My 3 year old started going to daycare in the summer and the mornings are pretty rough. The first daycare she attended, she would kick n scream as soon as we pulled up in front of the building and would literally have to get pulled into the classroom. I've now switched daycare providers and at first she seemed to like this location. She would cry shen we first drop her off then after that she's fine, but what we notice is, when she gets upset.. She will scratch her head aggressively n pinch herself. She just got moved to a different class since she is fully potty trained , so it's as if she's starting all over again and her tantrums have upgraded to scratching her lip or face until she bleeds. The school is worried and as a parent I am as well. I guess I'm a little confused because when we go to church, she loves going to Bible school n walks in fine and plays with others, but in daycare she will keep to herself or stick by the teacher. Mind you she does not do this at home. When she's upset at home she will scratch her head and cry but that's about it. Could this be a disorder or is she just having a toddler tantrum?
At Bible school, she isn't there for more than an hour or so and she knows you are in the building. It sounds like she is just despairing because she thinks you are not coming back. Three is an age where they are just starting to reason things out. You can try talking to her about daycare and the time. Show her a clock and let her know that you WILL be back at "this" time. It would be helpful if you had a clock with a face that you could show her the hour on it. Even mark it with a sticky or something.
The pinching and hair pulling is severe anxiety. I'm not a professional, but perhaps it might be worth a counseling session or two with one to talk about it. You could ask the daycare to intervene when they see her doing that behavior with a gentle "Don't pinch" and take her hand or "Don't pull" and take her hand. Follow that with a short reminder on the clock face that Mommy is coming back at "this" time and point to the marking. Follow that with engagement in a favorite snack or toy with soothing sounds.
Trouble is, they are going to have to do that every time until the habit breaks, but they need to do that or this behavior will possibly escalate. Sounds like she's already escalating it.
Do you have a stay-at-home parent option? Some kids are just not ready at 3 to let go of their attachment. A few kids' classes at the community center offer plenty of socialization. Your daughter is telling you loud and clear she's unhappy.
This daycare is a no-win situation. If you require daycare, you might consider switching. Go into a few different ones. Let your daughter choose; it will at least let her feel she has a voice.