View Full Version : Separation anxiety...

06-05-2011, 01:24 PM
Hi all

It's been a while since I posted, I hope you're all well and enjoying the sunshine!

I'm posting mainly to see if you've got any ideas re helping a relatively new mindee with her separation anxiety.

As a bit of background info, A is 3 years old, half Greek and half English (speaks both fluently), moved over here from Spain last year with her Mum after her parents separated. Her Mum tried a nursery before me but A didn't settle at all after 3 months of going once a week. They came to me at the beginning of March.

She was introduced to me as a 'shy' child so we had lots of settling sessions to try and familiarise her with me and my home. She's started coming one day a week and was ok for the first couple of sessions - her Mum said she was excited about coming. Since then though, she's started bursting into floods and floods of tears, completely at random, and reaching for the door saying 'Mama'. She is completely inconsolable. She works herself up into a right state and nothing seems to help her except constant attention (and I mean, literally, not allowed to leave her side) and constant cuddles, which I can't do as much as she seems to need because I have two other, younger, children to mind who need cuddles and attention too. She struggles to play independently but won't participate in group activities. In fact, I'm pretty sure she would sit and watch cartoons all day if permitted and, when not permitted, she resorts to the inconsolable crying. :(

I've had a chat with Mum about this and she told me that it's just the two of them a lot of the time, which I suppose helps explain her need for one-on-one interaction and her separation anxiety. I have also spoken to A about her feelings and she indicated that she waits for her Daddy to come home but he doesn't because he's at work so I wondered if she is afraid her Mum won't come home from work too? I suggested to Mum that she leave something of hers with A when she comes here so A can look after it until Mum comes to collect her after dinner. I also keep a picture of A and Mum at my setting so that A can look at it if she needs to 'see' her Mum. This worked for a couple of sessions but yesterday we returned to the inconsolable crying and calling out for 'Mama'.

I confess I'm beginning to wonder what else I can do to help her - she's a lovely little girl but her sadness is taking up so much of my time that I'm anxious about it affecting the experience of my other mindees. I don't want to have to give notice at all but it can't be good for the poor little thing to be so sad all day long.

If you're still with me after that essay, lol, do you have any ideas for me to help her settle?


07-05-2011, 05:08 PM
Poor little thing. She has been through a lot of transitions in her little life already!

If she has only been coming one day a week since beginning of March then it's not too extreme for her to still be crying. When I worked in a nursery with three year olds quite a few of them would take two weeks (ie 10 days) of crying before settling.

I know TV is frowned upon but I think it can be a bridge between home and setting if that's what she does at home. It can also offer her a little escapism until she feels more settled. I'm sure you monitor what she is watching.

What toys/activities does she enjoy at home? Baking and decorating cupcakes used to entice some of my little ones (if they contain a fruit then they can be regarded as healthy enough!). Encouraging her to make a card for mama will give her something constructive to do whilst still focusing on mum.

Visual timetable?

Would you be prepared to let mum visit you with little one at another point in the week to help her become familiar with and confident in your setting? A big ask I know.

Let us know how you get on. x

07-05-2011, 07:30 PM
I was going to suggest a visual timetable like Maza.

Basically a pictorial representation of the day so she can see at what point Mama will arrive... after lunch or after tea etc.

Use photos where possible of mum, places you go on outings etc and involve her in taking and printing them so she is making it for herself.

Yes ... use the TV if she needs it as a comfort blanket just now. You can cut it down later when she wants to get involved.

I hope she settles soon :D

08-05-2011, 10:47 AM
Thank you so much for replying ladies, I was beginning to lose hope! ;)

We have been round there to play at a weekend, and vice versa, to try and get her used to being around us and she enjoys doing loads at home, but when I try and incorporate similar activities into our day when she's here, she just says she doesn't need to do it because she can do it at home! I will persevere! Will definitely be doing a visual timetable though, that's an excellent idea, thank you.

I'll let you know what happens this Thursday!


blue bear
08-05-2011, 03:01 PM
I had a little man like this things settled after mum left her door keys at my house so lo knew she had to come back to get him before going home, plus a visual time table and bringing things from home to do here, he brought craft, toys, cake making boxes etc.

He needed to take some control I think having been through many changes like your lo he had no choice in. He was full time and took a good couple of months to relax and not need to be in control

27-05-2011, 09:31 PM
How is your mindee? Is she settling any better? x

27-05-2011, 09:48 PM
I think there are lots of good advice been given already

I would say let her watch the tv for the time being until she settles more, maybe try and take something from what she is watching, is there any characters that she particularly likes or anything that is happening on the programme, try and incorporate it in ur planning as an interest

I found that in nursery the children that only did one day a week took such a long time to settle, our minimum was either 1 day or 2 sessions and we always advised 2 sessions spread over the week, ei mon and thur so there wasnt such a big gap inbetween, does mum work on that day u have her, would be good if she could increase for an extra day or another session at least