We are currently on school holidays which thankfully gives us a little reprieve from our separation anxiety dramas. I though I'd post an update about what's been happening at Kinder drop offs over the last few weeks.
There have been highs and there have been lows. There's also been a bit of vomiting (yuck!!) some runny noses and Ed's first ever bout of asthma, so the quest for a happy drop off has been one step forward and one step back for the most part.
A big part of being happy to go to Kinder is getting used to the idea of going and unfortunately, because he has been having a few days off for being unwell, it's kind of confusing and gets him out of the habit of going.
It meant we had many days of him crying when I left and that's a tough thing to deal with. It's so important to leave quickly when this is happening. I would seek out his teacher (who as I've mentioned has been fantastic), give him a great big hug and kiss and cuddle and reassure him I would be back soon. Then I would leave regardless of how he was responding and not look back, knowing he was with his teacher who was physically and verbally reassuring him and caring for him. I would always get a call within 10 minutes or so to say he'd settled and was happy.
The lowest point was definitely a couple of weeks ago when on a well day (in between the asthma and the second bout of throwing up), I took him to Kinder in his PJs. He was refusing to go, refusing to get dressed and I realised he was testing his boundaries and it was time for me to put my foot down firmly and so I did. I put his clothes and shoes in his bag, carried him out the door screaming and took him to Kinder. He got dressed in the car before he went in whimpering and I left him and then burst into tears when I hopped in the car.
It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. It felt a bit mean, but we had come to a point where I needed to say - "enough of the nonsense, you have to go to Kinder". If you're even contemplating this kind of drastic action, I can recommend a few tips:
- Don't get angry. This is really important. Be firm, but not angry. Let him know you're following through because he has to go to Kinder, not because you're angry. Be reassuring. Say things like "I know you're sad and I'm sorry about that, but we've talked about this, you have to go." Still give him hugs and kisses and let him know it will all be ok.
- See it through. If you say you'll take him in his PJ's if he doesn't get dressed, you have to do it.
- Give him one last chance to get dressed in the car.
- Give a really big positive reinforcement if he does get dressed before he goes in.
- Don't beat yourself up about it. Teaching your child that there are some things that are non-negotiable is important and it's sometimes a relief for kids to know this decision is out of their hands.
This was a turning point for Ed. We talked afterwards about the fact that he has to go and it's up to him whether it's a happy experience and he focuses on the fun and his friends or a sad experience where he focuses on wanting to stay home. We have only had two Kinder days since, but both were happy days with no tears before hand or at drop off.
We also made this simple little chart so he could count down the days until holidays.
Kinder days are in big blue font and non-Kinder days are in red. I will definitely be doing this again next term. I think it makes him feel a bit more in control of the situation because he can see in print when he goes and when he's home. (It's great for learning the days of the week and pre-reading skills too!)
I'm sure we're not done with crying at Kinder, but I'm glad we have made some headway. It will be very interesting to see how he goes back after 2 and a half weeks off ..................