Saturday, June 13, 2009

Transitioning to Nursery

FYI: For anyone who may not know, our church has a program, called primary, for children who are 18 months and older to attend where they sing songs, learn about Christ, and interact with other children their age.

Recently my little girl turned 18 months and started attending nursery (one of the classes in primary). She loves her cousins and other kids, but there are very few young families in our ward so she has had hardly any opportunity to play or interact with other kids in our neighborhood. Since she was going into a brand new environment with brand new people, I went into nursery with her for a couple weeks before her 18 month birthday in hopes that she would get used to it and be fine when I left her and we had a great time. When she went alone for the first time, I told her leaders that she might cry for a few minutes but that she normally calms down pretty quickly. I told them that if she didn't stop crying after a few minutes (5 minutes at the most) to go ahead and bring her to me. I teach a Sunday School class with my husband and let them know where I would be. When I went to pick her up at the end of our church block, one of her leaders told me that they just love her and that she did great. She said that she cried for 5 minutes tops and then was fine, but that they don't usually let the kids cry at all. She said that she was willing to do what I wanted, but that she likes to have a 'no cry policy' because 'nursery is supposed to be a positive experience'. I know she didn't mean wrong and I shouldn't have let it get to me, but I felt really bad after that for leaving my daughter sad, even if it wasn't for long at all. So I am curious what other mothers have done or what people who have had callings in nursery think...

Did you let your child cry when you first dropped them off at nursery?
What have you done if your child has a hard time?
What did you do to make the transition easier?

Please share any stories and insight!!


On The Go Family said...

With our oldest, we did the same -- we went in a few weeks in advance to let her get a feel for things before we had to leave her. She loved it and had no problems when we started dropping her off a few weeks later.

We intended to do the same with our son, but our Primary president is a firm believer that coming in with the kids only makes it harder for them in the long run. So we didn't do a "preview" -- we just dropped him at the door the Sunday he turned 18 months, said goodbye and left. He cried for a few minutes and then moved on.

I'm guessing that approach won't work for everyone, but I do think it's worth giving it a shot to see if it will work.

One thing I highly recommend is having Daddy (not Mommy) drop the kids off at nursery. The few times I have been the ones to take my kids, they've both struggled. For some reason, they don't have as hard of a time saying goodbye to dad. (It's probably got something to do with his ability to easily say goodbye to them without showing any emotion.)

I LOVE how most nurseries have a peep hole in the door so you can check in without being seen. This helped ME make it through the transition with my son, as I really had a hard time feeling like he was old enough to be anywhere without me!

Jared and Delia said...

My son LOVED nursery when he first went in. I talked it up and acted excited that he was there. He didn't really have any problems but that was kind of how he was with strangers and strange places. Then...he got bullied and pushed and hurt often. After that he was petrified of nursery and didn't want to go back. We moved to another ward and he was a little bit hesitant to go in. Once he realized it was a safe place he loved it and couldn't wait to go back each week. To help him we would go in with him for just a minute and then leave. He would cry a little but got over it quickly. He cried for several weeks before he learned to love nursery again. I think by showing how confident you are about your kids going to nursery will help them feel secure. If you act worried they sense that and may worry themselves.

Luckily kids are very forgiving and easily forget. So if you are worried about your child having bad associations with nursery if the transition is rough, I say don't worry too much about it.

Kaylyn said...

My husband and I were nursery leaders for over a year. We had a small group of kids but had a lot of fun. One thing is that it depends on the kids. We had some that just came in without any problem. Some needed a little extra help and attention. One thing that always helped was having the nursery leaders there to greet them and welcome them with a smile, then finding a favorite toy or book to play with. That way the child has something to do right to start with. I noticed the parents that found them something said bye and will be back, might have cried for a minute but almost always calmed down quick. The parents that lingered sometimes would not be helpful to the leaders to help the child transition in and most of the time just ended taking the child back to class with them. It never seems to work out positively for us. We had one little boy that would cry for a minute and we would get him calmed down and the parents would peak back in and then there was no calming him back down a second time. Again depends on the child.
Now with our daughter, we were able to go in with her for a couple of weeks before we left her. She did great when it was time to leave her by herself. Then when we moved I went in one week with her, by snack time she was happy and content and I left. The next weeks I found her a book or toy and then left, the leaders calmed her right down and she now looks forward to nursery every week. For her I have to be the one to drop her off because daddy is the push over and doesn't do well with the drop off. In our old ward our daughter already had friends in nursery or that were coming into nursery at the same time and so she had a friend in there. In the new ward she made a buddy quickly and that helped her out too.

Tannie Datwyler said...

Okay, so I'm not sure I agree with what your nursery leader said about a "no cry policy" I say that because crying can be how some kids cope - and if you don't allow her to cry at all then maybe she won't ever go into nursery without you.... Who knows! Some kids need to shed a few tears and then get over it and they are just fine! :) Especially if she was only crying for 5 minutes. I don't think that just because she cried she will have a negative experience of nursery. I hope you didn't feel too bad because that is obviously the opinion of that nusery leader/primary presidency (though I can totally see why there would be that thought - crying for some kids can be VERY tramatic, especially if it goes on and on). As Kaylyn mentioned, when she was a nursery leader she preferred if parents just left (even if they child cried) - again a differing opinion....

The thing to remember is that every child is different - I don't think it is fair for a nursery leader to say that there is a blanket ban on crying and you shouldn't feel bad that you let her cry.

I'm sorry.... I'm not offering a lot of advice (nusery has been easy for my little girl, so I haven't had this issue myself) but I just think it is important to remeber that crying might actually be her way of acclimatizing herself to the new situtation. Make sense?

Tannie Datwyler said...

Oh yes, I was going to say that my husband can't drop my daughter off (at least not when she was first in nursery) because she would always get a little more sad. I think she was used to be with me all day so any daddy time was important and she felt sad when he dropped her off. When I did - NO PROBLEM!! :) It also helped for a while if her dad picked her up too, because she'd be excited to go to sacrament with us (we have RS/Priesthood first and sacrament last) whereas when I came, she wouldn't want to stop playing.

All kids are different though - so just do what works (dad or mom dropping off, just play it by ear).

My little girl also got overwhelmed with a BIG nursery that she went to a few times (it was for institute), so situations are different too. I had to deal with her differently when we went to that nursery as oppossed to when we were at our own church each week.

Raylynk said...

I have been in nursery for the past year and think that dropping them off and letting them cry for a bit is fine and that coming in with your child is fine, it is just what you are comfortable with. It has been my experience that all the children do great once their parents leave even if it means being sad for a minute. In the long run I haven't found a child who has had a bad experience, because they were sad when their parents leave. If you are a parent taking your child to nursery do not be afraid to leave them, even if they cry thats what nursery is for and you deserve a break!

chelsea said...

My daughter transitioned was a little hard on me because she did so great...waved and ran to play and well I kind of felt not needed. But after about 5 minutes of peace in Relief Society I got over it. I have a 15 month old son and my daughter is still in nursery so I hope that helps instead of hindering it. I am ready for him to go so that church isn't so hard, but I think the next few months will help him mature more. He is kind of a bully right now and we are trying to help him that way.
I was a nursery leader for 1 1/2 years before I had kids and one think that my bishop did with his son to help him transition was to do family home evening in the nursery room to help him realize it was a safe place. Now I know that isn't an option for everyone, but after him crying a ton each Sunday for a month, it seemed to work like a charm. The week after they did FHE he cried for about 30 seconds after his parents left and then he was great!

Ben, Shauna, Cole & Adalyn said...

My 2 1/2 year old has been everything. At first at 18 months, he walked right in, then like a month later, we'd put him in, and hurry and leave because he'd cry when he saw us leave, but would get over it. Then we moved, and he would cling on to me,and I could hardly put him down, and to find things to distract him with, because he knew we were leaving. So I had dad drop him off, and dad would go in sit him with a puzzle, and he'd cry for a couple of minutes, but when we'd pick him up, he never wanted to leave. Now he pulls our hand, to take him to nursery. So, for us, we've been a little bit everywhere, and in between. But I also don't agree with not letting her cry. But dropping him off, give him something fun to play with, and walk out, have worked the best for us, and having it be dad, because Cole is more attatched to me than him. So good luck!!