Hi! Okay. I am a nanny and I currently take care of a four year old and an 18 month old. The four year old has some behaviors that to me, are a bit odd. Now, I will say I don't have children of my own yet. I have been around a few children ranging in ages but I am just trying to get opinions and advice. Their mother and father are gone ten hours a day working Monday through Friday. The two girls are the complete opposite. The toddler is very needy and wants to be with you constantly and I think she's got some separation issues as far as with her parents, especially her father. When he is home working in the office she cannot go five minutes without wanting to check on him. The baby is very independent, wants to do everything on her own likes to play on her own, she likes to snuggle but not for long periods of time. Well...The toddler has this weird issue with her feet. She is obsessed with rubbing her feet and toes on my feet and toes (She does it with the parents too). Whenever we sit down her feet shoot directly towards my legs/feet. She also is either rubbing or squeezing my arm with her hand or fingers. I know it's probably more than normal that a toddler doesn't want to sit still but she does movements with her head or hands or legs/feet. Like we will just be sitting here watching a cartoon and I wouldn't call it a "tick", I'm not quite sure what to call it but I've just never noticed a child to do the things that she does. She is also always making weird, obnoxious noises too but I think that has to do with jealousy issues with her little sister because when the baby makes noises and things she tends to get positive attention because it's cute. The toddler also has more energy than I know what to do with. I've never encountered a toddler who has as much energy as she does. She rarely ever goes to bed on time and she's up and rearing to go at 7:30 a.m. and she goes all day long nonstop wanting to go go go go go with rarely ever taking a nap. I can take her to the beach for four hours and when we get home she is STILL a ball of energy. I've started to work on her with the whole feet issue just recently and I've noticed it's almost like an addiction. I have to constantly remind her not to do it and even then I watch her try to sneak her feet towards mine and she has even tried to do it with her hands. I've mentioned it to her parents and they aren't really sure why she does it and we've never gotten in to detail about it. Basically I just want to know are her behaviors generally normal or is something up?
4 year old...Odd behaviors.
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The rubbing feet and arm thing sound like behaviors that just soothe her. Some kids are just high maintenance and its perfectly normal. For some reason, the high energy ones also tend to be the ones that like a lot of physical contact from what I've observed.
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Nothing you mentioned raised red flags for me. My 4 year old has a weird self-soothing habit too. We call it "picking." When he is tired, going to sleep or waking up or just chilling (like watching tv) he rubs and picks at my arms. Since I have been pregnant I have a really hard time being touched like that and I will ask him to stop for a little while, but like you described its almost sub-conscious, his hand is always sneaking back. It started after I weaned him and I figure its his way of making sure he is still getting skin-to-skin contact. I don't think its any different than any other habit, thumb-sucking, twirling hair, carrying a lovey. Is there a reason you are working on breaking the habit with her?
while self soothing is normal for that age, what would concern me is how long you have been with this family- if only a short time - IMO, I would not be comfortable with my child using an adult for self-soothing, one who just came into her life (yes she should feel at ease with you)- if she is doing this with others outside of the family I would (THIS IS ME) prefer the child learned to do her own soothing that would not involve touching others-have the parents said anything? - by this I mean- do they feel it's OK to do this to non-family? do they want you to try and stop her from doing so on you?
I would definitely mention it- at least bring it up and see what they say. (her doing so on just her-not on others)
Some people love touch feely types others do not like it.
Edited by serenbat - 5/10/12 at 10:31am
That makes a lot of sense. She sucks her fingers also and has for a long time as a soothing tool. I think because her parents are gone so much, she's got anxiety and separation issues. I've tried everything to get her to stop sucking her fingers but I think I am the only one who really sticks with my guns and doesn't give up. Her parents are gone so much and feel guilty about being gone so much that I think they just try to keep the peace when they are here.
I started working for the family a year ago so I'm not to sure how things were done before I came along but I think she's got a lot of separation and maybe anxiety issues as far as her parents being gone so much and it could be a soothing technique. I am trying to break the habit because I do not like for my feet to be touched. I don't enjoy being touched like that in general. I don't mind hugs, and I don't mind affection from my husband but I am just uncomfortable with it. I know she doesn't mean anything by it and I know she's just doing it because it's her way of being soothed and being comfortable but she also needs to learn about personal space and respecting others. I know she is only four so I can't technically sit her down and explain person boundaries. If her parents don't mind it that's fine, but I don't like it and I'm not going to allow her to do it with me.
I have been with the family for a year but she has been doing this ever since about a month in to me working for them. I know that she does it with the parents but I don't know if she does it with others. I have had her around some of my friends and family and she has never done it but I can't recall a time where we were sitting some where long enough for her to engage in the behaviors. I have brought up the whole feet thing and they just say "Oh yeah, I don't know why she does it, it's weird." and it hasn't been brought up since then. I don't think it bothers them for her doing it with me because they want me to be somewhat "part of the family." I'm more concerned as far as her issues being linked to ADD or ADHD, or even psychological things as far as her parents being gone so much. She has gotten better in the past year that I have worked for the family, she used to scream and pitch a fit every time her father would leave but she is always very concerned with what time her father is getting home from work and if he works from the office at home she is asking every 3-5 minutes if she can go check on him (that is, if we are at the home which I usually try to keep her out all day so he can actually get work done). I'm concerned because she does the finger sucking soothing mechanism while doing all these other things which makes me feel like her own soothing mechanism isn't working that well, which I feel she should be outgrowing any ways. I've spoken with her dentist and it has affected her upper pallet and her teeth and I've tried everything under the sun to get her to try to stop and it hasn't worked. I feel like she has a lot of nervous energy as far as the movements and her feeling like she constantly needs to be moving. Even on days where we are involved in physical activities and things she still does it.
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4yo is still pretty little, hardly out of babyhood, and still very much with the habits they develop as babies. If the feet rubbing is hard for you to tolerate (I would understand that) you should have some kind of replacement for her, because with parents gone 10 hours a day (I've been nanny to those families) they need to have a someone to fill that void.
So, fill the void for her. Don't stop these behaviors because you think they should be checked, but only if they physically bother you, like her rubbing her feet on you which can be felt as a physical intrusion for some people. So, I would relax on the hand sucking. That's a good replacement--perfectly age appropriate.
that stands out more to me-if things aren't better and you were there a year and still she is struggling it's ashame the family doesn't see this-more so the lack of dealing with separation, not that she has a psychological disorder as much as she has struggling so to deal with the feelings
I don't know that you are the one to address that (not saying you are not doing what you should be doing!) but maybe mom and dad have to prioritize their life- can't imagine that yet another transition into pre-school or K will go so well-IMO
you are the care giver for 10 hours and this is how she is- how is school going to go? poor thing
Edited by serenbat - 5/10/12 at 2:23pm
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Honestly, it sounds like she could be an extremely high functioning child with Autism. Perhaps not but, I have worked with Autistic children and ADD, ADHD. I worked with more severe cases of Autism but have seen some high functioning children with Autism as well, they love texture and touch, will often sit on your lap, they have tons of energy but usually can't sit still or pay attention for long. They often make random noises and I haven't met one that didn't have extremely sensitive ears, especially to high pitched noises like a wound up jewelery box or a watch beep. It may not be this at all but the fact that it seems like an addiction that she has little or no control over is what makes me suspect. Obviously she would need to be evaluated by a professional and I could be completely wrong, but some of those things remind me of what I have seen in other children. Sounds like you are handling everything great, good luck!