We have a sad girl on our hands at the moment. Not sad all the time, but most definitely sad when we go to School. I’m at a loss to work out just exactly why she is anxious this term, or if something in particular has happened to make her feel this way, but in the three days we’ve had so far this term, we have had tears each and every time.

There are grumblings in the morning now about whether it’s a “School Day” or not, whereas it used to be a happy “Yeeesssss! School!” We are fine once dressed on our way, fine when we get there, fine for bag drop off, fine for the ringing of the bell, but when it comes to assembly it’s not so fine.

I think it’s a combination of her putting pressure on herself to do really well at stuff and because it’s actually hard {this learning business} and not coming as easily to her as she would like, she has kind of just given in. Maybe? And she’s tired. And she has been unwell with a cold. And sometimes just being 5 is a tricky business is it not?

This morning we will try again. I’ll buoy her up with false enthusiasm while inside I just feel as sick and nervous about it all as she does. If there are tears, we will wipe them away, and try again tomorrow. And then again the next. One thing I do know about parenting is that as soon as a new problem begins, before you know it, it’s over and a new hurdle is ready to be replaced. While it’s School assembly angst this week, it will be the lunchbox, or Hockey or something else next week right?

Are we having fun yet?


  1. If it helps just the littlest bit, it’s the same round here. Amy goes to bed fine but wakes up very anxious and nervous, so much so that she can’t eat breakfast. She cries getting dressed and says it’s because she is going to miss me. I am trying hard to be gentle and understanding but also firm. She tells me she wants me to stay with her until she can hold her teachers hand but I am focusing on helping her remember she can’t control the circumstances at school but she can control her reaction and emotions. I head this is a fairly normal transition and we just have to brave it out! X

  2. Oh Beth – I’m not a mother (yet) but I am a governess to twins in an outback schoolroom. I had tears from both of them yesterday as we tackled this *$%# new curriculum, and for no apparent reason?! I was exasperated and exhausted, just like them, as to know the cause. Sometimes they’re just tricky characters, and when you think about it a lot has happened to Daisy in the last four months in terms of her whole five years. Big changes. And you’re right, next week she will trot off to school and have a new challenge to face, but that’s why you’re there to help her face the challenges, pick herself up, dust off and trot off into the next one! Here’s hoping anyway. Good luck!

  3. Sometimes it is as simple as reality setting in! The novelty has worn off and she senses that this is her lot for some time to come. Very hard seeing them like this but “this too will pass.”

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  5. Hi Beth
    I too have a gorgeous 5 year old daughter. This started happening to her friend recently. Out of the blue she would burst into tears the minute she had to go into the classroom. It was really distressing for her mum to see this confident girls break down every morning and not know why! I ended up taking her the next week to see if it would break the habit and straight away it stopped, she would happily skip of with my daughter and not look back!
    I hope it is this simple for you and that school drop off is an exciting time again!

  6. When my second son started school we had the same problem too. He would cry when I had to leave him at his classroom, clinging to me and wanting me to stay. This continued EVERY SINGLE DAY for about the first 6 weeks of kindy. It was upsetting for him and me as well but when I spoke to his teacher about it, she made sure she was available every morning to help him deal with me leaving. I’ll never forget her kindness, bless her.

    Keep being strong, Beth. Most of my friends have had to deal with this with at least one of their kids. She’ll be okay if she sees you’re okay.


  7. :-).. That picture is gorgeous b.t.w… :-).. I have sent four children to school and every single one of them in the second term of preps decided school wasn’t for them, they cried, they refused to get up in the morning, everyday they asked if it was the weekend yet!….it made me so sad for them, so I spoke with their teachers and they started giving them special jobs first thing in the morning, justfor them, it made them feel a bit special, and I did something, I’m not proud of, I bribed them…I wld say if you go to school without tears today, I’ll take you to the chemist and you can choose something…usually it was lip balm or nail polish or in my sons case squishy gooey slime….but it worked after a few weeks….once they were happy to go to school we gradually dropped off the bribes….xx goodluck, I used to go home in tears…’s heartbreaking I know!…xoxo

  8. Me? Tether? End of it. Let’s battle on Bath xx

  9. Beth, my son also did this in the second term of Pre-Primary (when he was 5 so I imagine similar to Prep). The teacher (who was older and had a child of her own) said that it is very common and has a lot to do with the novelty wearing off and the routine setting in. It was very upsetting though. He settled down within the first half hour and was actually having a good day by the time I picked him up. We tried to concentrate on the fun stuff about school and do litte things like make sure he had something special in his lunchbox.

    Like Kelly I resorted to bribery – or incentivising to make it sound better – we had little rewards for a happy drop off. (Unlike Kelly I am quite proud of it – we have a benign dictatorship in our house, bribery is just fine sometimes…!!!)

    As you say she will get through this.

    Take care and good luck.

  10. This post resonates with me because that’s what I was like for the first year (or 5) at school. I still remember how I felt. I think it just takes time. Hopefully in a few days or weeks she’ll be bounding off with a smile. I wouldn’t worry too much as I think it’s pretty normal, though it’s horrible as a parent.

    Lucy has been the same with preschool, she loved it for two terms and then halfway through last term just decided she didn’t. She’s fine until I go to leave and then the tears start. She’s decided that the kids don’t like her (and I know they do as they run up and ask her to play, but she huffs ands says ‘no you don’t want to’) and that she can’t do things as well as they can. She’s’ very competitive and she puts a LOT of pressure on herself to do things well and I think that has a lot to do with it. She’s the youngest so is always pushing herself to keep up.

    Hugs and I hope the anxiety and tears vanish soon. x

  11. Poor kid. Poor mum. Five IS hard xx

  12. Oh poor thing! Have you asked her teacher what she is like during the day after she has been dropped off. So hard being a Mum sometimes and not knowing what is wrong or how to help.

  13. We have been through exactly the same thing. exactly.
    Last term Lulu was over the moon in love with school.
    This term we get there and she does the sook routine, snuggling into me, teacher having to prize her away.
    We’re into week three now, and only yesterday did she ask for a kiss and go on her own. She reminded me of it after school like it was some extraordinary effort on her behalf.
    My daughter is struggling and has been given ‘extra homework’ to help bring her up to speed. I think the pressure she is putting on herself is the issue, she knows she is struggling, she knows how far ahead some of the other children are and she doesn’t like it. But because it’s hard rather than get on with it shes overwhelmed and wants to go hide in a cave.
    I’d love to let her but instead I have to go through this process each morning and pray like hell she’ll ‘get past it’. Good luck at your end, it’s bloody exhausting isn’t it.

  14. Hi Beth, I try to let ‘one-off’s’ slide as they are usually nothing serious and resolve themselves until, as you say, the next thing comes along. But if it’s happening everyday that’s really distressing. My sister’s boy just started Kindy in NSW and has had some days like this since the beginning of term2 – a realisation that this is where he’ll be for the next 13 years and the novelty wearing off etc. Enough to make anyone cry really! Are you talking about the daily assembly roll call thing or the weekly assembly? When I was 5 I remember so clearly having the weekly assembly angst for a bit. During 1 assembly the Principal was talking about a naughty school kid who did something wrong and I just started crying and they all thought I was the culprit and so I had assembly angst for a few weeks after that freaking out that I was going to be blamed for doing the naughty stuff. Sensitive soul. Hope she has a morning tomorrow. Mel x

    • Oh Mel! You poor thing…I think she does that, takes on everything the Principal is saying even if it doesn’t have anything to do with her! Thanks so much x

  15. Okay – I’ve just written, re-written and deleted a whole heap of advice. But I don’t know your possum like you do.

    It all boiled down to have a one on one with your little girl. Sometimes they just need to be listened to and made to feel special so they know their feelings are heard.

    Othertimes – they might just need a little push (like we all do) in the mornings.

    Goodluck….it’s never easy when your heart is hurting for them.

  16. Maybe the school holidays made her think she is missing out on stuff at home? Maybe she thinks you guys are doing all the fun things while she’s at school? But maybe the novelty of school has worn off? Maybe she’s realized this is a full time gig for the next 12 years & that’s caused her to get upset?

    Whatever it is, your right, it’ll pass in its own sweet time to be replaced by something else…hugs to you Beth because this thing sucks!!’

  17. Oh, that must be hard. Hugs for you! I would guess she needs some space and time to talk with you so she can verbalise what is upsetting her. Maybe a mum and daughter outing on the weekend to talk. Once you know the issue, then you can make a plan together about what to do when she is feeling sad at school. A plan may make her feel a bit more in control.

    And I just have to say, that is an endearing pic! x

  18. OMG, I just had to comment for the first time. This has also happened to my 5 year old. Last term he was soo keen and would bounce into school. If the bell went he sprinted to the classroom so he wouldn’t be late.
    This term however there has been tears and tantrums. This morning I tried for 15 mins to get him to go into the classroom. No..he said he’s quitting school. I dragged him in physically in the end and the teacher grabbed him and asked him to be her special helper. That did the trick and I bolted.. It used to be so easy and now I feel like crying every morning. So you are not alone in this. Hoping it will get better as term progresses.

  19. We have the same thing here. My 5 year old is a January baby and some of the kids in her class are a year older than her. She feels overwhelmed at times and not keen to go to school each morning. She just wants to stay home and play. I was ready to pull her out of school and go back to kinder after first term (all those teary mornings!), but the teacher says socially and academically she’s fine – she’s just being a Prep. Tired, and taking time to get used to this learning gig. Lets hope both our girls get into the groove quickly…for our hearts sake. I found that putting my perfume on a cotton wool ball and popping it in her pocket has helped alot. It seems she was missing her family mostly. Her teacher says she see’s S pull it out and have a sniff and then she puts it back and gets on with things. I told her that when she can smell me, remember that I love her. It seems to be working so far. x

  20. Seeing our kids upset is never easy, especially when we’re not quite sure why they are upset or how we’re going to help them get through it.
    For weeks last term we had a battle every morning to get our 5 year old on the school bus (despite catching it to preschool for 12 months already) despite her also loving school. Every morning she would grab hold of me and refuse to get on the bus, while I tried to get her up the steps, she just kept saying ‘I just want you Mum’. It broke my heart. Eventually with the help of some lovely year 6 girls on the bus and some big stickers on the sticker chart we worked our way through it. Every morning though I cried the whole way home worrying about her, and she looked so little on the big bus.
    HOpefully your little girl will have a better morning tomorrow and gradually it will improve. It sucks sometimes to be a parent, especially at times like these. Big hugs to you.

  21. Francesca says

    They say this is common for kindy kids at the beginning of term 2. Our son’s teacher warned us prior so we were prepared when it happened. Apparently a big factor is fatigue, mainly of the brain as it is developing so quickly with the new rate of learning. It definitely passes, rest assured. And then they never want to be at home:( you can’t win…….

  22. Oh spot on Lady, there is always SOMETHING in this parenting gig. But like yourself, it makes me feel sick to my stomach when Angus isn’t at ease with a situation. All we really want for them is to be happy and smart and popular and themselves and a million other things which are so difficult to achieve… or at least achieve all at once.
    Between you and I, I’m quietly terrified by the start of school next year. So many variables, SO much out of our control. It’s like they’re not our babies anymore, but then, they’ll always be our babies, which means the worry is going to be present, no matter what.
    I hope little Daisy gets over this small bump in the road real soon. No doubt she will and when you work out what it is bothering her, you’ll probably kick yourself for how simple and obvious the concern is. xoxo
    No wonder you’re smashing up Sara Lee choccie cakes… my foodometer has been off the richter scale in recent months, stress will do that to a gal.

  23. I am having the same problem with my kindy girl. First term was fine, now we have tears every day, all the way to kindy. It’s heartbreaking! I think she’s tired, and there are too many changes. She says she just wants to stay at home with Mummy. 🙁

  24. First up, really, really beautiful photo.

    Second up, I think kindy is SUPER hard. It’s all unknown. Those little people were so well-nurtured and looked after at pre-school, and when they go to school – they are thrown out into a playground. They can’t find their friends at lunch time, they’re lost. Well that’s how it was for us. We had a really tricky year, where Noah was bullied – but didn’t talk about it for a long time, and it was so emotional.

    I would chat with the teacher and find out if they know anything or have seen any signs. I do that – and they keep an extra eye (like a glass eye) on your little soul to keep everything in check.

    Kindy is such a big year – be kind to yourself. x

  25. Ahh, it’s the dawning of the age of realising ‘holy shit I have to do this again? What? And today?’ Cue: eye roll, foot stomp, wailing, and so on.

    When she starts saying her socks feel funny, that’s when you’re really screwed.

  26. I felt like one of those smug mothers in 3 and 4 year old kinder, right through to the last term of preps. I had no issue with separation anxiety from my daughter. She loved it all! Then suddenly in term 4 of preps she started crying at line up time. Where did it come from? It wasn’t what was happening at school. It was more about what she was missing out on at home and wanting to be with me. Now in term 2 of grade one it is still happening 3 out of 5 days. I’ve tried lots of things. Her Dad even brought her home again one day, he felt so sorry for her. Now we have strategies. We have a special magic little person pinned inside her uniform, she has a crystal egg in her pocket which has special magic powers, she takes her doll and leaves it in her locker. She says she can feel her hug power when she goes to her locker. I put encouraging notes in her lunch box. When all else fails I pop some Rescue Remedy under her tongue and that does wonders. Sometimes when I am not feeling kind and compassionate I say “sometimes you just have to do stuff you don’t want to. Stop that sniveling and get on with it!” Then I feel awful. Funny that being mean and tough like that often is very effective!

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