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Separation Anxiety

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Separation Anxiety With a 5 Year Old.

As the title says we’re having separation anxiety issues with little C at the moment and he’s now 5.

I think a lot of it has to do with starting school because looking back it seems that’s when most of this started. I’ve had him with me for the most part of 5 years. I was a stay at home Mum and apart from him doing a few session a week at pre-school he’s had me to himself for all those years.

He started school back in September – being one of the oldest he didn’t start until around the middle and until half-term, he only did half days until 12, so I collected him and we still had lunch and our afternoons together.

Despite the separation anxiety he’s really loving school and he has settled in so well …. once we have parted ways in the morning that is!

For the first week, he seemed to go in just fine. A little bit overwhelmed perhaps and a bit wide-eyed but none the less he went in ok. But one Monday morning he took me by surprise by getting so upset when we got to school and when it was time for me to leave. The floodgates opened and he was literally begging me not to leave him. I was so shocked by it I come outside and cried. He has never done this, never in the 1.5 years at pre-school did he get so upset, In fact, he never even cried once on the drop-off for pre-school. The teachers were lovely and said they would call me in a while to let me know how he was and low and behold by the time I got home I received the call to say he was just fine and had settled.

Almost every morning since then we’ve had tears at drop off. I’m not pandering to anything so he’s not doing it for attention. I don’t think he’s keen on walking in and going off to find something to do, he almost needs guidance and some confidence so I tend to find a TA to leave him with until he warms up a bit.

C’s school have an online journal diary. It’s a fantastic little system and gives parents a chance to see what their little ones get up to in school with photos, videos and a little written description from the teachers. It’s updated every few days and he honestly looks like he’s having the best time at school. Every photo he’s in he has the biggest smile, he looks so happy and they get up to so many different fun things. We had his first parents evening recently and both his teacher and TA couldn’t have said nicer things about him. Apart from the morning tears and wobbles he’s very settled during the day, he’s learning to sound out words so he can read and his maths is excellent and he’s very popular and has lots of friends at playtime. Every afternoon I collect him he comes running out with a big smile and on the walk back to the car he’ll hold my hand skipping along telling me about his day. He started off having hot dinners at lunchtime but I think he found the hot meal hall a little loud so we’ve switched him to packed lunch and he seems much happier at lunchtimes now too.

But something is unsettling him. He’s become very clingy to me now even at home, he gets very distressed or upset if I go with without him (whereas before he was fine) and we are also having issues at bedtime now too. As bedtime approaches he starts to get upset, he says he doesn’t like being in the room on his own and that it’s ages until morning. He’s woken almost every single night with some sort of dream, not related to school as such but lots of different situations involving all of us at some point. Sometimes he was waking 2/3 times a night. We’ve actually had the last 4 nights where he’s slept through and S and I said it was like having a baby again because we woke up one morning and said: “we slept through, he didn’t wake up!!”.

I definitely think it’s a phase he’s going through and it’s down to the upheaval of starting school. I’m hoping the more he settles in and gets used to going the better he will be and all of these issues will lessen. I hate seeing him so upset and worried and like I said I’m not pandering to it so I don’t encourage it but at the same time, it’s hard not to scoop him up and give him attention for it. It’s clearly not just babies who go through stages like this and speaking to my Mum this morning she said L went through similar when she was little too (you tend to forget don’t you?)

Have you had similar issues with your little ones when they started school? How long did it last and do you have any tips on how you dealt with it/helped them?