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Settling in - distressed at home but not with us


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We have had a few children recently who, whilst settling in, have been playing and bonding, smiling and talking, whilst with us but been really upset at home. Could it be some processing of a growing awareness of one's world being bigger due to their cognitive development - or are we doing something very wrong?

Edited by Wildflowers
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I have been thinking about this one before replying.

My thoughts were also what age are they and what are they saying at home that suggests it's your provision.

Are parents saying they are not wanting to come but when they arrive are happy to go off and play.

Are the parents commenting on children saying I didn't want to do that today.

I would certainly be observing these children closely, how many is a few, are the activities pitched too high etc.

We have a few at the moment that are playing up on separation from the parent. One of which is seeing her sister do the same at school and replicating it at our provision.

Let's us know how this goes it's an interesting one.:)

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Thanks! (Couldn't fall asleep for many hours last night because of this. The parents sent me a mail last night to tell that they are removing their child because the child's "personality" had changed.)

It happens to 3 to 3 1/2 year olds. They are usually coming only two mornings or days per week, so not much continuity. All well-loved and cared for children from a secure homes. Usually have not been left before. Most easily distracted during the day.

I just wonder if there is, cognitively / developmentally, lots of processing that some children of this age (3 - 3 1/2) need to do when beginning to be away from their parents?

Our provision is a little more challenging to settle into for some because we spend each morning outside - they're not going straight into play with toys in the morning (though our two year olds do this to help with separation, older new ones help one adult with practical jobs). In the woods there are different levels of challenge, appropriate to each ability and we are available to support.

Some stop crying after a minute when dropped off, some have cried a little during the day during the first week or two, particularly at group times.

This happens to about 3 new children each year. (Our groups are small. Haven't yet counted how many new starters we have each year, for percentage.) It all gets rather dramatic...

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Could it be that these children perhaps are so secure in themselves that they are able to manage their emotions during the day and secure at home so that they express it all there, for example by crying and saying that they don't want to go to preschool? And, because they feel that their emotional expressions are 'allowed' and responded to by their parents they are able to be joyous whilst in the group? And perhaps because these children have a secure space to express their mixed emotions, they are less likely to develop psychological and behavioural issues? (The 'not wanting to go' may mean 'not wanting to leave' - to stay at home, not leave one's comfort zone.)

Edited by Wildflowers
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... and very attentive parents.

I just feel to powerless when hearing parents' struggles. It goes on for a few weeks. Naturally they worry. Some have removed their child.

We don't worry about the children though, as we see attachment to us, involvement with what is going on and cooperation with the group.

Edited by Wildflowers
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no words of wisdom except to say my 8 year old boy is exactly the same at school

to get him to school is a physically draining experience most days and yet according to the teachers (and I really believe them) he is a happy and hard working little boy when there and when he comes out of school he's very cheerful you wouldn't believe its the same child that I have the battles with in the morning.


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now how did i know to ask that question!!!?????

Boys are often very routine based...they like to know exactly what is happening and when. They like things to be in the same place, to know where to find them etc etc (read men are from mars!!)

Now this presents several issues for you

Firstly they do not come every day...so how do they know what day they come and what is going to happen?

Are they going to see the same people?

Are their friends going to be there?

etc etc!

There are several things you can try

Firstly get the parents to understand that this is normal for boys (especially) ...sorry a bit stereotypical!

Second ...can they increase their sessions (this will make them more secure)

Thirdly ...do you have a uniform? this is a trigger for them so when they wear their uniform then they are coming to see you

Fourthly ....try to get the parents to do a visual timetable at home (this can be stick men or sophisticated...whatever you like!)

this will 'map' their day so that they know what happens and roughly when (so get up/have breakfast/go to nursery/come home have lunch ) this should alleviate some of the fear factor.

It will take a bit of time///parents need to be really positive about coming to see you and what they are going to do after

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