This year our now three year old has started to spend a day each week at preschool.
This is much needed as she has not had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with kids of her own age and subsequently her social skills need a little sharpening.
While we have spent plenty of time doing kiddy activities in groups, most of that time is spent actually doing the activity and so free play with others their age is not really possible in that situation.
Additionally kids always act a bit different when mum or dad is around and so only truly get a taste of independence when left to their own devices with others their own age.
We were prepared for a pretty steep learning curve. This is the first time our daughter has spent time alone with anyone outside the extended family unit and subsequently we were all struggling with attachment issues.
I guess that most parents go through this but the more concerning problem for us was the fact that our daughter did not snap out of her moods during the day. We expected tears at the drop off point but hoped that she would settle down and get on with it after we had left.
Unfortunately she didn’t and from all reports she spends most of the day sulking around which is not like her. She won’t eat or play or get involved in activities or do much of anything at all. It is as if she is on strike.
OMG! I hope she is not depressed? (Cue the theme to JAWS and imagine my dark parental guilt lurking beneath, waiting to devour me….)
Even though we explain everything about preschool and let her ask us all kinds of questions she is still reluctant to go or get involved in the process at all. She thinks that kids stink and that she wants to “shump” them all off. I don’t know what that means but it doesn’t sound too good.
We have also tried the “better get used to it kid cause you’ll be going every week for a long time” tactic but that hasn’t had any effect either. She still screams , cries and clings at the preschool gate.
Everyone I have spoken to has told me that these things are normal in the first few weeks of preschool but it is now getting into week five and I feel the need to act in some way to change the dynamic of this situation.
After much consultation we decided to introduce a reward system using gold stars and toy purchases to try and encourage our willful little angel’s participation in a positive way.
The plan was to tell her what is expected of her at preschool (i.e. playing with other kids, doing activities, eating at the required times etc.) and at the end of the day if she had gotten involved in those activities she would receive a special gold star set on a magnificent sparkly fridge chart.
Three gold stars would earn her a much wanted toy that would be decided upon in advance.
We figured that if she involved herself in preschool for three weeks in a row then she would probably start to like it a little more and we wouldn’t need to bribe encourage her as much after that.
Anyhow we were in the car and on our way to preschool this week when the inevitable teardrop rolled down her cheek as she said, “Dad, I don’t want to go to preschool today”.
“Why not honey?”
“Cause I’ll miss you Dad”(violins).
I told her that we all miss each other when we were apart but we were definitely going to preschool today and would be every week so it would be best to enjoy it as much as she could and use the time to make some friends.
I also added that if she did get involved we would reward her with a gold star and you know what that means!!
She looked at me for a few seconds and then looked out the window and said, “You know Dad, I don’t really care about this gold star stuff”.
“I don’t care about this gold star stuff”.
“OK , why not?” I say collecting my jaw from the floor.
“Cause I don’t want to play at preschool. I just want to lie around and be sad”.
“Oh, that doesn’t sound like much fun. You know that if you get three gold stars you get to buy a toy. What about your toy?
“I don’t care about a toy. I’ve got plenty of toys. I just don’t want to go to preschool…”