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High need toddler - what to tell new nanny?

(117 Posts)
Welovegrapes Thu 07-Mar-13 18:13:49

Our lovely new nanny is starting in a fortnight. She is highly experienced (over 18 years nannying) and a mother herself and seems very caring and thoughtful.

I have had a previous bad experience with my son (now 20 months) not bonding properly with a very pt nanny, so am quite nervous about her starting.

I love him to bits, of course, so don't want to sound like I am criticising him, but I think others would describe him as more demanding than the average child. He was a Velcro baby and bf round the clock. Still cries a lot, wants to be picked up often, has to co sleep or he doesn't go down for either naps or at night, finds toddler groups very overwhelming. He is great in the groups we go to often, but if nanny takes him to a new one based on past experience he could easily cry unconsolably for the first ten minutes.

IME settling in will go best if I am there the first few times and start by leaving them alone for short periods of time - building up over the first 2 weeks. He has had acute separation anxiety, but is getting better.

I don't know how much of the above to share with new nanny. If I fell her what I've written here will she think I am patronising her / am a pfb nightmare?

She wants to have him alone for an hour on the first day, but from previous experience I think this won't work. DM says I should be firm and just explain why I don't think he will be happy.

Any advice would be very much appreciated.

nannynick Thu 07-Mar-13 18:58:06

Tell her all of what you wrote here. On first day see how things go and dissappear upstairs for a while to leave them to it but still be on hand if he really really needs you.

Nanny will have to have him on his own at some point, may as well be on day 1, then build up from there.

OutragedFromLeeds Thu 07-Mar-13 19:10:42

Tbh you should have told her this/she should have asked about it at the interview.

You definitely need to tell her as much about him and his likes/dislikes, phobias, behaviour etc as possible.

I wouldn't decide now about how long you'll leave him on the first day. If you go into it with the mindset 'I can't leave him' or 'He won't like me leaving him' he'll pick up on it and be more anxious. Just see how it goes. Stay with him until he is engaged doing something with the nanny and then slip out, stay out until he notices, come back, wait until he is engaged with the nanny, slip out again, see if the nanny can distract/comfort him when he notices, go back if he's upset. If it ends up being an hour with you in another room, then great. If not then don't worry.

A velcro baby with acute seperation anxiety is never going to be happy being left at first tbh. I think if you're trying to get to the point where you can leave him without any tears/upset you might be waiting a long time. Think about the 4/5/6 year olds being torn from their parents by teachers on the first day of school....some kids are just like that always.

bumblingbovine Thu 07-Mar-13 19:31:28

listen to your instincts

Ds was a very similar toddler and child and over the years I would always cave to the child care people I used (childminder, nurseries etc) who always talked the talk about having a "settling in period" but really meant,leave for an hour then longer each time and have him being left for the whole time within a week. I always felt they thought I was being PFB as well if I suggested staying around longer so to my shame now I gave in to their "more experienced view"

The problem was that in each of these settings (one childminder and one nursery between the ages of 11 months and 4 years old) he would have regular periods of crying when left there and although he seemed to calm down very quickly after I left, we never really had a full week in which he never cried on being left which was very difficult to deal with over the 2-3 years this went on.

When he was just 4, we had moved and I started him at a new nursery. As I wasn't working at the beginning I was determined not to have him keep periods of crying when he was left there. So I having stayed for 2-3 hours with him each day for a week, and we always left together. I stayed around but tried to move further and further away from him throughout the week. By the second week he was happy to play without me as long as he could see me and at the end of the second week I was spending spent short period in the nursery where he couldn't see me as he was happily playing but I always came back as soon as he stared crying for me.

By the second week the nursery were making strong suggestions that I leave him alone but I stood my ground and by week three he was happy to be left for an hour with me off the premises but I would come back and pick him up, then he stayed for longer and eventually was going for his 2-3 hours slots.

This all resulted in him never crying even once when I left him at that nursery and he went there for about a year until he started school. He was also generally happier when I picked him up. In the past he had not always seemed happy to see me at the end of the day.

Some children need a much longer time to settle than people think and of course sometimes it isn't practical to spend that amount of time but if you have the time and your DS needs it then don't let the nanny dictate how you handle the transition.

You do need some sort of plan as to how you will "withdraw" but do it as gradually as you like and it will probably be much easier in the long run and your son will probably also be happier with the nanny generally.

Sorry about the massively long post, but this is something I really regret not listening to my instincts about when Ds was a baby/toddler.

badguider Thu 07-Mar-13 19:42:39

I would tell her it all. But also offer solutions.
So when you say for eg that he needs to co sleep even for naps are you suggesting he just won't nap? Or she should lie down with him?
Also in your head and to the nanny, think of your son's behaviours as those he has with you. He may be different with her and you should be open minded about that. She is not you and her relationship with him will be different.

Zavi Thu 07-Mar-13 20:11:50

All of what I say will sound harsh, so either skip this or accept my apologies in advance!

If I was a nanny and I found out after I had started that my new charge wouldn't go down for a nap unless I went with him I would be pretty pee'd off, believe me.

Don't forget: looking after your toddler is her job. She will need a break from him. Especially if, as you say, he is more demanding than most toddlers.

If I were you I would put him in a nursery. Not have him in someone else's sole charge. Toddlers like yours could drive someone over the edge!!

annh Thu 07-Mar-13 20:29:14

Does your new nanny know about any of this? The co-sleeping, the separation anxiety, the frequent crying? None of this is insurmountable but it sounds as if you are worried all of this will come as a surprise so when you interviewed her what did you talk about? Has she met your son? I'm a bit bemused that you didn't talk about this at interview, ask for her strategies in coping with different situations which may arise etc. I would be concerned that she may find the role different to what she believed at interview.

I agree - talk to her about it as soon as you can. I have had a job in the past where a situation a little like yours was sprung on me, on my first day. To be honest I was a bit annoyed that it hadn't been mentioned before that, among many many things, I would have to cuddle the child to sleep, that she would only sleep on me and I wouldn't able to move, that she had no routine so I was expected to do this whenever she fancied a nap despite having several other children to care for. I'm not saying your situation is like that, but I definitely think forewarned is fore-armed and will give her the opportunity to think about how she is going to approach caring for your DS (and not get a nasty shock on her first day).

Welovegrapes Thu 07-Mar-13 20:53:35

Will read all posts in a minute, but before I do should just say that I did tell her about the napping at interview - felt it was vital to ensure whoever we employed was happy with that. I have also checked her refs and found she had successful sole charge of a very demanding 3 year old DS before. I have referred to my DS at interview as 'full on'.

Welovegrapes Thu 07-Mar-13 21:01:20

Thanks Nick, will follow your advice.

Leeds, thanks for your thoughts. I think you are right about how to handle leaving him. Thing is he bonded amazingly with our old ap so i know easing him into separation works really well. Feel really daft not realising I should have mentioned all this at interview sad

Bumbling, what you have written is so interesting and very much what my dm has said - she is saying go with your instincts and be honest with nanny about what you think it is likely he will need.

Bad, yes I agree that how he is with me may not be how he is with her. I asked her at interview if she would be comfortable with lying next to him and she said that would be fine with her.

Will read rest of posts now and reply to those.

neolara Thu 07-Mar-13 21:05:20

I would start by having a conversation with the nanny. I have a friend who is a very experienced nanny who has worked with lots of different families. She is always very sensitive to what the family wants, but she also has quite a good sense of what works well and what doesn't, simply because she's seen and tried lots of different things over the years. She will gently offer her opinion, but will obviously go with what the family wants to do if they want to do things differently. I'm sure your nanny will be similar.

Welovegrapes Thu 07-Mar-13 21:06:24

Zavi tbh i think there is absolutely no way he could cope in nursery - I tried about 5 times to take him to a lovely toddler group locally and he cried terribly - too loud and hectic. He is sometimes fearful of loud noises and used to cry at baby sensory when loudish music came on. Won't nap on his own at all. I think one to one care is best for him.

ReetPetit Thu 07-Mar-13 21:09:00

oh gosh op, i'm sorry but you really should have mentioned all this before now to the poor nanny shock i do feel for her. she may not have wanted to take the job if she'd had known all this. I think you should call her before she starts and let her know just how 'high need' your toddler is tbh.
does your ds have any special needs at all? have you discussed your concerns with your hv?

Welovegrapes Thu 07-Mar-13 21:11:32

Annh, super and neo thanks so much for replying.

Tbh it's now so obvious to me I should have been more upfront sad sad

In my defence we were meant to have a trial which ended up being cancelled numerous due to DS having a series of illnesses - I was going to talk her through all this then. She did meet him, but only briefly, which I didn't think was a problem because of the half day trial.

We have agreed there will be a probation period. Should I just have an upfront chat on the first morning? She seems very pleasant and capable and I can't imagine her judging or taking against DS. I think she is very kind and can do iyswim.

Welovegrapes Thu 07-Mar-13 21:15:57

Reet I think he is just very sensitive and anxious, like both his parents. I think it's because I fear people thinking there is something wrong or that he is somehow not a nice child that I don't tend to talk much about his sensitivities.

Tbh I also just thought good very experienced nannies will be capable of bonding with and getting the best out of most children.

I didn't realise I should go through everything in detail sad

Fishlegs Thu 07-Mar-13 21:17:37

It might not be so bad. My now 18mo sounds similar but after a (fairly protracted!) period of getting to know her, will be happily rocked to sleep in the pram by our lovely nanny, whereas for me/dh she'll only sleep when bf (clearly not an option for dh) or in the car. They do adjust and behave differently for different people.

I wouldn't be bound to leaving him for an hour on the first day, as someone else suggested see how it goes and maybe try slipping out for a few minutes at a time.

Tell her everything about the groups too, she won't want to be put in the position that he's crying hysterically for ten min and she doesn't know why.

Are you feeling happy that you've got the right nanny? We're on our third now ( got older kids too) and each time we've interviewed I've emphasised our child centred ( maybe slightly wacky to some) approach, and got a feel for how sympathetic they are to it. Are ou worried that she won't take these things on board and look after ds in the way that you'd like?

ReetPetit Thu 07-Mar-13 21:19:37

its only fair though welovegrapes. when you think about it, it's like you taking on a job without being told the job description. This is her job. It should be her decision to make whether she wants to deal with all this!!
Really, to be honest, and I don't mean to be rude, your anxieties appear to be rubbing off on your child, and it may be you making him 'high need' in which case you really should be dealing with that yourself. Sorry.

(before anyone jumps on me one of my boys was fairly hard work - for that reason i would not have used pre school childcare - lovely to me, a nightmare to everyone else!)

Welovegrapes Thu 07-Mar-13 21:23:03

Fish I'm still bf DS too, but he is luckily happy to nap for others - dm, DH, our previous aps without a bf. I guess we also have what some might see as a bit of a child-centred approach!

I think I feel rushed because I really liked her at interview but after our last experience I wanted a trial to check we were compatible and that hasn't been possible. Tbh I think we are pretty compatible because her answers at interview showed her to be very caring in approach.

Welovegrapes Thu 07-Mar-13 21:24:58

Reet, I am the breadwinner, unfortunately and DH doesn't want to be a sahd.

Welovegrapes Thu 07-Mar-13 21:28:51

Reet about my anxieties rubbing off on him, it's always possible, but I hide my anxiety pretty well - to the extent that a close relative once told me it must be nice to be like me and not to worry about anything!! I've even been complimented on my calm parenting by a kind deluded leader of one of the groups we go to who had a similar very clingy toddler in her young days.

OutragedFromLeeds Thu 07-Mar-13 21:31:36

Don't worry Welove interviewing a nanny is not something that anyone automatically knows how to do, you'll know to be more upfront in the future.

I would try and talk to her/get her round for a trial between now and when she starts. I don't think springing it on her on the first day is fair.

It is hard to nanny for children like this. I'm a capable nanny and could do it, I wouldn't choose to though because it just makes the job unecessarily stressful and unenjoyable. If you tell her and she decides not to take the job after all then she wasn't the nanny for you. It would be better to find that out now than she quite after 3 months because she can't take the stress. It can be very isolating to care for a child who can't be taken to anywhere noisy.

I think, if you can chat to her about it before she starts, then do so. It will give her time to think about and perhaps research approaches on how to tackle it, and hit the ground running so to speak. What I like about my job is that if one of the children has a problem, my employer and I chat about how we should approach it and present a unanimous front, so to speak! I think your nanny would probably welcome the opportunity to do the same with you. As it is, it sounds like she's got lots of experience so she might have lots of good suggestions that you may not have tried yet.

Blondeshavemorefun Thu 07-Mar-13 23:41:26

Yes you need to tell the nanny what you have said here

She may decide that your son is too high maintenance - she may not

Sounds like he just needs to hav the gentle approach to doing new things like groups and other children

Co sleeping / you may find he is totally different for nanny then you - as many children are for parents and then nannies/cm and nurseries

I've had children who are bf to sleep or rocked or they don't sleep / don't sleep more then 30mins at a time etc

And obv I can't bf a child I am looking after wink - so put in cot and walk out of room and keep an ear out and child falls asleep no tears (or boobs lol) within a few minutes and slept for 2hrs

Maybe you need to wean yourself off your child as much as he does with you (not meaning bf but as in gettin him to not be stuck to you iyswim)

As nick said the nanny will have to have child alone at some stage so start off as you mean to go on

Assume you will be at work in two weeks so I think it is important to allow nanny to bond without you - easier on all 3 of you so yes do leave them alone even for a short while

So your son bonded well with your ap but not with your part time nanny - why do you think this was?

Welovegrapes Fri 08-Mar-13 00:03:18

So much helpful advice here - thank you all so much.

Blondes, I think because both ap have really taken time to get to know him and just accept him as he is. Last ap said he was great company and really fun to care for - nice for a proud pfb mum to hear smile nanny was pretty rigid and wanted to slot him into her set ways of doing things that often just didn't work for him. She never seemed to "get" or really like him sad. Of course it's easier for ap in a way as they live here so DS just accepted them as part of the family.

Welovegrapes Fri 08-Mar-13 11:57:19

Just speaking to DH and showing him the thread so he sees your suggestions. He says that at the interview he feels he made it pretty clear that DS is on the demanding side, so nanny would not be surprised if she took the job. He says that at the end he actually said DS can be a handful - don't actually remember that, but do remember she told us about 2 successful jobs she had where one/more of the children were fairly demanding. He says that was in response to his comment. Feeling a bit better now!

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