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Crying at School


crying at school

I have 3.75 year old twin girls. They were born 2 months premature, but have zero developmental or physical problems. My concern is as follows: the twins started preschool in October. The school is small has a total of 12 to 13 children, including the twins. They were eager to go to school, displayed zero signs of separation problems and were very happy. 

Now in April, they are having behavioral problems at home and school, are displaying signs of separation anxiety and are just "not themselves".

There was a biting incident in late January, which I addressed immediately, there have been no others, with the exception that my older twin ( the one who was bitten) bit her sister, one time only.  There was the introduction of a new  boy child to the group, in January who throws tantrums for no apparent reason, my twins seemed unaffected at first but now break into tears for no apparent reason and stop just as suddenly.  They still say that they want to go to school, but from all reports cry and whine for me "I want my Mommy", almost incessantly.

The preschool teacher say that they are suffering separation anxiety. I don't understand, isn't that supposed to happen at the beginning of the separation and not 3 months in?

When 3 and 4 year old children start pre-school, anxiety is the norm. I agree that it is usual for your daughters to have seemingly adapted well initially and then months later show signs of anxiety at school.

It sounds like an event has “stressed” them. Most likely it is something that happened at school. It is possible the biting incident or the child with frequent tantrums has them on edge. It could be an event a home: Has a pet died? Have you recently moved?

Twins present a unique problem and they often feed off each others emotions. It could be that only one of your daughters is upset and the other is crying out of sympathy for her twin. In my office, if I frightened one twin both typically begin to cry.

Start by talking to them. “Your teacher tells me you cried in school today. Why were you upset?” “Why was your sister upset in school.” “I want to you to enjoy school. How can we make school go better?” “What should you do when your sister starts to cry?”

How have you responded to their crying? Are you encouraging the behavior? You may set up a star chart or a sticker chart to reward their happy days.

A lot can be learned by observing their behavior with the other children. Are you able to observe in the classroom? Are other classmates having the same issues? Could you host a play date and invite some of their school friends over to observe the interactions?

Evaluate the school. Is this the right place for your twins? Are they helping resolve the issue? Are they safe? Once you have made your decision stay confident. While I think it is important to investigate, this should pass with a consistent routine and time.


Written May 2011 by
Dr. Gordon, Orlando Pediatrician


 is intended to help parents understand the needs and behaviors of children. The information presented in the site is the opinion of Gregory Gordon, M.D.and does not reflect the opinion of his partners. This website is owned exclusively by Doctors insights LLC. The advice in this site does not apply to all children. Always consult your healthcare provider for your individual needs.

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