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AgapeDoc, Psychologist
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My child is a highly sensitive child who is very upset about

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My child is a highly sensitive child who is very upset about going to pre-school. The teacher reports that as soon as I leave, she is fine. She was not like this the first 3 months and was a toddler that separated easily from me, but at 4 years of age, she is different child. I worry that the stress she goes through going to school can be more harmful than good. I reduced her times from 4 times/week to only 2. I am a stay at home mom who is a speech language pathologist and this preschool works specifically with children with phonological delays. My child happens to be moderate to severely phonologically delayed. I think this delay has negatively affected her social life and self esteem, so that is why I have her in this preschool. To meet other kids with delays and to help her improve. One of her strengths is that she is very social and loves to meet kids, but has little luck meeting other social kids that accept her speech delays. Should I continue with preschool or should I treat her myself at home?
Dr. Colby :

Hi, this is Dr. Colby.

I was struck by your comment that the teacher says your child is find once you depart. Can you tell me more about that, because it could be a critical piece in the discussion? Thanks.


She will say jokes at snack time, sing and interact with her peers. But, I must add that after I pick her up, she will right away ask if she is going to school tomorrow or she will wake up at 2a.m. and scream that she is not going to school. I try to comfort, but have found that it is best to not talk about it until morning. She will cry all the way there, and try to stay in my arms. She calms down after awhile and then goes on with her day.

OK... It seems that Dr. Colby had to step away and has been offline for some time. I have read your comments and I must tell you that I have dealt with this for many years. Among my other areas of practice, I have been a School Guidance Director for many years. The school I work at has a student population of over 800 children including over two (2) dozen pre-schoolers every year.
What you are dealing with is very common. And I can imagine how the teacher wants to really make sure you are aware that your child calms down after you leave - it's something I've seen literally thousands of times. Even for kids who separated nicely from parents previously, I have seen it. We could go into a deep discussion about emotional development and how it's not (always completely) linear, etc. but I don't think that will help your child.
And there could be reasons that she is struggling some as well - for example maybe she feels more demands are being put on her or the class is bigger or the hours are longer, or etc. However....
As an SLP, I'm sure you have seen this too. It is my practice to explain to parents that as long as they stay and keep saying goodbye or stay and try and comfort the child the longer the child has hope that she can change mommy's mind. Once mommy is gone, the child knows that mommy must certainly trust the people that she is left with and for sure she is not going to change mommy's mind since mommy has left. Finding herself in this situation, the child has confidence in the adult and seeks out peers who seem to be enjoying themselves.
Having said that..... and especially given that she needs to work on her speech issues I think the best thing for your daughter is to show her you are confident in the teacher as well as her :) and have her spend as much time in the program as possible.
There are some behavioral things you can do to help shape her behavior as well. For example, giving her a photograph of you to keep with her in or in a special area in the classroom. Spending time in the classroom as a volunteer if she (your daughter) meets certain behavioral goals based on the separation (of course I imagine this teacher has some ideas on what has worked for her - so it would be good to get her buy in also).
As for her waking up and screaming, I think you are handling that well. it's very upsetting, but all you can continue to do is comfort her. It will take some time and some effort, but in my experience I have seen (even worse) situations work out relatively quickly.
As I said, I don't mean to minimize your situation. I know it's hard and SLP"s (such as yourself) and Psychologists (such as me) aren't supposed to have these issues LOL. But I can tell you I can look back now since my kids are both teenagers and remember that we do have these issues - but I can also tell you that they pass and time goes by so quickly.
I hope I have been helpful, answered your questions, and reduced your stress. If you are satisfied with my efforts please don't forget to click on the green accept button.
AgapeDoc, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 197
Experience: Dr. W. D. Nicholas will help you find solutions to life's challenging issues.
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Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Thank you. I was just thinking today of pictures because I was showing her pictures of herself on my phone at the coffee shop and these pictures showed her being silly and happy. It seemed to change her mood from sad to happier and the transition at the school was better. The teacher does not want me in the room, so I can not do that, but I am sure if Norah has a meltdown there, she may change her mind. I left out an important fact and that is the assistant in the class has poor interactions with kids and has yelled and poked. This matter has been 'fixed', but I wonder if that started all of this and made me doubt that I should continue with the program. I did not include this, since it has been awhile since any incidents and the teacher knows that my child will tell me! As for the other kids, they are an non-interactive bunch that frustrates my child, but I have to let her know that not all kids have parents that teach them social manners. At what point would a highly sensitive child need professional help?

Hi, it's Dr. Colby. I appreciate Dr. Nicholas' stepping in to follow up with you. I was not sure if you wanted me to continue (I am back from seeing patients but must go get my son at basketball practice, now, and can get back to you ar about 8:15 PST). If that's acceptable, please let me know. I will continue on the "information only" stage, for now. To indicate this, I have NOT included at the bottom the customary appeal for an "accept." If you prefer to continue with Dr. Nicholas, just leave me a note to that effect, and I will opt out. How does this plan sound? Dr. Nicholas, your thoughts about this process?

Dr. Colby
I'm sorry the 'assistant" was apparently incompetent &I this may be the root of the problem. I think if the problem has been "solved" with the assistant, you can move forward as discussed. All my best and thanks.
Just to be clear, the I after the & was a typo. Keep up the good work and all my best.