What to do about ANXIOUS mom?

Discussion in 'Preschool' started by veronicany87, Sep 25, 2015.

  1. veronicany87

    veronicany87 Rookie

    Jan 23, 2014
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    Sep 25, 2015

    Hey everyone!

    First of all, I'm a brand new teacher. I've been a substitute for 2 years, but this is my first year with my own classroom. I teach Pre-K3, so the ages are between 2 1/2-3. I have such a difficult situation going on, and I feel extremely lost on how to handle it.

    I have a Mom who has serious anxiety about leaving her son in my class. He's a half day student so he leaves 11:30 every day. For the first 3 days of school he was perfectly fine - no crying, no yelling.. On day 4, he had an "accident" in the school yard during recess, and went into a complete fit. I cleaned him right up and brought him back outside, but he threw himself on the floor in hysterics, crying for mom. None of the kids saw his accident and I also didn't make a big deal out of it, so he wasn't embarrassed. From that day forward, when Mom brings him in in the morning, he's in HYSTERICS. I explained to mom that the best thing she can do is just leave, and trust me to take care of it. I had SEVERAL students crying every morning, but the parents have taken my advice and have left their kid with me, and after 5-10 minutes, the kids stop crying. I explained this to her, and she just doesn't get it. All last week she would come in with him, sit on my classroom floor for a good 10-15 minutes with him, and then ultimately would take him home. HER Mom volunteered to do morning duty in the school last week, and kept coming to my classroom door to peek in, and every time the boy would see her, he would start to cry all over again. I went into the hallway and explained to her that her grandson was okay, but that every time she peeks in he starts to cry. I let the principal know what was going on, and he basically told her she can't be doing that and that if she continues, she can just take the kid home with her. She ended up taking him home.

    On Monday, Mom brought the kid in, he cried, and she took him again. This time, she took ALL of his belongings with her. Tuesday and Wednesday the boy didn't show up at all, so we all assumed that she was done trying and wouldn't be returning. Dad ended up calling on Wednesday to see how his son is doing in school (they are separated and in the midst of custody battle drama). He was SHOCKED to find out that his son hasn't been to school in 2 days, and that on the days he has shown up, Mom or Grandma have taken him out after 10-20 minutes. Wednesday night I had "meet the teacher" night, and was SHOCKED that Mom showed up. She stayed after to talk to me, and she seemed so rational. She explained her situation to me, and expressed her concerns about leaving the boy in school when he's crying. I kindly explained to her that the longer she stays with him in the classroom, the more he's going to cry to go home. I basically drilled it into her that she needs to drop him and go, and to trust me to call her OR her mother if thing's get too intense. After a nice half hour conversation, she felt confident and agreed to bring him in Thursday and leave him. Dad also informed the school that he'd be there in the morning as well, to make sure Mom really brings him to school and leaves him there.

    Thursday morning comes, both parents are there. This time, they both left even though the boy was crying (obviously the dad forced mom to leave). Boy calmed down after 10 minutes.. I made him my helper of the day, so he helped me do the daily calendar and dress the weather panda. The kids all made family apple trees on Tuesday, so my assistant helped him to do his. After about a half hour, he went into another crying fit and had another accident. We cleaned him up again, and he was fine. A little while later during snack, he started to cry again. However, It's not unbearable and I feel It's pretty normal, since It's basically like his first real day in school all over again. I saw this behavior with some of the other kids the first few days of school, and after about a week, those kids came out of this stage. It's nothing that I can't handle. HOWEVER...

    Mom comes in the school an hour and a half after dropping him off, and demands the secretary to get her son. The school tried reasoning with her to just let him finish out the day, but she told them that she's been outside my classroom window the whole time and has heard her son crying non stop since drop off. Non stop is a lie, absolutely untrue. I brought him out to her anyway, and kindly told her that she's mistaken because her son HAD NOT been crying nonstop. I showed her the apple tree that he made, and showed her pictures that I promised her I would take (of him playing with the other kids). She didn't seem to care, she took him anyway.

    Now this morning comes. She brings the boy in, he's crying. She sits in the middle of my classroom with him on her lap and refuses to get up. I tried EVERYTHING. I brought over his favorite toy, I asked him to be my helper again, I told him about the fun things we would be doing.. I asked mom several times to please go and reminded her of the conversation we had at parents night. She refused to even acknowledge me. When my assistant went over to give it a try, she basically put her hand up to her face and told her to go away. After a half hour of her NOT leaving my classroom, our resource room teacher came in and told her she would have to leave. She outright refused to go. She was then told that she either leaves on her own, or she brings her son with her, but either way, she needs to go. She got VERY angry and started yelling about how terrible this is that no one is allowing her son to "ween" off her, she's never experienced anything like this before, and then called the resource lady rude. She left with her son again.

    She came back to the school alone at 12 for a meeting with the principal. LUCKILY, I have kept him informed this entire time of everything that's been happening. He thinks that she's absolutely crazy. She made up SO many lies to him, that he knew were lies. She told him that I gave her permission to sit in the middle of my classroom floor (UNTRUE, she didnt even let me SPEAK to her), she told him that I gave her permission to wait outside my classroom window yesterday, and she told him that her son cries for hours on end when she does drop him off. He KNEW her son wasn't crying the entire time yesterday because he came in my room yesterday to check on him, and the kid was not crying at that point. Then she requested a classroom change and he denied it, telling her that she's going to have the same exact problem in another classroom and he refuses to subject the other teachers to it.

    So all in all, I have an awesome principal who is completely siding with me. I also have e-mail exchanges where she STATES to me that she's happy with me being his teacher and thanking me for all of the hard work that I do. I'm not worried about getting into any kind of trouble, but I AM worried about my sanity with this situation. I really don't want to lose this kid from my classroom - in a way, I'll feel like I failed. However, it can't continue like this. I honestly don't know how to deal with this mother, I don't think anyone does. Me and the principal discussed giving her an option of allowing him to come an hour a day for a few days, but ONLY IF she drops him right off and leaves right away. I'm okay with that, but I just don't believe that she's actually going to drop him and leave.

    I want to help the boy, I REALLY do. I just don't know how to get through to this mother. It's driving me crazy. I have 14 other kids in this class who I need to look out for. Like the principal told me, I was dealt with a bad hand with this situation, but he has so much faith in me being able to handle it..

    If anyone has any insight/advice on how I can make this better, I would REALLY appreciate it, because I'm extremely stressed out.. Thank you!
  3. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

    Apr 29, 2008
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    Sep 25, 2015

    I don't have any advice but I do feel for you (I have a 9 year old crier in class). It sounds like the problem is more with the mom and I totally agree with your advice that you gave to her, which she is ignoring. I'm sure she also realizes the screwy home situation is messing with the poor kid too. So sorry...hope you can figure it out!
  4. mkbren88

    mkbren88 Cohort

    May 31, 2011
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    Sep 25, 2015

    It sounds like a parent I had this year in Kinder. Mom was obviously never away from her for long. She picked up her daughter early on day 1. Day 2, she apparently wanted to move her daughter to the other kindergarten classroom because I'm "new". My principal backed me 100% and refused to move classrooms, stating how I'm not new, just to the district. (And mom knew this because I met her on meet the teacher and talked to her for a while.). The next day my son was sick so I had to take off and when I came back the next day, mom had withdrawn her. My principal was happy because she was crazy lol

    Sometimes with parents like this, it's better to let them go and let someone else deal with the crazies.
  5. Bibliophile

    Bibliophile Companion

    Jul 5, 2015
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    Sep 26, 2015

    I have had crazies like this before-to some extent it comes with the territory of pre-k. First let me say that you are doing extremely well in this situation for a new teacher. If I had had This happen to me my first year I probably would have done less well in the situation since I was too sensitive to criticism when I was new.

    Unfortunately you may have more work cut out for you than in a regular situation of new student adjustment based crying. His mother has create this by taking him home and keeping him home when he cries. You see he now Knows that this behavior (crying) will achieve the results he is looking for (getting him his mother) if he just keeps at it long enough or often enough. This has proven true and he has test it it many times. Because his schema for how school works and how his behavior is rewarded is being created with these experiences he will persist at crying much longer than a child who hadn't had the pay off of having it get him what he wants multiple times. This will seem to back up his mothers claims that he isn't adjusting and maybe make her crazier because it makes her feel justified.

    I would explain all of this to the mother either in an email (so she can't interrupt you and she has time to think this through before you respond and you have a written record of you communication ) or in a conference with the principal. Explain it all so that when it happens you can say look I told you we would have to go through this. You are going to need the principal as back up quiet a bit in the coming weeks most likely. I would even ask the principal to be in your class in the morning to greet the mother/child with you and to make sure she follows the plan to leave. He is an authority and she seems to be showing him more respect than you or anyone else so his back up will mean a lot.

    The child also clearly is going through a tough time at home with he custody battle/divorce. This will also make his adjustment to change take longer and it's all the more reason why he needs the consistency of the school routine. He needs extra patience in the part of all adults involved. It's not his fault his mom is a nut, that his parent split up, or that his adjustment to school has been complicated. Poor guy, I wanna hug him and I've never even met him.

    Also you may need to be moms cheerleader too. Tell her she is doing a good job leaving her son and that you know how hard it is for her but she is doing so well rising above her own difficult to help her child acclimate to school and become a more independent student. Blah blah blah I know this is hard but your such a great mom for sticking to your guns and doing so well.

    Keep taking pictures of him when he is happy. This is your proof that mom is nuts and that you are doing your job and helping him feel safety and happy at school. Also try to email the pictures to her during the day, as soon as you can (perhaps get your school secretary to send them if you don't have access to a computer in your room or attach them as an email from your phone if you can but don't text them to the mom trust me on this because if you do she'll have your cell number and that will be the start to a whole new level of misery) then you can tell her to go home and she will get an email shortly. So she has a reason to go home and she can feel like she is checking in on him without coming back to the school and ruining all the progress. My preschool had video cameras with secure servers so the parents could sign in and see them any time, but before that I had to send happy pictures many times to parents who really thought that their child cried all day.

    And sometimes the crazy is just too pervasive and they withdraw from school. If this happens don't take it personal. I know it's hard not to, but you can't. You already sound miles ahead of where I was as a first year preschool teacher. Good luck!

    Edited to add: I'm assuming you have a signed photo consent on file. It has always been part of my schools registration packet and we were given a list of all "no photo" students before the first day. Make sure you double check that and dot all your i's and cross all of your t's. Keep a record of everything.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2015
  6. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

    Jul 27, 2015
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    Sep 27, 2015

    Although I agree with the above posters should this just be an anxious mother, I also am seeing an opposing red flag that might warn of caution. If the parents are in a strong custody battle, they might each be trying to prove that they are the best parent for the child, and the mother, father, or both might be trying to put the school in the middle of it. (One possible scenario: what if the mother secretly is hoping to place her child in another school but the father objects).

    What disturbed me were the 3 personalities of the mother, anxious when in the classroom; bold and lying in front of the principal, including sneaking around to your window; and nice, friendly, and flattering on email. I would politely avoid email as much as possible, or at least send a BBC to the principal that would remain unaltered in his computer file. I would be cautious about taking photographs and personally, I would never email them, (or again, unless I BBC'd them). I don't mean to sound frightening, as stuff like this sometimes happens, and it tends to fizzle out, but caution is always advisable. A written record at the end of your day of everything good or bad that happened is also standard procedure for such situations. But the best advice I'd recommend is what you are already doing, stay in close contact with the principal. That's his job to protect you and the school throughout this ordeal.
  7. LisaLisa

    LisaLisa Companion

    Oct 18, 2012
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    Sep 27, 2015

    The mother is in the middle of a custody battle. Her behavior is not about you or what you are doing, but rather her inability to deal with her legal situation. People behave in different ways when they are under stress.
    I agree that you should do all you can to be mom's cheerleader. I do that with all parents. We are a team, even if they don't see it that way. Unfortunately she has some behaviors that are absolutely out of line.
    She refused to leave the room? Call the principal or call the police. It isn't healthy for the other children to be exposed to her rants and raves. Get her out of there.
    In my district you have to give notice that you will visit and can only stay a certain length of time.
    I've had parents push that rule but I stayed firm. I've also had them linger on the school grounds hoping to see something wrong.
    Also, document everything. Be careful - do you have permission from the parents to take photos?
    Also, keep child protective services in the back of your mind.
  8. MLB711

    MLB711 Comrade

    Jul 27, 2011
    Likes Received:

    Sep 27, 2015

    I would absolutely NOT take pictures of this child and send it to the mother. Your intentions are good but don't take that responsibility on you. She is absolutely out of line. If she refused to leave my class I would have called someone to escort her. That's absolutely I appropriate. I am so creeped out by the fact that she was hanging out and watching through your classroom window.

    I think that you are handling this very well, especially for a first year teacher!! Keep your principal in the loop. Keep emailing. Email to both parents so dad knows what's going on as well. Good luck and :hugs: to you
  9. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

    Sep 30, 2001
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    Sep 27, 2015

    Your director/principal has your back. Call his/her office when appropriate drop off procedures and interactions are occurring. Stay out of the middle of the parents' situation. I feel bad for the child- he is picking up on the turmoil in his life.
  10. AlisaScott

    AlisaScott Rookie

    Feb 7, 2016
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    Feb 8, 2016

    I agree with what everyone here has said. I run my own nursery school in Johannesburg, South Africa. When I first started out I had a couple enroll their two year old. They are 'hippies' for want of a better word, and would have preferred to home school if they weren't both also interested in making money by working. They came to me as I'm a small school but totally took advantage. They wouldn't let the child come to school alone, and sent their nanny with him every single day, this continued for the longest time and I never bonded with him. I should never have allowed it, but once I did, I couldn't go back. When a sibling was born, he regressed and then the FATHER who was a big, hairy, barefooted, smelly, loud man, came with him. He questioned my reward and discipline system, often using bad language, and that was my last straw, I asked them to please leave the school. You sure get some crazies. I've also had moms hang about outside for fear of leaving their crying babe, and eventually deciding to withdraw their child from school until they are a bit older. I always just let those parents go, it's never worth fighting about. I have learnt in my ten years of running my little school that parent issues seldom have anything to do with you, they're always fighting their own battles, like your mother with a divorce. Best to just be supportive and if they don't settle, let them go.
  11. Jess15

    Jess15 Rookie

    Nov 12, 2015
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    Mar 5, 2016

    It sounds like the mom is likely overwhelmed by everything going on. Hopefully the situation has resolved one way or another by now but have you thought of letting the mom (or future, similar parents) volunteer in your classroom and slowly taper off the amount of volunteering? Way back when my mom volunteered in my preschool every single class day for 2 years (I started at 2) even though I had a 1:1 para because of a physical disability. My situation was probably a bit extreme but I had a lot of anxiety about being left alone as a child and the school tried to use the para as a gen assistant. Allowing my mom to be there gave her the opportunity to see that I could function in a school environment and gave me the chance to adapt to school while knowing my mom would be there. By kindergarten she dropped me off and only volunteered some days and by 1st grade she wasn't in the class except for field trips. Again this was probably an extreme case but I think sometimes it can be helpful to realize that extenuating circumstances require flexibility. Sometimes the parents need as much help and support as the kids to create an environment where the kids can learn.

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