nanny going and she was not settling then maybe you might have to start from scratch again rather than have an upset child all morning as well as the other children you are trying to care for.

No don't go back on what you have said to mum let her go, see how she is and perhaps suggest she comes back a little earlier.

Also if she is standing their jumping and screaming she certainly won't keep that up for the whole time, in between if you can say....... would you like to come and play, or look at this....................it may just distract her enough to come and have a look.

I know its incredibly distressing watching children such as this, but your calm, caring attitude will play dividends in the end.

Kind regards

bridger

xx

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I've a child who started in September who is only just coming in without screaming the place down. Daddy brings him and we've been able to hear them coming from the top of the hill - it's that bad! But 'good for Daddy' he's persevered even when he's been distressed too. We chatted about it in week two and decided that if he adopts the 'this is just how it is' attitude and make out that he's not doing anything exciting that the child is missing, ie vacuuming, cutting the grass etc.

 

For this child, this approach seems to be best, we keep it as 'businesslike' as we can, calm, short and sweet. Daddy helps him take his shoes off, put his slippers on, hang his coat up and then says 'Right B****, I'm off to do the vacuuming, you have fun and I'll see you after snack' hug, kiss and off. Child is making noise (no tears) and trying to hang on. I take his hand and say 'C'mon, lets go and put the kettle on because Mrs J will be here in a bit and she'll be wanting her cuppa!' and I take him into the kitchen whilst Daddy goes into the other room towards the door. Initially, he used to hang about to check that the crying did stop, but now he knows it will, he goes straight away. If I get the child busy and kind of let the noise wash over me, and keep talking quietly to him so he has to turn his volume down to hear, then he stops quite quickly. We'd got to the point of making a visual timetable, but didn't do it with him, as he's worked out the routine anyway.

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It is a tricky situation Terrydoo73 and I can understand your frustration, but I think you have been necessarily harsh with Bridger, who as far as I can see, only offered you some alternative strategies for sorting out your situation.

 

I posted a similar thing a little while back, a child who was struggling to settle, mum coming with him everyday. I didn't get many responses, but the ones I did get made me reflect on how the situation had been handled up until then. One of the comments was along the lines of does it really matter how long mum has to stay for and having thought about it, actually no it doesn't as far as I'm concerned. We tried to "force" the issue and ended up with a very distressed little boy who had, up until then, been more than willing to come into pre-school, who now could be head screaming down the path on the approach to the building.

 

We decided to persevere with mum coming in. The child eventually began to calm down and started coming in happily again. I appreciate it is difficult when you have a constant parent presence. I know myself how self-conscious you can end up feeling when talking to the children or just carrying out routine jobs. It got to a stage where the child would enter the pre-school with mum. He directed her to the back of the room where she had to sit. We suggested she brought a book with her, to try and show the child that actually mummy sitting there reading was really, really boring and he could be having so much more fun with his key person and peers playing with all the lovely resources. This took a bit of time, but eventually, he started to move away from mum. Don't get me wrong, he would constantly look to check she was there but he did start moving away.

 

The next step was to ask mum to tell the child that she was finding it too noisy to read her book in the room with him. She told him she would be going into the next room to read it. We took him with her, showed him where she was going to be. Mum handed him her house keys, which he carried everywhere. He asked to go and check she was still there, so we took him. This went on for a while until one day, mum forgot her book and had to go home to collect it. But it was ok, because he could hold onto the keys so she didn't lose them, plus he had his comfort objects.

 

The point I'm trying to make is that on reflection, we decided that the negative aspects of having his mum in the room with us all the time, was nothing compared to the positive aspects of him finally settling down, happy to come in and take part. Much of it is trial and error, finding a strategy that suits you and works well for the child and their family and it isn't easy. I have a child at the moment who follows me around everywhere and if she can't see me, she cries and asks for me all the time. We are just about at the point where I can sit at one side of the room whilst she has snack but she has to be able to see me. I have started developing a relationship between her and her secondary key person and she will (not always) go willingly to her so we are making progress.

 

As for the comment about the mum being gone after a month, I am surprised at this. Just because we feel ready to move on, doesn't necessarily mean the child is ready to move on.

 

With regard to your original post, I think it would be a poor show if your deputy didn't at least back you up in front of the parent. It sounds to me like she doesn't support your decision. Actually, it sounds to me like she thinks she should be making the decisions. Why else would she be ringing you at 10:00pm?!

 

I really hope you can come to some kind of common ground where you are both happy and the child and her family are happy too.

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Terrydoo,

I really sympathise with your situation.Please don't stop using this wonderful forum we are all here to help one another!

I think there are two seperate issues here ...one is your deputy seems to be undermining you.It is fine to disagree and i often think to have a little debate is healthy and in the long run will make you more certain of your decisions,you will have had to justify and therefore carefully look at both sides!However your deputy should not be ringing at 10pm at night.Also at the end of the day you are the leader and sometimes it just has to come down to the fact that you have made the decision and the buck stops with you.Being in charge sometimes means you are not the most popular person !

 

As for the child who is not settling,there is no one size fits all solution.

We ask parents to stay for the first session then after that try to follow the "you know your child best " so some parents have stayed for several/lots of sessions. Others will ask key people to take a crying child .We stress that we will ring as soon as a child is settled or if after a short time we feel they can not be consoled.

 

Only once you get to know the child and parents can you begin to form a solution.some children are very genuinely suffering separation anxiety others i feel are affected by a parents feelings of helplessness they just don't know what to do for the best.

I have families in my setting that when one parent drops off they use a set routine EG lets hang up your coat,find your key person,hug,kiss see you at lunchtime.The child is fine.

The 2nd parent comes in worrying (little j.... did not want to come,hovers ,we approach hello J...shall we go and find (whatever their favourite activity.We say quietly when you are ready we can take over the parent indicates they wish to leave,keyperson supports the child to engage in play then parent loses their nerve and can't leave!

 

It is in that situation I would work to build the parents confidence to leave .

Only you know the parent and child best and we can only offer another point of view or a sounding board.

Finally your advisor is there to support and advise you and I am sure will have seen many similar situations.

Good luck .

Biker

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Guest terrydoo73

OK so I have been thinking about this a lot all afternoon - in fact nothing else.

 

I am conscious of causing stress to the other children in my setting as well as the stress on the individual child - also I guess the stress of us having to deal with the whole thing.

 

Yes I am constantly aware that my Deputy does undermine me and that came to a head last month when I thought it was back on line again - it was her suggestion and she told me to tell the parent so we were agreed within the setting but I am wondering why she feels we will not be able to cope with the whole thing now.

 

It is all trial and error - we have tried this before I know and it was awful to listen to the child, watch the others at the same time and despite what you might think the mum couldn't really care less if her child was upset as she kept telling the child to stop crying when she returned the last time. Mum has no qualms about leaving her child with us - it is the child that has the problem!! I really do think it is an attention seeking thing on the part of the child and if we could just get even a week over us never mind one day I think we will see a difference (I hope!)

 

I know I cannot speak from experience in terms of a formal Playgroup setting but I have been working with children in my own home for 10 years and yes I have seen a child extremely upset by mum leaving but in my experience the child soon realises that in fact it is ok that mum isn't there all the time. This child has been with us for 12 weeks, knows us and will talk to us one to one with mum present so is very familiar with everything and everyone. Again I have to ask the question what can she do to herself and if it does get to the stage that she makes herself physically sick we will deal with it and if necessary call mum back. The longer mum stays I think the harder it will be to make the break - nip it in the bud now and move on is what I feel.

 

I know this sounds like I am trying to justify my own actions and I apologise if that is offending anyone on here. Perhaps this will just be another nail in the coffin for my Deputy to feel that I am definately not meant to be the leader but she is!

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You sound like you have thought of nothing else! It is evident in your posts. You also sound like you are trying to do the best thing by many people.

 

I think there are 2 main issues here. The first is that your deputy appears to be constantly undermining you to the point where you are now constantly questioning your own judgements. Questioning yourself is good, in that encourages the reflective practice we hear so much about, but it sounds to me like your reflections are leading to negative outcomes. I am a deputy in a pre-school and at times I don't agree with my manager's decisions but at the end of the day, I accept that she is the manager and therefore has the overall say. I am fortunate though in that my manager will ask my opinion or judgement on just about everything (I'm not suggesting you don't by the way!) so I don't feel the need to get niggled by her decisions. I think you need to stamp your authority on this issue. She needs to be under no illusions who is in charge. Phonecalls relating to work at 10:00pm on a Friday night are unacceptable, unless of course it is an emergency or unless you and her have the kind of working relationship where that is acceptable to you. That is the case in my case. We often phone each other late in the evening with things to discuss but that is often because late in the evening is better after our own children are in bed and there is time to talk and think about work!

 

The second issue appears to be how best to progress for the sake of the settling child and the rest of the children in your setting. Obviously you know the child best and you aren't the leader for no reason! In terms of your question "What can she do to herself?" I personally would find it very difficult to be involved in a child getting so upset that they made themselves physically sick. No physical harm would come to the child, but I would be questioning the possible emotional damage being caused by proceeding with a forced separation. You mention that if she does make herself sick, you will call mum back. You also mention that you believe this child is manipulating the situation by her behaviour. You could be setting a dangerous precedent whereby she cries so much that she does make herself sick, you call mum, child calms down. The next time she comes into the setting, the same thing happens and so on and so on. You then not only have the settling in issue to contend with, but the extra "stress" of a new and undesirable behaviour. I believe you will end up back at square one with this one, and it seems that although progress is slow, it is progress nonetheless.

 

What are mum's views on the matter?

 

Try not to beat yourself up any more this weekend and definitely seek the advice of the advisor, but remember it is only advice!

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Guest terrydoo73

Just wanted to provide an update on my decision over settling a child. The child did get upset on Monday but settled reasonably quickly and this was repeated both yesterday and today. We had an Early Years Advisor in with us yesterday who felt the whole session went really well and was full of praise for both of us! She has suggested a time line for this child using real pictures of the children involved in play, snack time, singing rhymes, outdoor play etc and take the child to these pictures and show her what happens next.

 

We were also advised on the High Scope approach to conflict resolution, a course we both attended in January but never really implemented. So I am busy ready the book on this and printing out snippets to display on our walls to prompt us. Today I attempted it but one child walked away from me before I got very far!! I will just have to persevere and take a diary note to see if there is an improvement over a period of time.

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Yes, this is sounding great for you - well done! The photo timelines are brilliant and something we display in our nursery as a matter of course, for all children to refer to. I hope it all works out - I well remember when it took me nearly a term to tempt a child from his buggy, then out of his coat. Of course, after the holiday it took me half the term to get him back there!

 

You will get there, as you say, at a steady pace. We are all keen to know how you get on.

 

Sue

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Well done you!

 

I can't recommend the conflict resolution techniques highly enough. It will take a while to embed it into your practice, and you'll need to go through the process several times with children before eventually they'll become skilled at it themselves. It is crucial that the team implements the procedure consistently and routinely and some of the language and approaches seem a bit alien at first but keep going with it and the benefits will be huge.

 

Before you know where you are, the children will be resolving their own conflicts with little need for adult support. Well worth the investment in time and effort!

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Before you know where you are, the children will be resolving their own conflicts with little need for adult support. Well worth the investment in time and effort!

 

And to echo this comment it really is the most wonderful thing to see happening. Especially if it's with a child everyone labelled as "naughty".

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