Advice needed: Crying child due to separation anxiety


I would appreciate it if mommies could share how they deal with their crying child in playgroup/nursery due to separation anxiety as my boy has been crying the past 2 days in his nursery class.



It takes time for the child to settle down. I brought my daughter to playgroup and she was also crying for the first few sessions. It's coming to about 1.5 months and although she's settled down now, she still gets abit anxious 'some' times. What you can do is to talk to your boy about the activities/friends/teacher in the nursery class, sing some songs (sung in the nursery) to get him familiar and used to them.

I know it's not easy to see your child cry so much, i had thought of pulling out but... just wait a while more and see how it goes... my neighbour said her children went thru this phase at nursery/kindergarten/primary school! i guess all of us need some time to settle down in a new environment!

i made the mistake of walking out of the class, leaving my daughter to the teacher, without informing her... that's when she cried really hard. So now, i always say 'See you later' or 'i'll wait for you outside, you play with your friends and i'll come back to bring you home, ok?'... etc to let your child know that you will be back to bring him home.

hope this helps!
Thanks Icip for sharing.

Yes, I guess we just have to give some time for them to adapt but it really hurts to see them 'suffer'.

I can't wait for the day to come to see him going to school happily.
hi kit

my 3yr son just started to attend pre-n class in jul. both my hubby and i took turns to accompany him-sit in the class with him- for 2 hrs for 3 weeks!!! our hard work has been paid off, he goes off with a kiss and we pick him up 2hrs later daily.

separation anxiety is a tricky issue. there are 2 more of my son's classmates still having their maid hanging around-in the class-till today.

we curb our son's anxiety by assuring him that we are waiting for him outside his class. he will def see us the 1st thing he finishes his class-and we have to keep our promise and cannot be late. when he was distracted by the teacher with a drawing/painting activity, we will take the opportunity and tell him that we will wait outside. inform him when you leave-do not sneak away when he's not paying attention. this will only increase his insecurity.

take all the time you need..mine took 3 my son will kiss me goodbye and say "see you later alligator!"
Agree totally. I think separation anxiety basically means that some children take a longer time to get use to a new environ and people. Some like my daughter need a longer time and those child care who are kinder will allow me to sit at the back for a week. After awhile, i just tell her i wait outside better, and i keep my promise that i am outside somewhere. After awhile, she knows she's fine, i tell her that mum is busy and will not be late in picking her up. I slowly train her in tolerance later by being late for 5-10 min to let her know that even if i am late, i will be there no matter what.

I came to this forum cos I couldnt sleep.

My 3 year old son started a 2x/week nursery this week. 3 hours per session. I am still on maternity leave and am free to accompany him, but the school is very strict and wont allow me to go into the class with him. First day, I went inside, put schoolbag down with him, and sit a while until the teacher said I must leave. so I told him I wait outside, and he was fine.

today, the teacher wont let me into the class, so I had to drop him at the door. He started crying and the teacher had to drag him from me. My son was physically fighting her to get to me. I wanted to cry.

Later when I peeped into the classroom, he was walking to his seat, not crying. On and off during the class, he would start to ask for me and cry a bit, but stop when distracted.

When I picked him after school, he saw me and was about to cry and say he waited very long for me, but i distracted him and praised him and he didnt cry.

tonight, before going to sleep, I asked him if he liked his school, his teachers and his friends. He said Yes Yes Yes. but then when I asked him if he wanted to go to school tomorrow, he said no. And he kept telling me he didnt want to go to school. When I asked him why, he said he didnt like the teacher. When I asked him why not, he said he didnt like me to wait outside.


I am troubled that the teacher didnt let me stay, cos I think it would have helped in the transition.

I also find that the teachers are a bit strict, they raise their voices and I heard her tell another girl, why for no reason you cry, if you like to cry so much, you can stand in the corner and cry. I would have tried to pacify the girl if I were the teacher. Ask her why she cry. maybe someone step on her toe?

I dont know whether to insist that my son goes to school or to change schools
Hi Shanesky,
I can understand your situation. I started to put my son to a 2hr playgroup when he was 21mths old. For 2 terms and 5 days per week at he school, he has been very cranky and cry every day in the initial period. The teacher has to carry him everytime me or my maid send him there. At the 4th weeks or so , he will cry every time before going to school. I can't see what were they doing in the playgroup session. At that time, he still can't talk. I monitor for a period towards the 2nd term and I was confused too whether to change school.He has been crying once a while during the nite time for the whole of the 2 terms there but got better subsequently. After serious monitoring, I feel that my son is still small at his age and with the class size from 13 kid, mixing 18mths to 3+ years, to a total of 16 to 2 teacher. There was this grandma whose grand dau just join the PG and during the first 2 weeks, she accompanied her grand dua and she told me that my son was left crying unattended and she felt sad to see him struggling on the ground without attention. I presume the teachers are unable to attend to so many kids of such a small age. I decided to change him to another playgroup. I have put him to a 3X a week enrichment group with an initial 7 to 2 teacher ratio, he adapts well with initial crying for 1 to 2 weeks. I came to realise one thing, the teacher's attention to a kid is very important. With a terrible start, some kids may not like the environment. I have never heard him crying before going to school now whom he used to do that in his old PG school. It's a Blessing....

I am also quite troubled son is in playgroup, and he refuses to stay in the class without me. Had told him that I will be waiting for him etc...but he still cannot let go. Somemore almost half the class is crying, the teachers said not to tell the kids that u are leaving but to find chance to sneak off when they are engrossed in activity, since then my boy is never engrossed in his activity, even in his favourite song and dance and painting, he has to touch my body to ensure that I am around him all the time. The ratio is 15 to 2 teachers, but the class size is 16 now, teachers can't really give more than a min of attention to each child. My son can't talk well yet and sometimes he asked the teacher some questions, the teachers couldn't understand so just smiled or looked away...Then my boy will walk back to me, looking blur.

How? The teachers said they also need time to understand the child....But like what tanlt said, teacher's attention to a kid is v impt... A terrible start may turn him off future schooling....

Hi tanlt, which playgroup is ur son currently in?

I agree with cherrie that a teacher's attention to a kid is v impt... cause the other time i sent my daughter to dancepointe, a dance sch at jurong west sports complex, at first she was crying and making quite a scene but the dance teacher somehow managed to get her to join the class and just half an hour later she was enjoying herself. Although the crying problem persisted for a lil while but maybe she enjoyed the class very much nowadays she looks forward to the dance classes and never cry already =)
hi everyone,

I am putting my son 25mth old to playgroup soon n r finding way to overcome my child separation anxiety. I went to lilrary n manage to find a book n wish to share with parent out there.

I listed dwn those important point which i think is useful n My conclusion toward this book is:

Steps1- Creating comfort zone around the school
1.Spend times on school ground b4 or after school (with parent around)
2.Walk around empty classroom b4 or after school (parent around)
3.Spend time with teacher b4 school to create safe person (parent around)

Step 2:partcipating in school actitivies
1.Join circle time (sit on parent lap)
2.Work on activities with teacher or during freeplay (parent stay nearby within children view)

Step3: Gradually remove parent from classroom if children manage to on her own for 5min:
1.parent stay in classroom but at edge of door
Some children will scare if they saw parent at there but reassure them they are not leaving
2.Find execues to toilet or car to get something(may leave safe object such as key for kids to ensure they will be back)

After they settle down in class, we can move further step to overcome their anxiety ENTERING THE SCHOOL

-Reassure your child that he can remain outside the classroom until he is raedy to go in but keep encourage him to take challenging steps.
-Remain clam (do your best not to shw ur frustration / disappointmant)
-Help ur child practice relaxation execrise.
-Use reward (trading card / strickers) to help ur child ytake challenging steps.

Try these afew time walking with him in, until he is comfortable, encourage him to go in alone while u remain just outside the door. Once he manage to walk in, you can gradually transfer his key safe person from u, to someone who is already present in the classroom, such as teacher.

Alway reassure your child (im here... im not going anywhere)
Use positive nonverbal body language while u stay at a corner within his view (smile, wink, thumbs up)
Hi I can totally sympathise! I returned 5wks ago and thankfully LO is settling well now.

Is seems to be more traumatising for us than them.

Does he have a fav item to take with him?

Or leave something of your for your smell or familiar blanket ?

He will settle it may just take some time and also say nursery attendant to keep him buy with some activities.
Hope i have offered some help