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March 11, 2010

Parental Questions

BabyCrying Occasionally, I get an email from one of our readers. When I do, I always respond back. When I got this recent email though, I asked the gentleman if I could re-post our correspondence so that other parents might benefit from our insights. He agreed, so long as his real name was replaced by a pseudonym.

Mr. Vikram B.:

Read some of your articles and found them to be very informative. I have a five year old going to pre-k. He knows his ABCs, colors and other stuff. But some days at school he will sit and not do his tasks and also not eat anything, will cry a bit and when the teachers ask him why he says I miss my dad (thats me). I have tried to encourage him, and of course always get him back from school in time, but his behavior has not improved a whole lot. Any suggestions on what can we do?
 
J.M. Holland:

I understand how frustrating it can be to have your child cry when you have made the decision for them to enter school. Sometimes children will be upset for very real reasons that have nothing to do with why they say they are upset. They can become upset as a form of trying to influence (manipulate) their surroundings, including the adults in their lives. And sometimes there is something they actually do just miss  like a mom or a dad  and must become accustomed to the separation from a loved one.

I would ask the teacher how he interacts with the other children and adults in the room. If he is "fine," then he may be enjoying the attention he gets from being unhappy. If he is withdrawn, there may be some classroom considerations that can be discussed with the teacher and /or director of the center. There can be children in the class with unacceptable behavior that is not addressed proactively, or there can be a lack of intellectual challenge for your son, or the teacher may just be unengaged. All of these situations could cause your son to express himself through crying.

How to change it...

One way I have seen children improve their outlook on school is when they can bring a part of their life from home into school. This could mean, with teacher approval, bringing a toy or game that they can share. This puts them in a powerful position and allows them to gain what we would call "respect" from other students by making them the center of attention.

Two weeks later I emailed Mr. Virkam B. to check on his son. He emailed back, "Its been going pretty good since the last two weeks have been seeing improvement every day."

Often just the slightest confirmation of belonging can help a child transition into the life of a classroom. What are some strategies that you have tried as a parent or a teacher?

Image from: http://www.childinjurylawyerblog.com/BabyCrying.jpg

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