When you're a teacher and dealing with a poor little soul who is having trouble being away from Mum, it can be very difficult. Lately I'm finding, when you have a poor little soul who doesn't want to go to Kindergarten and you ARE the mum, it's even tougher still!!
Such is life with Ed at the moment. He just simply DOES NOT want to go to Kindergarten. He wants to stay home. He wants to be with me. Home is much more fun ....
And so, 3 times a week, I battle to get him there.
I've learned a lot about 'Separation Anxiety' over the years, but never has my learning curve been as steep as it is right now, as I sit on the other side.
So, what am I doing about it? A few things actually ..
1. Talking constantly to his teacher.
She needs to know what's going on at home so she can deal with upset times at Kinder properly and I need to know what's going on at Kinder so I can follow through at home too. It's important that Ed is getting a consistent message from both of us and that message is - "I know you're sad, but you have to go to Kinder".
2. Making sure he has plenty of rest.
He is miserable when he's tired so I'm making sure that on days when we're not traipsing off to Kindergarten, he can have some home time and get an afternoon nap.
3. Talking it up.
We're talking about Kinder a lot. Not in those times when I'm trying to get him there, these are times when I say "We've talked about this, you have to go". No, the discussions are happening when he's not emotional (and I'm not feeling beside-myself!). We talk about how all 4 year olds have to go to Kindergarten and that he has to find a way to make it a nice place to be. We talk about how great his teachers are and the fun things he gets to do there. We also go through some strategies that can help him to not feel so sad when he's there. Things like finding a new thing to do, finding a teacher for a cuddle and getting his teddy out of his bag. I also reassure him that if he gets really, really upset, I'm not too far away. These talks help to change his outlook and also give him a chance to voice his feelings and problems without being overly-emotional.
4. Encouraging friends.
His friendship with one other little boy is the only thing that gets us there some days. I'm making sure I help this friendship along as much as possible while also trying to encourage new friends.
5. Sending the bear along.
Fortunately, Ed's teacher has no problem with him bringing good old Yarji along with him and this has really helped. When you're young, a friendly, familiar face goes along way but Yarji's familiar smell and touch are hugely reassuring too.
6. Giving him something to look forward to.
I think all human beings need something to look forward to, particularly when they're faced with something they don't really want to do. Kids are no exception, so I try to have something nice for him when I pick him up - a little treat, a surprise, a trip to the park. I also try to plan nice things for his days at home. That way, we can focus on those nice, positive things instead of constantly talking about Kinder.
7. Sometimes letting him stay home.
I feel naughty even typing this. In my pre-children teaching days, I NEVER would have allowed this. You see, it teaches kids that sometimes they don't have to go, that it's not really that important and I have to agree, letting him stay home does send a bit of a mixed message. But, I only let him stay home when he seems really, really tired and he always has to go to bed and have a sleep when he's not going to go. To be honest, at this stage, I think getting enough sleep is more important and I know he copes better when he's not exhausted.
We've got 3 long terms ahead of us and I can only hope he makes some headway with his issues. I can't change my little man (and I wouldn't for the world). I have to accept him for the wonderful little love he is and try and give him the tools he needs to deal with what life throws at him. After all, he's got 5 days of school to cope with next year. I hope he stops needing so much sleep by then .......