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Daycare Blues: Our daughter started daycare this week but instead of drop off time getting easier, it's getting worse. She was fine on day 1. Not so happy on day 2. Horrible on day 3 and absolutely wretched today. I did stay to see how she reacted to the other kids as they came in, and she actually ran away from one little boy who breathes very loudly. Her caregivers also noted to me that she is the only real verbal (very, very verbal at that) child in her age bracket - and the best "listener" as well. Prior to this, she's been social with strange kids, but mostly those a little older who can draw her in. My question is: Is increasing negativity normal? Could her being the oldest/biggest/most verbal child have something to do with her not wanting to go? Last night she told me, "No more play school! I don't like." FTR: She's 22.5 months now, so she's in with the pre-tots.”

13 replies so far...

  • My son has been going to "school" (daycare) since he was 4 months old. We changed daycares when he was 2 yo and it was so hard to see him go through the adjustment. Just as you described, our little guy did great the first day, but the following couple of weeks were really hard for him. The teachers reassured me that it usually takes about 30 days for these little tots to fully adjust. They encouraged hubs and I to sit down and read a story for a minute or so before hugging him and leaving. They said he would cry for a few minutes and then he was absolutely fine.

    I feel your pain. But it will get easier. Just give it more time and she should adjust just fine. Toddlers are total creatures of habit and do have a bit harder time adjusting at first, but she'll be fine. My son LOVES his school now and we couldn't be happier that we made the change.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Stacey on 9th March 2010

  • You are reminding me that the beginning of daycare was so hard. My oldest daughter could hardly eat anything they served, and she started getting sick (very unusual for her to succomb to a bug), losing weight (she was already very slim), and her hair was falling out. That was kind of alarming. It did work out with just a few adjustments. But I remember how it felt when these totally unexpected things started happening. Between that, and the "progress reports" saying my kids couldn't do things they'd been doing at home for a year or more, and the behavior reports ("didn't want to sing the song" type stuff), it was definitely a mental adjustment for me as well as the girls. But I can say that it didn't take too long before we were all pretty enamored with the "school." I hope your experience goes that way too.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by SKL on 26th February 2010

  • SKL: Thank you. I really hope things improve soon too. We're at the end of week two with no real end in sight yet.

    We do have the special rituals each morning and evening (on our way in and home) as she's actually quite familiar with the base itself (it's where we go grocery shopping and she's spent a lot of time in my office and our flight's training area). It's so strange really - she loves coming here, and even saying good morning to the fish in the huge tank in the lobby of the care center (one of the things she looks forward to). It's the classrooms she can't stand.

    I'm going to talk to the director Monday about moving her up. The negative behaviors have spilled over to home and she's starting to withdraw a little there too. Thankfully, we can catch that and mitigate and it works well for now, but I don't want it affecting her entire day/night/life. Her pedi and her best friend's mom, an ECD specialist who knows her well (she watches her for one overnight a month) agree she shouldn't be in that age group. So, if they'll agree to move her, and there's space, I'm hoping that will help.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Phe on 26th February 2010

  • I hope things get better soon. That must be so hard. My oldest daughter had a really rough time transitioning to her nanny, and I felt bad for all three of us. It did work itself out. When they are feeling insecure, it can help to give lots and lots of extra hugs when you are with her, outside of school. Also, maybe you could come up with a special, affectionate ritual connected with going to school, that would give her comfort that all is as it should be. (She may end up guiding you on this, as my kids always have with bedtime rituals.) Good luck!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by SKL on 25th February 2010

  • kaybeejaeng: Thank you so much for that insight. Her providers are getting concerned, but we've all agreed that she needs a couple more weeks - and I do think that she'd do better with older children. She'll go right up to them when she sees them in the hall or we're out in the city, but the kids her age or younger hold no interest for her.

    I do understand the "playing it up" piece of leaving - but according to her providers, it's not ending soon and it's getting worse still. Wait and see...

    SKL: Worse than last week. She's spent the last couple of days crying in a corner and won't come out to play unless someone gets her. They're telling me that as soon as the activity even starts to wind down, she just goes back to the quiet corner to be by herself. We're going to keep watching for now.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Phe on 24th February 2010

  • How are things going this week?

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by SKL on 24th February 2010

  • Hi there, I am a care provider and thought I might just put in some suggestion.
    In answer to increasing negativity, yes, they do get that, its part of the growing process to get steadily harder to settle until they break through the barrier that comes from them imagining you won't be coming back.
    The kids I care for still have moments even after 4 years of providing care, its natural to have a bad day. As long as you stick with the status quo and make sure you leave the same time and come back the same time she will get used to that side of things.
    As for not socialising, often older kids are the key to socialised younger children, they tend to direct the play more which is very reassuring for younger kids who haven't fully developed their ability to start or join play with kids of their own age group.
    This doesn't make it any easier for you but honestly she is most likely getting used to the environment in her own way. Slow and steady wins the race and often kids the same age group can be more intimidating than a group of various ages.
    Just remember another thing, there are new things we can all learn from situations, give her time and be consistent, if you still feel things aren't working for her in two or three weeks then maybe reassess.
    Most kids play up the most for their own families and you can walk out that door mid tantrum and they'll be over it before you reach the end of the driveway!!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Kaybeejaenq on 23rd February 2010

  • This can be normal. My daughter did fairly well at daycare initially, then spent 5 months at home while my husband looked for work. When we sent her back (with many of the same children as before) she did great for 2 days, then it was awful. Drop offs were bad and she was quieter at school than before. It took awhile, and I started worrying even though she didn't seem to be completely unhappy. But it did change - first she did the not wanting to go and not wanting to leave routine. Now for the most part she is happy.

    As for drop-offs, are they helping you leave? I would try not to stay, but many days I needed help. When the teachers helped it made a huge difference from the days they didn't.

    I do think a change in rooms could help, but it could just be a reaction to the change. Good luck, I know it can be difficult.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Stacey S on 23rd February 2010

  • One thing I think it is very important when you start daycare is to be REALLY confident about it. What I mean is that you, in the first place, have to be 100% positive that daycare, nad that daycare in particular, is the best place for your daughter to be. Nothing elese will work if you don't sort this out, in my opinion.
    Kids feel so well what it is in our mind: your daughter is just putting you to trial, askiing you with her behavior: is it really the right place for me, mummy?
    My daughter has never really been social in her forst 2 years. She used to spend time with me, the nanny, and sometimes with her father. When we started daycare in september, I was a bit worried, but at the same time, I could not afford a full time baby sitter anymore, and I thought it was really time that we got into a "normal" routine, with the 2 of us goign out in the morning, drop her off at daycare, go to work, finish, fetch her and so on.
    The firs days I was there with her, but then the caregivers suggested I should leave, and she was just waving good bye and nothing else. She really enjoys the activities, and even if sometimes in the morning when I leave her, she does just a little bit of crying, I just say bye, and smile and leave.
    Be confident!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Sara on 22nd February 2010

  • Another thing I thought of. One of my daughters is very independent-minded and she does not take well to being told what to do. She doesn't tantrum or anything, but protests simply by "opting out." She pretty much "opted out" of most teacher-directed group activities when she was your daughter's age. She would either sit like a bump on a log, or do it her own way. To get her to "want" to do anything, she needed to think it was her idea. From what I've seen you write before, your daughter is used to directing her own play, so now she might be struggling with how to digest being "told" to do something by a relative outsider- even if it's her favorite thing to do.

    Like your daughter, mine is extremely bright. She was constantly watching, learning, analyzing - even while staring dead ahead with a scowl. (I recall the Kindermusik teacher's shock when my kid forgot herself and started talking excitedly about a bumblebee in the teacher's book - I think it was the first and last time she ever spoke in that class.) She'd come home and play "teacher" with her sister, going through all the motions and singing the songs. So I didn't worry about it. I do warn her new teachers that she is like this, because I don't want them to dismiss her as dumb, uninterested, or incapable of paying attention. They need to approach her a little differently, but it works out.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by SKL on 20th February 2010

  • SKL: There has been talk in the last couple of days about giving her two more weeks with the pre-tots and then moving her up.

    They do not want parents to sit in for long as it has tended to make the drop offs worse, rather than better. And unfortunately, this care is on a military installation. With us having only one car and me being the only ID holder now, it's not feasible to have her father drop her off, drive home, then come back to pick us both up at the end of the day. We did think about that.

    It's funny, she never had a lovey until this week! Now, the "friend" from her crib that she chose to accompany her has not left her side, even at home. But they are letting her keep it (thankfully).

    And yes, we do tell her exactly what's going to happen as you suggested. I guess my main concern was increasing negativity couple with increasing (and for her, abnormal) anti-social behaviour - but you are right in that it's only been 4 days. Thanks for the thoughts and insight!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Phe on 20th February 2010

  • Any chance they might put her in with the 2-year-olds a little early?

    When I signed my kids up for their school, they originally told me they'd put them in with the 24-30 month old class temporarily, to get them acclimated to the school, even though they would both be over 30 months when they started. I told them where the girls were developmentally, and they ended up putting them in the "young 3s" class, which was appropriate. For children who don't do great with transitions, I don't think moving them from class to class over a short time period is ideal. Why have them form an attachment, only to break it after a month or two?

    I wouldn't worry about her not playing with the other kids just yet. It sounds age-appropriate, particularly before she really knows the kids.

    My kids balked at the finger "painting" (smearing) when they started preschool at 2.5. They were past the stage of mindlessly smearing goo, and it made them feel uncomfortable. They figured out that it wasn't going to kill them, so they tolerated it, but never did like it. Thankfully that particular activity didn't follow them to the next classroom.

    My kids' preschool encourages the parents to sit in on the classes for 3 days, to help the child get acclimated. I was skeptical, but this turned out to be a good idea for us. Another thought is, would this go better if your husband dropped her off, given that he's been her primary caregiver up to now? Also, can she keep her "lovey" with her at school, at least for a few days? Is there anything else you can suggest/lend to the teachers to comfort/please her when you are not there - such as her favorite music CD, book, or snack?

    Structure aside, the way I used to manage my shy kid's transitions was to tell her exactly what was going to happen, in sequence, until she was back in her comfort zone. Of course, it also helped that her sister was with her in the class.

    But to answer your question about increasing negativity - I think it's normal for the short period of time you're talking about. Four days is still just the beginning. I suspect you will begin to see more acceptance once she gets more familiar with the new routine and finds a few things she likes about it. (Don't worry, she wil.)

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by SKL on 19th February 2010