Saturday, November 1, 2008

Update on Laetitia's anxiety issues.

After fretting and worrying throughout the week, we eventually got around to speaking with the daycare in-house psychologist (who comes in for observation once every month or so) yesterday evening. Her observation of Laetitia (based on the past and what she saw yesterday) plus our input on what is going on in our lives (mainly the new baby coming - my belly getting obviously bigger) is that the root of what is causing the fear/anxiety recently is two folds. Firstly, the personality of Laetitia and secondly the coming baby.

The psychologist said that Laetitia is a very sensitive child and seeks to please. Well, yes, both Etienne and I are rather sensitive... me more then him considering that during the week I had cried twice in the daycare when I felt lost with how I could help my darling. She observed that my little one is very aware of what is going on around her, how her little friends are feeling/doing etc. And in the case of her little friends doing things that she does not like, even though theoretically she knows that she should say "NO, stop", "I don't like it" , "Don't disturb me" etc, she is unable to get herself to do it. The psychologist feels that this is partly due to her nature of wanting to please, she might be afraid that if she says that or take a strong stand like that, her little friends might not like her anymore. This of course causes a lot of conflict within her little being. I guess that is why she becomes scare of going to the daycare or scare of the kids since she does not know how to deal with her conflicting emotions. I have to say that I feel slightly guilty somehow in how Laetitia's personality/character had a part to play in her feeling the way she does now. I had always told her to be nice and share whenever she plays with others even when someone else tries to take something that she is playing with. What the psychologist said is true, to the child, sometimes it is important that we have to acknowledge that they have the right to something first and not always be the one giving in. In the case of Laetitia, right now it seems that the conflict is that she does not like what was being done to her (other kids being pushy or aggressive) but she dare not say stop or no because she wants to be liked. And this caused her a lot of stress (leading to the manifestation of what we had seen the last 3 weeks or so).

Now onto the fact that the pregnancy or imminent arrival of another child in the family is a big change for an only child, the psychologist noticed a few things that explained that Laetitia is showing signs of worry about her place in the family. Watching her over the day and hearing from the caregivers in the daycare, Laetitia has a particularly harder time with newcomers and the psychologist thinks this is a reflection of her being afraid of losing her place/being replaced. Laetitia also constantly ask to be in the babies section instead of the toddlers section and this could be because she is more secured in her relationship with the adults in the babies section compared to the toddlers section plus she is more in control there.

Her suggestions to us includes the following:-

1) Continue to teach Laetitia to say no, stop etc when it comes to other kids doing things she does not like but to add on and explain that doing that will not change how the kids will play with her and want to be with her.

2) At home, spend time being as a family and explain to Laetitia that her place in our hearts, in our family will not change even with the arrival of the baby. We will still love her as much and she is always our little girl.

3) As we had asked if we should stop going to the daycare for a while to give Laetitia a break, she said that it is not necessary and what I should do is to bring her earlier when the other kids have yet to arrive (that means between 12:15pm to 12:30pm instead of 1:30pm), prepare her before we leave the house, reassure her when we arrive, have a little cuddle time with her and then leave even if she does cry. Let the caregivers calm her down and they will then help her welcome each child that arrives after to give her a sense of them coming into her space.

We should do the above and monitor the situation. The psychologist was very kind and also said we can contact her anytime if we need to discuss more in future.

On a side note, we have found a new nanny and though unsure if this is the right time, I think it had better be now then later since we would probably need the help more when the baby arrives and it is better that Laetitia gets used to this person earlier instead of only when the baby arrives. At least by then, it is only one new face instead of two, one change instead of two. It is also a good thing for me to know if this person can be a good help for when the baby arrives.

Gosh, what challenges there lies for parents. Now I really see how striking a balance in what I teach my child(ren) vs their personality is vital. With Laetitia, because she is a gentle and eager to please child, it is more important to teach her to stand for herself and be assertive while maybe baby number two might need the approach I had always taken, to focus more on sharing and being non-aggressive. Well, we'll see. :-)


Anonymous said...

Oh Sandra I'm glad that the psy was able to help and give you concrete steps to take. I think that she is very perceptive.

I don't think that you should feel guilty though about teaching her to share. That is something that most if not all parents teach their children. Sharing is good, but the point that psy made about acknowledging that she doesn't always have to give in when she had a toy first is a good one. I will have to remember that for myself.

See you next week dearie and try not to worry too much = )

Anonymous said...

Take a look at this & all the comments too

N gets bullied too even by the young ones because of her small built & although I haven't gone so far as to tell her to push them back, she has to learn how to defend herself.

At our regular playgroup, N is the oldest amongst the kids. The younger ones always seem to want whatever toys she picks up. I believe in sharing but I'm also wary to say to her "Since you're older, give them your toys". I don't want her to resent having to give in just because she is older. Sometimes she will swap the toy for something else, sometimes she tells them that she will play with it for a while before giving it to them. Chacun son tour.

Anonymous said...

It's hard balancing isn't it. I think the French kids definitely have a firmer approach then us anglophones.

M, I enjoy and have to say I do share metrodad's view but it's hard to teach that to L who finds it hard even to say STOP to the kids. I have to say that I was raised that way. Not to take bullying but firmly fight back when needed.