KID STUFF : Please, Mommy, Don’t Leave Me


The big day has finally arrived--the first day of nursery school.

But what if your happy, well-adjusted child pleads with you not to leave?

What did you do wrong?

Probably nothing, says Louise Bates Ames, associate director of the Gesell Institute of Human Development in New Haven, Conn.

Bates Ames says about 50% of children have problems separating from parents on that first day.

However, there are steps you can take to ease the pain.

“Talk about it in a very natural way. Say, ‘Isn’t it nice that you’ll be going to nursery school like so and so?’ The chances are 50-50 that they’ll accept it.”


She cautions against such platitudes as “You won’t be afraid” and “You won’t miss me,” saying such statements can trigger anxieties the child might not otherwise have felt. Books about the first day of school may have the same effect, she says.

Some schools will allow a parent and child to visit and explore together before the term begins. You can tell your child, “This is your new school. I’ll stay with you today, but the next time you come, you’ll play with other children while I go to work (home, shopping and so on).”

Familiar faces may prove comforting as well.

Carol Weston, author of “From Here to Maternity: Confessions of a First-Time Mother,” suggests getting a copy of the class list and arranging play dates with future classmates.