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Pregnancy & Parenting
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5 year old suddenly crying every morning, taken to school

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Hi, I am a mother of a 2 and 5 year old, the 5 y.o. girl in kindergarden.  My daughter has gone the whole school year, happy to go to school, and she's also been in a home daycare since she was a baby - I have to work.  Lately my daughter started crying in the mornings and I ask her what's wrong and she says she just misses me.  She also has complained about helping feed a baby at daycare that's not old enough to hold it's bottle.  I told her to tell the daycare lady that she didn't want to feed the baby.  She didn't though, I think, and then I would ask her how the day went at daycare and she'd say everything was fine. 

She tends to be extremely sensitive and cry over a lot of little things, but I've had to drop her off crying at school, which makes me feel terrible. I've tried explaining to her that she must go to school (which she doesn't struggle with), and that I have to work in order to help pay bills, by food, clothes, etc.  I am reassuring and loving/caring when we ARE together mornings and evenings/weekends.  I just don't know what to do, other than talk to her daycare, but the lady we've used the last couple of years has been really good. 

Anyone ever had a similar situation or have any advice?

Edited Mar 07 2011 18:57 by msmysz
Reason: Removed Sticky 03-07-2011
10 Replies (last)

Hi! I am the mother of 2- and 6-year-olds. My daughter (6) is also in kindergarten after spending a year and a half in preschool.

Does your daughter attend full-day kindergarten or half-day? Mine goes to school from 8am-3pm and it really wears her out. Before kindergarten, she was still taking a nap in the late afternoon. Now that she's not, I find that she is overly emotional and flies off the handle at the smallest things. It doesn't happen all the time but on days that she, say, goes to school, has P.E. and then goes to swimming lessons just before dinner, she typically has a tough night.

Perhaps your daughter is worn out and it's making her upset more easily? Mornings are tough for us because we don't get to spend a lot of time together and we usually spend said time getting ready for work/school.

Have you tried asking your daughter what you can do to help her miss you less during the day? I know the first few days of kindergarten, I would kiss the back of my daughter's hand and then draw a heart around it to "keep it there." We also came up with our own special way to say goodbye (she also has a special handshake with her dad/my husband).

I assume she goes to daycare after school. It sounds a bit odd to me that the DCP is asking your daughter to help feed a baby that can't hold a bottle itself. I know you said the DCP has been great but it sounds like they may be understaffed.

Is she being bullied? I couldn't believe it but my daughter had a bully in preschool. She hated going in the morning because of it. It's not as extreme as bullying at the older level but still, it often got physical and was ALWAYS verbally abusive. It really hurt my daughter's feelings more than anything.

That was very rambling but I hope there's something that will help in there!

Thanks for your response!  My daughter is in just half a day and she really could use a nap still some days and I can tell that does affect her some days especially.  But at daycare with the other older girls there she has started skipping naps there.   And when you mentioned bullying - she sometimes mentions not getting along with one of the girls at daycare.  She's a good girl overall but can sometimes be snotty/bossy/mean and lords over my daughter somewhat.

I used to be terrible - I was always crying when my mum dropped me off at nursery and when I was very young at school. I was far too young to remember the specific reasons but I remember that every time I went in I had such a strong feeling of rejection and being abandoned which was actually made worse by my own mother when she hung around and dragged it out. Of course, I cannot assume the same for your child, but usually kids have hiccups and then they settle down once they get into a routine. Perhaps if your daughter truly understands your reasoning, then maybe a change of nursery might be good?

I'm not stupid and I did not fail school in fact I did very well, but I hated it from day one right up until the moment I left almost two years ago. I still think that institutionalisation is a crime against humanity. Have you even considered your child might not be ready to be put into that sort of environment? I was born at the tail end of the academic year and I was definitely one of the youngest, there is generally a big gap between a child who is just four and one that's nearly five. Is there any chance you could maybe get a nanny or something to mind her at home/take her on the occasional outing? I personally think starting school at around 4 or 5 is too young.

Original Post by blondiecath:

Is there any chance you could maybe get a nanny or something to mind her at home/take her on the occasional outing? I personally think starting school at around 4 or 5 is too young.

Here in the states, kids start kindergarten the year that they turn 5 before July 31st (typically). Kindergarten is a bit of fluff--it's more like introducing the idea of school to kids. They don't receive grades, just something along the lines of "Satisfactory" or "Unsatisfactory." It's much softer than grades 1+.

And nannies/babysitters are extremely expensive for daily care. We could barely fit paying for preschool into our budget. Considering a babysitter was out of the question for us.

I think the majority of kids enjoy school at the kindergarten level. Especially someone who has been in a daycare/preschool setting previously. If they're not enjoying it, I think something is off.

It's a similar system in the UK as well, so same ages pretty much. Yes, nannies certainly don't come cheap! Having children is a huge economic liability, and one would have to be very naive indeed to not realise that.

To be honest, you probably are more to the point when you say that something's off - it may be that she has a bully. Which you will also have to consider if you are a parent - your child will most likely encounter bullying at some point. Lovely thought. You can take a more "tough love" approach and just drop her off crying anyway. Don't make a big deal about it - if you start panicking the child will sense that and feel the need to panic also. It's simple, but it might work if you give her one of your jumpers with your perfume/scent on it to cuddle up to if she's feeling teary. The good news is that they do get over it and I'm sure it will work out fine, we all survive it anyway!

Original Post by blondiecath:

 Yes, nannies certainly don't come cheap! Having children is a huge economic liability, and one would have to be very naive indeed to not realise that.

I'm not saying that it's surprising how expensive child care is. I'm saying that relatively speaking, an in-home nanny/babysitter will be much more costly than a daycare center/preschool/in-home daycare. While someone may be able to afford sending their child to daycare/preschool, a nanny might be out of their financial reach.

ETA: We had to do the "tough love" approach with drop-offs for a while. Sticking around and trying to console only made the crying worse. The people at preschool were always able to calm my daughter down with in minutes of my leaving and she would go on to have a great day (bullying excluded).

I just wonder why she hasn't had issues until now? A change in routine? A bad experience at school? Could you set up a conference with her teacher and find out what he/she thinks?

Growing up and maturing is not always a straight path. Sometimes, especially before an emotional growth, kids take a step backwards, and that could exhibit in ways like crying in areas where they didn't before.

Bullying may or may not be an issue. Check with the teacher, not only to see if she's being picked on, but also to see how long it takes her to calm down after you're gone.

And as was mentioned previously, she can pick up on any tension or apprehension in you and cause her to cry. If you act matter-of-fact, then she's more likely to be that way herself.

Good luck.


Absolutely check with her teacher to see if there's anything going on at school with other kids, if she's been acting differently, etc.  Also, I agree that she might be over-tired, and she may also need more attention from you (especially if she's feeling stressed at school).  I know it's hard when we're all so busy, but make sure she gets good one-on-one time with you and your husband so she doesn't feel like everyone is too distracted, or like her younger sibling is getting more attention than she is. 

I have two children, 3 and 7.  The 7 year old is a sensitive soul and cries all the time, sometimes for no apparent reason - even when she is laughing she will often cry.  I digress - this doesn't help, just to let you know some children are very sensitive.

Have you talked to the teacher/daycare provider about your daughter's behavior after you leave?  I found out that my oldest daughter would stop crying as soon as I was out the door.  She was much younger at the time - 2/3 years old, but I felt like crap every morning for two years, even after finding out she was fine when I left. 

I agree with the other poster.  Maybe discuss with your daughter anything going on at school.  I cannot ask my daughter these questions outright because she always replies everything is fine.  So I ask her specific questions about the names of her friends, who does she like to play with the most, what games does she play at school/daycare, what's her favorite activity, etc.  I get a lot of information about her day asking non-confrontational questions if that makes sense.  Otherwise I get a lot of I don't knows, yesses, and nos with no substance. 

If you have investigated as much as possible and can't find anything wrong, just know it's probably temporary and you and another hundred thousand parents have to deal with the same thing.  It sucks at the time, but she will be okay.

Speaking completely out of my knowledge zone here (I don't have kids, but am expecting one), could it be some kind of sibling rivalry in there too?

Does she know that her younger sibling goes to daycare, or does she see you dropping her off at kindergarten and then thinking that you're going home and spending all your time with her little sister/brother?  My sister's eldest daughter (she has two) went through this when she went to school - hysterical crying because she had to go to school and her sister stayed at home with mom.  All she would ever tell her was that she missed her.

So there's my completely uneducated guess... :)

10 Replies