We have recently changed my son's school as he graduated from a play-school to nursery, as he turns 3.5 years. He was very much excited about his new school and for the first few days he was very happy to go there and used to tell good things about his new school as well. However, in past 1 week suddenly his behavior started getting changed at home w.r.t. to his school and then for things at home.
He used to stay with his nany since he was 4 months old, while me and my wife used to go to office. However, recently he has started crying badly stating that either of us should be at home. Though last whole week we were going to office on and off (say for some hours) but that can not continue forever. He does not even like to go to school. Once when his baby-sitter was absent he went to a day-care and he was perfectly fine there. He spent 2 days there but now he does not want to go there to even play forget about spending whole day. He just wants either of us to be on his side.
I talked to his teacher and she complains that he is suffering from some kind of insecurity because of which he is not ready to adjust in the class. The same is being complained by his bus attendant. And now today in his summer camp the new teacher also mentioned the same.
When asked about something happened at school he tells different reasons like not enough good toys, other kids keep on crying, no good colors, someone hits him in the bus, etc but never complained about his teacher behavior. On the contrary he likes her very much. And she says that he never leaves her even for a minute. On probing more he just repeats that I cried because I keep on thinking of you or mommy.
I am very much worried and dont know how to build confidence in him.
Few more background information:-
- He is our first child.
- From past few days and also till now he has improved drastically on his social skills like talking to strangers, facings/playing with new kids, etc.
- He has too many toys at home and does not prefer to go to play outside or go for outings either.
- He always does self-counselling and wisely decides on good behavior and wrong behavior with positive or negative rewards attached to it.
This is called separation anxiety and is very common. I might suggest you google the phrase "separation anxiety and children" or "how to help a young child with anxiety" or "school and anxiety" or similar words/phrases. To put it bluntly, you are expecting too much from a three-year old child. Children that age require routine and consistency in their care-giving - two parents, a nanny, pre-school teacher, nursery-school teacher, baby-sitter, day care and now summer camp. Personally, I am surprised he is doing as well as he is.
Your son has already told you what the problem is "I cried because I keep on thinking of you or mommy". When children are involved, sacrifices are necessary. Sorry to be so blunt but I feel the problem lies with you and his mother. All the best ...
First of all thanks for the response. I really appreciate your blunt and frank response and really don't mind it. While I am searching for and working on the things to cope-up with separation anxiety. I would like to share some more background information.
- He has lived in separation with us during our office timings. Just to let you know on an average we spend almost 6 hours of quality time with him during weekdays for rest of the time he is either in school (4.5 hours), sleeping during day time (2.5 hours), spent time with baby sitter (2 hours) and sleeping at night (9 hours). And during the weekends we are with him from the time he wakes up till he sleeps.
- He has spent 1 year in the play school and barring initial few days when he wanted to bunk the school he was going to school without much of issues. (From June 2010 till March 2011)
- Till few months back he never used to go to even to our neighbors house alone but recently in past few months he has started even going to their home to play with their daughter.
- To our surprise, he has spent good quality time in the day care for 2 days just a few weeks ago, by his choice.
- First few days of his school were also relatively fine. He never cried or expressed his displeasure regarding going to school.
So I am not really sure if this sudden change in behavior can be related to routine or consistency in care-giving. I would still request you and other to provide your feedback/comments.
Separation anxiety tends of occur in most, if not all, children at about three years of age. It is a developmental milestone - I suppose like walking or talking - and a normal part of childhood growth and maturation. This is why babies cry when handed to strangers at about nine months of age - before that age, this crying probably did not occur. This is not about "insecurity"; it is about your son being three years old and going through a developmental stage as he grows up. Even children who have only one caregiver usually display some separation anxiety; but those children who have several caregivers and/or tend to be more sensitive/introverted have a more difficult time with this issue. Many professionals will use the term "terrible threes" rather than the "terrible twos" in part due to this increased anxiety at this critical age in the child's life.
It is not unusual for a child not to display anxiety as he/she begins a new routine in a new environment (as school) until a month or so later. I sometimes wonder if the child is so overwhelmed at first that he/she is unable to verbalize or act on the feelings of discomfort and unsafty that accompanies anxiety. Your son acted as expected (and I suspect he also has difficulty returning to school after a prolonged holiday or even a long week-end).
There is also one other possiblity - it is possible, although unlikely, that your son is being bullied. But, from your words, it seems that your son is shy and introverted socially, so I suspect anxiety is the issue here. All the best ...
I am working on the various tips that I could gather on net for separation anxiety. I have started seeing some improvements with his Summer Camp. I hope he is better soon but I know I have to be patient.
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