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My 4 yr old cries and is very quiet in daycare
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My 4 yr old cries and is very quiet in daycare

     My 4 yr old daughter has been going to daycare since she was 3.  She was fine the first two days & cried ever since thereafter when mom drops her off.  She doesn't socialize with the other kids and tends to cling onto the teacher and follows her around the class after my wife leaves.  Half days, five days a week, she went to school for a year.  At the end of the year at the parent teacher meeting we were told that they feel she wasn't progressing as they expected and wanted her evaluated.  The daycare wanted to evaluate her to see why she is not playing with the other kids.  Her verbal & motor skills are fine and she is smart for a 3 yr old because she picks up alot from her older sister & from what we teach to her older sister.  The whole year, she had said to us that she hates school & want to stay home.  She also said that she wants to go shopping with mommy instead of going to school.  We figured that it was just the daycare that she's not fond of so we switched her to another daycare for the summer program before she goes to PreK in September.  She's been attending half days at the new daycare summer program for 6 weeks now & she still cries when mom drops her off & some flare up here and there but stops fairly quickly.  She has improved in not clinging to the teacher as much but most importantly is that she still doesn't play and socialize like other kids does.  Everytime we ask her why she cries, her reply will be one day "I miss you mommy, that's why I cry" and another day would be "I cry because I miss daddy" and other days would be just "I really really really hate school".  Could it be that she really just doesn't like school?  Should I be concern that she is not playing with other kids.   Will she snap out of this phase?  I am losing alot of sleep and hair from this.
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She is doing somewhat better in the new setting, and this progress may continue. If not, you may well be witnessing the signs of separation anxiety disorder. Is there a family history of anxiety? At her age, it is unlikely that pharmacological treatment will be recommended, but a program of behavioral treatment might well be useful. It would be prudent to arrange an evaluation with a pediatric menatl health professional who can evaluate the situation and, at the very least, offer guidance about how best to manage it.
18 Comments
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Avatar_f_tn
I suspect you are dealing with anxiety issues - perhaps social and/or separation anxiety.  Anxiety is an inherited trait and if anxiety is the issue, it is not a phase nor will she "snap out of it".  But, anxiety is highly treatable - and the earlier the diagnosis, the better the prognosis.  To find more information, I might suggest you google the term "childhood anxiety" or phrases similar to educate yourself on this very common mental health issue.

Your child's pediatrician should be able to help you with this disorder.  If not, be sure to request a referral to a medical person with experience in anxiety issues. Many children suffer from this "invisible" disorder but as I said before, anxiety is highly treatable.  I wish you th best ...
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Avatar_n_tn
Thanks for your comment.  She is doing a little better in the new Daycare that we enrolled her in for the summer program.  She doesn't cling to the teachers as much, she answers when a question is asked, she participates in some activities but still doesn't play with the other kids.  She have had a tantrum or two during this summer period and when we ask her later why she did that in one of the incident, she said she had to go pee pee but she never told anyone nor helped herslef to the bathroom.  The teachers have done a great job but they too don't know why she is like that.  Mommy does spoil and pamper her and could that contribute to her attitude and anxiety?  Could her attending half days not help the progress?  Not looking forward to Sept. when she attends UPK in another Preschool.  Thanks.
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Avatar_f_tn
To answer your questions:

Tantrums/frustrations, bathroom issues, sleeping issues, sensory issues and social issues are behaviours common to anxiety.  Children who suffer from anxiety find it very difficult to "ask" a person in authority to use the washroom or to sharpen a pencil or even to clarify a question re an assignment.  I do not believe that "spoiling and pampering" a child contributes to anxiety (research tends to indicate that anxiety is an inherited trait).  Half days at school might help (or they might not); however, some form of "intervention" might be wise (arriving at school with your child before the other children or staying after school for a short while in the empty room or having a parent "assist the teacher" some of the time during class, etc. - these examples tend to help the child feel more comfortable in a scary environment).  And no, teachers are not versed in "medical issues" and if your daughter is suffering from anxiety, then her parents will need to "direct" the school staff on how to best "instruct" her.  You might wish to google the phase "easing school jitters" for more information on how to best help your child prepare for school this fall.

If your child is suffering from anxiety, keep in mind that there is no "magic cure" for anxiety, but it can be managed and controlled.  Most children need guidance for this and (as the doctor stated above), a mental health specialist with experience in anxiety issues would be an excellent start.   Now the good news - anxiety is a disorder which can be managed and each year your child should be able to "handle" stresses easier and easier.  Also, children with anxiety issues tend to be compassionate and sensitive and creative and intelligent.  And, with proper treatment, anxiety can become almost "non-existent".  Relax, sleep well, keep your hair - (and if you have any other questions, feel free write - I wish you the best ....
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Avatar_n_tn
Your daughter sounds miserable. Why don't you take her home and cherish her? Are you mad? Will she ever be 4 again? Sorry if this sounds harsh - I think you are being foolish. xx kitty
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Avatar_f_tn
If the poster's child is not suffering from anxiety, then your post is correct.  If the poster's child is suffering from anxiety (and Dr. Kennedy suggested that the poster seek out a pediatric mental health professional for an answer), then your post is not correct.  And if this child is suffering from anxiety, then of course she feels miserable; after all, she is ill.
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535822_tn?1389452880
This sounds like Seperation Anxiety , on your latest Post it sounds as if she is doing better, and the Half days will help, she needed less hours at school and more with you or her Mom.Sometimes Moms out of their love do pamper but I dont think that woulsd have contributed, time and the new school will help her with the Anxiety.
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Avatar_n_tn
I guess she had some separation anxiety in the beginning because the mere mention of school anytime gets her all uptight and anxious, crying, kicking and screaming "I hate school".  Now several weeks into day camp with all the fun activities, she doesn't do that anymore nor does she say she hates school but when asked if she likes school now, her reply was " I don't know" shrug her shoulders with a smile.  I guess that's good.  Right?  Mom now drops her off right away staying for no more than 2 to 3 minutes and she still cries but for a second or two but that's it.  There are still some out burst here and there but overall, a big improvement from what the teachers say.  The only thing is that she still does not play with the kids yet.  Am I expecting too much too fast?  Is this something outside of separation anxiety?  She is very shy like both her parents were when they were young.  Could this shyness be mis diagnose as part of separation anxiety?  I don't know.  The word disorder and illness sound so harsh. When we were kids, if we didn't like school, we had to deal with it.  Maybe our parents didn't know better but fortunately, we turned out ok.  Thank you all for your comments and advice.  It's a great help.
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Avatar_f_tn
Concern_Dad - Your questions:

shrug her shoulders with a smile.  I guess that's good.  Right?  - absolutely - baby steps (tiny baby steps) are the steps to managing these fears

does not play with the kids yet.  Am I expecting too much too fast? - yes

Is this something outside of separation anxiety? - perhaps social anxiety (but social/separation tend to be entwined; sometimes parts of the same beast) and frankly, the "name"  is irrelevant

She is very shy like both her parents - not surprised; anxiety is a genetic trait

Could this shyness be a part of separation anxiety - yes (or part of social anxiety)

fortunately, we turned out ok - so, I expect, will your daughter


The best thing you can do for your daughter at this time is understand this disorder (sorry, but it is what it is) by educating yourself and others who come in contact with her.  And then, patience, patience and more patience - it does take a long time; but unlike most other childhood disorders/illnesses/diseases, your daughter should get better and better as time progresses.  It sounds as if your family is on the right track.  I wish you the best ....
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Avatar_n_tn
Thank you for you comments and advice.  It's taking me several days to digest it and to see where to go and what to do next.  Also, I was waiting to see how my daughter is progressing in the new daycare.  So far, there are good days and there are bad days but either way she still cries everyday.  It's been six weeks of the 8 weeks camp and the teachers have given up on her and I'm not too happy about that.  They claimed they have tried everything and don't know what else to do.  Apparrently, there are times where my daughter gets into a crying tantrum stomping her feet sometimes and they tried comforting her, yelling at her or as they call it "talking to her firmly", ignoring her and now are punishing her by given her time out.  I'm not sure if that is the right approach and am very confuse now.  Is what she doing from separation anxiety or is she a stubborn little girl that don't take likely to what people tells her to do when she's mad and thus cries with the tantrum?  Oh by the way, she did played with some kids the other day and had a pretend swim race with another kid.  I am so confuse.
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Avatar_f_tn
Is what she's doing from separation anxiety  - probably and I doubt very much she is that stubborn - just trying to survive the best way she knows how.  Usually our anxiety-ridden children are so exhausted from "holding in" all this stress and tension that when the "dam breaks"; well, you know the result.  Often the "dam" does not break until the child returns home, which by the way can be so horrible. By the way, if the brain has to choose between cognitive (thinking) or emotional (feeling); it will always choose emotional.  That's the way humans are.

If anxiety is the issue, it takes a very long time for some children to be able to cope and manage their fears.  Our child suffers from severe anxiety and it took four years before she was able to speak in school; your daughter is crying and that is better than totally shutting down.  When our child became so distraught, we found the best thing was to remove her from the situation but not angrily or using punishment, just quiet removal.  Is there a safe, quiet place your daughter could retreat - perhaps a corner in the room with a table, colouring book and crayons?  Or a swing set if outside - often children with anxiety like to ease their tension on  a swing.  Is there someone at that school she trusts - staff member or peer who could accompany her?  Or would she prefer to be in the "safe place" by herself?  She might know this answer or she might not.  If she cannot answer this question, don't press her - she really won't know.

They claimed they have tried everything and don't know what else to do. - This is very common with teachers (I am a teacher and so I do know this to be true).  We had to educate our child's teachers about anxiety and how to best deal with her in school.  I expect you may be required to do the same - but you say - how do I do that?  That is where one needs a professional - to help the parents "sort out" how to best help their child.  If all children were the same, then the answer would be easy; but  each child is an individual and thus, each answer is somewhat different.

Go back and read the doctor's answer - if anxiety is the issue, you will need help.  Start first, as I stated before, by reading as much as you can about this disorder.  Make an appointment to see your family pediatrician, who if not experienced in anxiety disorders, should refer you to a specialist.  There is no magic wand or quick solution - but, there is hope.  I know how helpless and frustrated you feel; but your daughter is feeling more helpless and more frustrated as she is not able to control her emotions.  Her anxiety is forcing her body to act this way; it is not a conscious decision.  It's not easy but there is lots and lots of hope.  Again, if anxiety is the issue, patience, patience and more patience (and in our case it was years and she will always have to deal with some fears) but, there was no choice.   Of course you are confused - who wouldn't be.  It's a confusing disorder - but highly treatable.  Please contact your pediatrician - that is the first place to start.  Thinking of you ....
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Avatar_n_tn
Hello,
     The saga continues.  It just came to light that one of the teach raised her voice to her.  Is that wrong for a teacher to raise their voice at the kids?  I know that sometimes it gets crazy with 20 kids not listening but still.  My daughter is very sensative to that?  I know for a fact.  She was doing great with the teacher's assistance who likes to joke around and have a very sweet voice but the next day when she was out, the teacher raised her voice loudly to her telling her to "QUIET" to her becuase she was crying.  Now, she's back to not wanting to go back to school.  I'm pretty sure that's what happened to the other school she was in.  To me, that's not separation anxiety or is it?  Could it be just anxiety from fear of someone yelling at her be the reason that she does not want to go to school.  Just when I think I have some direction, I'm back to being confused.
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Avatar_f_tn
Really, it does not matter whether you are dealing with separation anxiety, social anxiety, generalized anxiety, etc. or a combination (fear from people yelling or fear of disappointment re performance can be an example of social anxiety).  As I stated before, it will be up to you (or an advocate you choose) to direct the school on how to deal with your daughter.  There are no easy answers.
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