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June 18, 2004



As a mom of four kids I have seen many examples of separation anxiety. And there are many ways to deal with it, from leaving abruptly to staying for awhile... I personally have been most comfortable with daycares, preschools or schools where parents are welcome to drop in/visit/participate at anytime. As I am paying for these services, I think I have the right to check in to see how my kids are doing, including spending time with them. And I shouldn't have to make an appointment to see my own child. (Not that I did it regularly!) But once a month I would. In fact, my kids attended an alternative school (kindergarten - grade 6) where parents were expected to actively volunteer in the classroom one half-day per month, so the teacher could get more done. I think many preschools run this way too. The more adults present the better! Anyway, good luck.



When my oldest daughter was two, we moved her to a new daycare and loved the fact that we could walk her in and stay for as long as we needed to "ease" her transition. She would cry and beg me to stay, I would, and after 20-30 minutes either she would decide to do something more fun with her friends, or I would be too late and have to go. Every day was an ordeal, even though each afternoon she begged to stay longer.

Now, we attend a Montessori school, where drop off works much differently. You pull up outside the school and wait your turn. The assistant helps your child out of the car, they walk inside, and you drive away.

The first few times were hard - she yelled, clung to the car seat, and cried - heartwrenching stuff - but I could see, through my rear-view mirror, her holding her teacher's hand and running inside to class.

Another thing they do at this school is keep the parent separate from the classroom - not b/c they don't want us involved, or around - there are many community events and ways to participate. But the classroom is a sanctuary for the kids where they can expect routine and safety, and no disruptions. Twice a year each family gets to observe - one parent can sit in the class for 20 minutes and quietly watch and/or take notes.

Anyway - all this to say I've been able to do it both ways, and while the first school helped me feel like I was doing the right thing by staying, the second has helped me see that I'm doing the right thing for HER by leaving.

None of which helps you - do what feels right for you and your daughter!


I have to say, Emma's quickly getting worse instead of better. It's not just a problem with dropoffs -- she cried the whole way over on Friday, so there was no way I could get away before the tears started. I had to carry her in, sobbing already. And I didn't stay because I wanted to, but because I couldn't get her to let go.

And now it's to the point where she's crying at home anytime the subject of school comes up. She says she doesn't have any friends, too. The whole thing breaks my heart. I know it's probably just an adjustment period and there's not much we can do about it, but I'm going to visit the school at lunch today -- a day when Em's not there -- to see if the teachers and I can come up with a plan that might help.


I nanny for a little girl who is now 4. She used to scream when her mommy went to work and she did everything in her power to make them stay. I had to tell them that as soon as they go, she will calm down. I will be able to direct her attention to something else. She later adjusted to her preschool great because they had learned to just leave her. The more talk about what a great day she had, the more she wanted to go. She is transferring to a new school and did not want to go. We talked about all the great fiends she will make and she brought up some old friends that are going to the new school, too. She got so excited about going. She can't wait until Monday!!


As a daycare provider I can say that there are some children that simply have a more difficult time with the transition. Remember that she's not asking you to taker her with you, she's asking you to stay. She enjoys preschool but she loves being with her mommy too and she probably doesn't understand why she can't have both together.

I agree that the transition should be quick as it seems better for the child. I usually take the child from the mother or father and we go watch the parent leave out my picture window. We wave goodbye and we talk about when mommy or daddy will be back. I haven't ever had a child cry for more than a couple of minutes before they are off getting involved in some activity.

With consistency the transition will get easier, I promise :)


When I was in my early 20's I worked in a childrens' house on a kibbutz in Israel. Eight two year old children slept in the house where I worked. Every morning at 8am the parents came to have breakfast with their child. When it was time to leave, some of the kids had a fit. They played their parents good. These were not bad children they were just children! One child pitched a fit and his mom left 15 times before she really left. The second she actually walked away, her child was off and playing with another child.
If you can hug and kiss your child and just walk away the first time I am sure it will be ok. The drama isn't good for either one of you. And the guilt is worse.


EVery morning, I wonder if it's going to be one of those days. As long as I quickly put her down and get her involved in something she likes, it's good. But there are still those days. And I still feel terrible. But as always, I peek from outside the fence to make sure she's ok. Usually Mondays are the worst. But every afternoon I pick her up and she's having a blast. I feel for you, yes, I do!


You know, my oldest son used to pull that with me every single day. Finally, the teacher/caretaker said, "If you would please just leave, he'll stop." And you know what? He did. It's all a guilt trip...and it worked! So try not to let it get you. Kids are wonderful about this. And all those times when I would "just leave" so he'd stop? He's a fine and healthy boy with no emotional scars.

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