27/01/2010 22:35 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Ask Joanne - My Son Doesn't Want To Go To Nursery

What's your question about any aspect of life as a parent? Our experienced life coach Joanne Mallon is here to help. Send your questions in here and say if you'd like your name to be changed.

Tam writes:

My son started nursery in September 2009. He's a very social little boy who loves other kids. When he started nursery he was really excited and couldn't wait to go. Last week he said he didn't want to go, so I asked if everything was ok and if anyone was being nasty to him. He said no.

But when I went to the parent session (where you can go along to play with your child), his nursery teacher told me that he's being very quiet and not listening. She agrees that it's not like him.

Please help.I'm beside myself with worry. .

Here's our life coach's reply.
Dear Tam

I know it's easier said than done, but try not to worry and focus instead on what's really going on here.

  • Has something changed at nursery? Maybe a new member of staff or a change in the children? He may be upset because the environment has changed just as he was getting used to it.
  • Anything stressful happening at home that's taking up your attention? His behaviour could be a subtle way to focus the attention back on himself and remind you that he needs you too.
  • How are the other aspects of his behaviour - does he eat and sleep well? If he's potty trained, has he been having any extra accidents? If something's really wrong, children will often show signs in all aspects of their behaviour.

Or it could simply be the case that the initial excitement of starting nursery has worn off, and now that he realises that it's an ongoing, non-negotiable event, he's starting to object. It's a bit like children who get very upbeat at the arrival of a new sibling, then start to kick off when they realise that the baby is here to stay. You say that he's social, but social skills can take a long time to learn, and maybe he's struggling with that right now.

This is a problem to address in conjunction with the nursery - could you have a one to one meeting with his key worker? It is up to them to support your son so that he's happy when he's there. Ask them how they plan to achieve this - what will they do to reignite his enthusiasm? Hopefully it will prove to be just one of those phases and not anything deeper. If the nursery don't seem particularly on the ball about this then it may be time to think again about whether this is the right place for your son.

In addition, take plenty of time together when he's with you so that he has the opportunity to open up and talk about what he's feeling. Role play toys like little figures or puppets are good for this because children will act out other areas of their life. Play with him, and observe how he plays, and you'll get plenty of clues about what's going on in his mind.

Best wishes


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