Dear Dr. Debbie,
The first couple of days I think my son was either in shock or impressed with the novelty of going to kindergarten. Now that it’s become apparent to him that this will be real life for the foreseeable future, he fights every morning to get dressed, eat and get in the car. There are tears when I walk him in the door to school. Today I almost gave up and brought him back home but his teacher was great with taking him from me.
This Can’t Go On
Don’t miss last week’s column Tips for kids who seem to attract bullies — Good Parenting
Mitigating your son’s losses of a day at school versus being with his beloved parent requires sensitivity. Assuming all is well with what happens after his painful separations, it may be that all he needs is to go from the security of being with you to the security of being with someone else with whom he has a reliable bond. It may take a few more weeks for him to establish this with a teacher, so let’s see if a classroom companion can be found.
I had a similar struggle with my own son at “big school.” Prior to this point his school experiences included me as his teacher or at least in the same building. The new arrangement was more than he could bear each morning.
Our solution actually came from a neighbor, the mother of his best friend. She had seen the dramatic separations between us at the school door and compassionately offered to drive both children each morning. My son was happy to join his buddy in the car, along with the mom and an older brother, rather than to part from his mother at the school door. This was a much less stressful situation since he had been going on outings with them for a couple of years. After a few weeks, the neighbor got a job and I was more than happy to be the afternoon driver and child care arrangement for her children with her continuing as morning driver.
See if your son’s morning routine could include such a happy carpool. If you need help to identify a potential candidate, ask his teacher for suggestions and contact information or introduce yourself as soon as possible to other parents dropping off their children at school, especially those in his class. Neighbors you are familiar with can also be links to neighbors with children in his class or at least his grade that you’ve not yet met. Starting from scratch on building up a friendship for your son will also require some play dates with this new friend.
Let’s hope that a short ride in the car with a companion is all he needs to start the day off on the right foot.
Deborah Wood is a child development specialist in Annapolis. She holds a doctorate in Human Development from the University of Maryland at College Park and is founding director of the Chesapeake Children’s Museum. Long time fans and new readers can find many of her “Understanding Children” columns archived on the Chesapeake Family Magazine website. You can find her online at drdebbiewood.com.
What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments or submit a question to Dr. Debbie at Betsy@jecoannapolis.com