View Full Version : Advice re 2 year old's behaviour

06-11-2014, 01:50 PM
I have been looking after a little boy who is now 2 years 5 months for coming up to a year. I know his family on a personal level and have spent time at his house and his personality is so different when he is here with me alone (he is more like his 'usual' self if his mum or brothers are here too). In my experience 2 year olds are pretty impulsive but he seems to really hold back while here. I don't think in a year he has ever cried here - even when he's fallen and hurt himself - yet at home he's very, well, like a two year old! I have always found that if we do an activity which is based on one of his interests he can really come to life, he comes out of himself, is chatty etc. but it doesn't last. He only comes during term time and every time he's had a break we seem to move backwards. Since half-term it seems to have been worse than ever. I don't think he's spoken a word to me all week! If I ask him a question he may nod or shake his head but he doesn't make eye contact with me. If I ask him to do something, for example to wipe his hands and face after snack time, he looks the other way and completely ignores me. If I ask him a question which requires more than yes or no he'll either ignore me or whisper an answer so quietly I can't hear him and if I ask him to repeat it louder he just won't. I know he can and does speak, does get excited, upset, frustrated etc. because I've seen him in his home environment but he's obviously not at all relaxed here because he's just not himself. He's more chatty with my 2 year old than he is with me. He joins in all the activities, plays as you would expect, just won't communicate with me and keeps all his emotions under wraps! Any advice please?

06-11-2014, 04:08 PM
Some children feel as if we are testing them (like an oral exam for us) when we constantly ask them questions, tell them to do things etc and they won't speak or respond in case they get it wrong, whispering an answer is a classic sign of this he is unsure of the 'correct' response you are expecting so he whispers what he thinks is right, asking to repeat it louder won't make him say it again, another classic response of this type of behaviour is when asked "why did you do that" they reply "because l did" sometimes they just don't have the words to answer sometimes it takes a while for them to think of the answer string the words together and then say them out loud by which time we have repeated our question several times. He doesn't feel under so much pressure at home or when playing with other children to perform he can be himself this is shown in your statement where you say he comes to life when you do an activity that is based around his interests he on familiar ground and feels safe in these circumstances. I am not for one minute suggesting you are doing anything wrong but what l would do with this child would be to take him a stage backwards don't ask questions that require an answer but give an open ended statement, don't ask him to do things but say lets wipe your hands and face and do it for him, do lots of activities that he likes and that follow his interests talk about them while playing, once he feels more confident he will relax around you at your house because you know him socially as well he may be confused about how to act at your house. Its definitely not you its his personality that is different to most children.

06-11-2014, 07:36 PM
Some children do react differently depending on the setting ... I used to have 1 who chatted away at home and chose not to speak at all here.

It's hard work but they do come out of it eventually - lots of patience and gentle encouragement x

06-11-2014, 09:28 PM
I wonder if the LO might possibly have selective mutism? There's some info in the link below, as well as some strategies for supporting children with it (which also look interesting for supporting any child that doesn't feel comfortable communicating.)

Selective mutism - NHS Choices (http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/selective-mutism/Pages/Introduction.aspx)

09-11-2014, 10:10 PM
Thank you all, such helpful responses. I'll definitely try to take any pressure off of him to communicate with me (I have been getting frustrated with him ignoring me or avoiding talking to me and he may very well have sensed that) and will just try to have lots of fun and help him to relax. His mum babysat for me last week and when I arrived to collect my daughter from their house he was talking to me and showing me all his toys.

Do you think I should keep any records of the situation in case it turns out to be a bigger issue?

09-11-2014, 10:13 PM
I can't remember whether I mentioned it below but the thing I find most strange is that he never cries here. I've seen him fall and hurt himself when his mum is here or elsewhere and he's really dramatic! Once here he was in the crazy coupe in the garden and it toppled over and he just lay there silently - yet he'd really hurt his arm! I find it difficult to understand that a 2 year old can hold back from crying when they're hurt?

11-11-2014, 11:41 AM
I decided to speak with mum about it. She said he can be quiet and he does the whispering thing occasionally at home but not to this extreme and he says please and thank you etc. if they're out. She hasn't really taken him to toddler groups and because of his hours the only group we attend is rhyme time at the library - he enjoys this but no time for talking with others! There is a weekly group starting up for childminders after Christmas which I'll take him to. I said I would do everything I could to make him feel relaxed here and not put any pressure on him to speak. How should I make notes regarding this situation? I want to monitor it to see how things progress. He may be starting pre school next year and school the year after and obviously this could be an issue for those settings too if it continues.

11-11-2014, 01:45 PM
I had a mindee exactly like this and know how frustrating it can be! Does your mindee ever ask questions can I ask? My mindee would want something but be absolutely unable to ask me. I think a lot of it was due to anxieties. In the end I made up laminated cards that she could show me if she wished (pictures of crisps, fruit, drink, puzzles, painting etc). There's something called PECS (pictorial exchange communication system) which might help build up his confidence and security with you but it is a long long process.

19-11-2014, 08:03 PM
Fab, thank you, I'll look that up!

We've had some great days because I've been going to great effort to make sure his interests are catered for! On Monday morning he was perfectly happy and fairly chatty until my afternoon child arrived then he was quiet all afternoon. He also point blank refuses to say thank you to me for anything, he knows it's expected but he just shakes his head at me. His mum tells me he says thank you to waiters etc. when out so it's hard not to take it personally sometimes!

I'm still also stuggling to know where to record all this, given that his Learning Journey is a celebration of his successes and progress. Any ideas please?