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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.

OutragedFromLeeds Fri 08-Mar-13 12:02:43

That's good then smile.

Did you talk about your expectations of what she would do with him? What activities he could be taken to etc. Would be happy if she took him to playgroup and tried to push through the screaming for example? Or do you want him kept away from stuff like that because you don't want him being upset when you're not there? I think that kind of thing is important to tell her, the specifics. Good that DH gave her a bit of a heads up but 'can be a handful' describes every toddler on earth!!

whatsleep Fri 08-Mar-13 12:17:08

When I read your OP I see myself in you! It's so very hard giving the care of your child to someone else, even when you trust them and deep down know they will be fine. I hope you don't mind me saying but I imagine your anxiety about handing over your little one is making your assessment of your child's needs a little clouded. At 20 months he will adapt, he will bond with the new nanny, and the nanny being well experienced and a mum herself will have had all the feelings you are feeling today. Try and take a step back, let the nanny try and do things her way, it's surprising how well little ones adapt to change. I am a mum and have previously been a nanny to many families. My dd (now 8 & 2) were both clingy and needy when with me but were much more flexible (for want of a better word) with other people, I think they just have the emotional pull over us as their mum and soon learn how to manipulate us! As far as the co-sleeping goes, be honest with your nanny, she should be able to work with you to help him self settle. Wishing you luck with a very unMN xx!

I think you have to give her fair warning, then let her try it her way. If she is an experienced nanny she will have known a lot of children with lots of different temperaments, and she will also know that first time mums don't always have a clear picture of how their child is compared to others. That's not s criticism by the way, I think it applies to mums with easy babies too.

MaternityNanny Fri 08-Mar-13 12:44:40

I had a job like this and lasted a week. Really wish the parents were honest in interview to save everyones time.

Not a lot of nannies will lay down with your child, one because of insurance and two nursery duties or tidying up while LO is asleep.

I really think you should be honest. Maybe look at your contracted probation period notice so your not left in the lurch if your going back to work so 2 weeks rather than 1.

MrsPotato Fri 08-Mar-13 13:14:21

maternitynanny the op has said that the nanny said she wouldn't have a problem with lying down next to him for a nap.

But what on earth does insurance have to do with it?!

MaternityNanny Fri 08-Mar-13 14:11:08

Each nanny decides what they are comfortable with. I just wouldn't be happy to do it, imagine if the nanny fell asleep too.. But if your nanny is happy then that's a good thing. Hope it all goes well.

MrsPotato Fri 08-Mar-13 14:14:47

I certainly wouldn't do this either but I've never looked after just one child so not really an option for me!

whatsleep Fri 08-Mar-13 15:19:54

In my opinion a nanny acts as a 'stand in' mum while mum is not there, you wouldn't be concerned with cuddling up on the sofa to read some stories so really why would it be a problem to lay on a bed and soothe him off to sleep if that's what he's used to. OP is not expecting the nanny to get her PJ's on and get into bed with him!?

ReetPetit Fri 08-Mar-13 16:26:08

I wouldn't do this as a cm. Don't know if its different for nannies as its more 'exclusive' but still can't imagine many nannies being happy with this
kind of set up

Welovegrapes Fri 08-Mar-13 20:44:08

We knew the co sleeping needed to be mentioned at interview and nanny has expressly agreed to that and said it is no issue with her.

Welovegrapes Fri 08-Mar-13 20:45:28

Just to say I of course won't expect normal nursery duties when nanny is not going to have a nap time to get them done in.

Welovegrapes Fri 08-Mar-13 20:53:18

Leeds, to answer your questions, I have preserved with some groups myself despite the initial upset - picking him up, calming him down, taking him out if needed and that is how he now does very well at the 3 -4 groups I go to with him. I have been able to do that at those particular groups thanks to lovely group leaders and mums who have been kind and not made me feel they judged me or him. If nanny is bonded with him, calm, understanding and doesn't just leave him to cry when he is fearful I would be very happy for her to try new groups. I think I need to make that clear - haven't yet done that.

My philosophy is that he needs to get used to loud groups as he obviously has to go to school in the end and I would strongly prefer him to go to pre school when he's that age. So I need to be helping him get over his fears without being cruel and traumatising him.

Welovegrapes Fri 08-Mar-13 20:58:51

Agh phone persevered not preserved!! blush

OutragedFromLeeds Fri 08-Mar-13 22:34:34

I think the nannies job will be much easier due to the fact that you clearly have a great understanding on the problems that she might face with your DC and realistic expectations re. nursery duties etc. I really hope it all works out for you. You might be posting in a month to tell us, you were worrying for nothing and DS and the nanny have bonded, no tears etc smile.

I have a friend who works with a child like this. She started with him when he 9 months old and he was very much how you describe your DS. He was fine with her in his house, but if she took him out he would scream/cry the whole time. They used to come to playgroup and he would just sit in his pram, with his coat on. If she tried to get him out or take his coat off the low-level whimpering would escalate to traumatised screaming. She persevered and by 2.5 he was much better, but still a bit anxious at times. He started school this Spetember (he is in the same class as one of my charges) and on the first day just ran in without so much as 'goodbye' to his mum, she was shock at the gate grin. He is the most outgoing, sociable child now, the change is unbelievable. I think at times it was hard for her to stick it out. She only works for them 2 days a week and she has told me that she would dread those days. Her great relationship with the parents was what made her stay I think. She even stayed on for DC2, who was even worse than DC1. She's still with them now 4+ years on, so it definitely can work with a nanny and a high needs child.

drinkyourmilk Sat 09-Mar-13 08:58:54

I just wanted to reassure you that some nannies are happy to take on this type of role.
I have had to co-sleep with a charge and had them 'velcroed' to me. I used an ergo carrier and had her in it pretty much full time for the first few weeks. Gradually she would play at my feet while I was busy. She never did progress to playing in another room, but I'm not sure that's important. She still played by herself while I cooked and ironed.
Some people are just more anxious than others. Continue to give him what he needs, he won't want to be permanently attached at 18!

Zavi Sat 09-Mar-13 10:58:55

I think that you are being far too indulgent with your child in the way that you are making his world fit in around his needs.

Can you imagine the shock he's going to get when he starts school? It is going to be very, very difficult for him to be part of a group.

I think you are doing your child a huge disservice by pandering to him like this now. You may think you're doing what's best for him but in actual fact you are teaching him to be fearful in situations that have not been artificially contrived (such as the nanny co-sleeping for naps) to meet his personal needs.

If you're not planning on home educating him then mark my words you are brewing up a storm here for when he starts school!

And I feel really, genuinely sorry for him because you have not allowed him to develop even a shred of resilience and he is going to really struggle with lots of stuff if he has got no self-resilience / backbone to fall back on.

Welovegrapes Sat 09-Mar-13 11:30:10

Zavi, I think what you are saying is wrong, I'm afraid.

Do you have experience of providing paid childcare to this age group?

How would you suggest dealing with a genuinely frightened child? I don't think just crying children to cry for long periods is generally recommended, is it?

Welovegrapes Sat 09-Mar-13 11:30:48

Leaving children I meant

Zavi Sat 09-Mar-13 11:54:51

The best way to deal with a genuinely frightened child is for the parents to get help.

You are deluded if you think that your child is naturally fearful. He's not. He has become an very anxious child because of the way that he has been molly-coddled, cosseted, over-indulged, suffocated, parented.

You have dismissed my insights without having taken anything on board. That's fine.

I'm telling you OP, <wagging my finger now>, your child is going to struggle massively when he starts school. He will find it very distressing.

P.s. Did you notice your Freudian slip in your reply to me: "I think what you're saying is wrong, I'm afraid ". Honestly, OP it's quite OK to disagree with me! I'm fine about that. I have lots of resilience reserves. Thanks to my parents. grin

SolomanDaisy Sat 09-Mar-13 12:01:08

I think plenty of evidence suggests that meeting the needs of babies/toddlers in their early years enables them to feel secure and confident later on. Nurturing a 20 month-old will not cause them to be unable to cope and school and it is not an 'insight' to suggest it will. Zavi, your post is extremely rude about OP's parenting.

Welovegrapes Sat 09-Mar-13 12:09:20

Zavi, I'm sensitive and caring because of my parents and I am grateful for that. I wouldn't tell a stranger on a talk board that their child would struggle terribly with school unless I was absolutely sure. That's just unkind.

MaternityNanny Sat 09-Mar-13 12:42:06

I actually agree with Zavi.

runs and hides

Zavi Sat 09-Mar-13 12:59:14

I know someone with a similar approach to parenting (helicoptering) in RL.

This other mum's DD is so fearful she: won't go on play-dates (unless mum goes too); won't attend any pre or post-school clubs or activities; doesn't join in any clubs/activities outside of the school; never attends any fund-raising events at school; can not be left at a birthday party - mum must stay; is scared of fireworks/halloween; is too scared to try out anything physically risky (climbing wall, ride a bike); is actually traumatised if the teacher expresses any disapproval; has never spent a night away from mum; is unable to form normal friendships at school (finds other children too rough/mean/noisy/insensitive to them)... I could go on and on and on. You get the picture though.

DD has never been comfortable at school. There have been 3 changes of school in order to find one that DD will be happy in. They are still looking...

That girl is ten. Ten. And she is completely insular.

And you think I'm being unkind?

Let me ask you this: how would you like to be that little girl?

Blondeshavemorefun Sat 09-Mar-13 13:53:01

to a certain extent i do agree with zavi - as in when at school you WONT be able to sit in the classroom and wean him off you over a few weeks/months - it will be straight in

you have made your child dependant on you to fall asleep etc

but thats your style of parenting and fine, but you need to think about the future for your childs sake x

Welovegrapes Sat 09-Mar-13 13:54:53

Zavi and MaternityNanny, this is why it is difficult sometimes for me to be DS's parent. Because others judge you and assume the child's anxiety is all your fault, as you are both doing. Perhaps I might think the same if I had a stereotypically easy baby, to be fair.

We don't get to choose our children and if fate had decided differently maybe you could have had a high need baby. DS has always cried a lot, literally from his first few weeks of life. As a 2 week old if you put him down for 10 minutes he screamed hysterically. He wouldn't go in the pram at all for months - I had to buy a sling in the end. Car journeys involved non stop screaming.

I have done things mostly the same as many other mums I know, other than still being bf and the co sleeping, both of which have been associated in studies with greater independence and confidence in later life, paradoxically. I took him to lots of groups right from being tiny. I make him share, don't fuss over bumps, he plays independently very well at home and at the known groups.

The difference is that he isn't and never has been like other children in his crying/anxiety levels. Maybe when he talks I'll be able to reason him out of his fears, or maybe I will ultimately find out that he does have some SN. Maybe he's just very strong willed. For now, I just don't know.

All I can do as his mother is be here for him, keep encouraging him and taking him to things. I don't think just leaving him to cry is an option.

The older lady at the toddler group I mentioned has told me that she has looked after over 1,000 different children in her career as a session leader. She is also a qualified primary school teacher. I went and thanked her at Christmas for creating the supportive atmosphere that helped me stay with the group when DS struggled so badly at first. She was kind enough to say that she thought most mothers with a child like DS wouldn't attempt groups at all and that it is my persistence in coming and not just going home when he cries that has been the key to settling him in the group.

I would never claim to have all the answers as a mother, but I genuinely don't think I have singlehandedly caused DS to be like this.

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