View Full Version : Child attention seeking with his mum? long sorry

27-01-2011, 09:26 AM
Hi all

I am feeling rather low today. I have a lovely little boy (4 years) who I care for 3 days a week and have done for 6 months. He took a little while to settle in and get used to me as he was quite reserved at first, but we were getting on SO well and I was extremely happy with his progress and felt proud of myself and him. He was open with me, trusted me, friendly etc etc. He understood the rules in my house and I rarely had any issues with him.

So for the last 2 weeks he has been getting upset in the morning, scrunching up his face, but not actually crying. Saying to his mum he wants her to pick him up from school and give him tea. I didn't think anything of it as every child goes through a phase or two like this, and I knew that regardless of what he said in the morning or to his mum in the evening, he always has a fantastic time at my house. I give him choices about play, plan around what he enjoys and he is always happy. I know this for sure.

So last night his mum and i had a really long chat. She got upset because I think she is worried about him and feels terribly guilty about having to leave him in the first place. She said he is a sensitive boy and I know she worries because his mum and dad aren't together anymore (though this happened a while ago and he sees his dad regularly). She is such a lovely lady and a good mum and I understand how she feels, but I don't know if she is overthinking it, at the end of the day yes he is going to always prefer it if mummy could always pick him him, and yes he may be sensitive, but he is also just 4, and once she has left he is fine, so perhaps his stress and trauma is more in her head than his - and he knows that too.

I spoke to her for a long time about how he is getting on, his development is great, he's smart, imaginitive, confident. We thought of ideas to make him pleased to come to mine in the morning - her suggestions were more rewards though, having something nice to eat at my house for breakfast (they already have chocolate croissants and things that she brings) or having his favourtie tv show on which is only available at my house, or buying him a special magazine each week to keep at my house. My ideas were things like letting him 'look after' something of mummys that is very important and she will need it when she picks him up later, or something positive like a sticker chart (although I'm not keen on this exactly, but something similar that will show his good behavious and allow him to be proud of it). I think theres a fine line between rewarding good behaviour and bribing!

So first of all I'd like to ask for your input any ideas you have or that have worked at your setting? Or is it just a case of tough love, ignoring him and trusting that he will be OK.

I fully believe that he goes home and tells his mum that he hasnt had a nice time or that I wouldnt give him pudding etc etc. The trouble is that I have about 7 rules in my house which are there for the good of all the children and as you all know I have to be consistent with these. The pudding thing - one of the younger children is not eating properly at dinner time at the moment, now the fact of the matter is he is a toddler and NEEDS vitamins, iron etc etc. If he sees one child leave his dinner and still get pudding of course he will want to do the same. So I have to be consistent with my rules and make sure a good amount of veg etc is eaten before they are allowed a desert (I hate the fact that I sound like my own mum but I know it is for the best, they can't live off pudding!) The trouble being 4 year old will say, 'I don't mind, mummy will give us some at home.' or if I have a rule about jumping off the sofa, 'Mummy lets us'

His mum told me yesterday that in the last two weeks he has said he doesn't like me anymore but he used to. Now I realise I have to stay professional (as I did) and see him as a child who just wants his mums attention (which he knows he will get) but it is also so hard when I have worked so hard to make sure he's happy, and built such a good relationship with him to suddenly feel like its come undone. So I think this needs to be addressed with her too, make her realise that he does behave for me, talk to me and respect me in my home but when she picks him up he calls me names. And I think she needs to work harder in being consistent in her rules and speak to me about what I have said to him, so that if he has been naughty and I have therefore not let him have a treat, she doesnt then go home and give him one anyway. But I know she feels guilty and that will be hard for her.

So really I needed to get that off my chest but also ask for any advice, or your opinion on the matter. Do I need to be frank with her and tell her to just leave in the morning instead of explaining to him that she needs to work and this and that, and wait until he gives her a kiss. Or do we need to do all we can to make him happy when he turns up, eventhough he is 10 minutes later. Maybe we should all 3 of us sit down and ask him what his favourite things at my house are and what would make it better to be here, or is that asking for trouble?! I think he would use it to make out to his mum thats its much worse than it is.

Sorry its such a long post, I'm just getting it all out and thinking aloud too. I hope someone has time to read my ramblings and reply :(

Thanks xxx

27-01-2011, 09:58 AM
Hi ya, try not to worry too much this is perfectly normal behaviour and I know how hard it is! I have had this happen to me with almost all of the children I have cared for since I started minding!! They have a brilliant time with you, are happy all day and when parent collects they tell their parents that they hav had a good day. Then the next day the the child comes upset and has told mum that they didn't want to come today and they do it all for Mum's benefit! They want o stay with mUm and it is totally natural!
I had a parent in the past (after my being reg only 6 months) whos 3 year old boy loved coming, then all of a sudden he didn't want to come anymore but stay with this mum... mum was very very soft with him and dragged the change over time... even stopped for 1 hour once to make sure he was ok!! It made me very stressed as no matter what I said or showed (her pictures/photos of him havinbg fun) it got to the point where she was questioning me what I had done or changed of him to not want to come anymore. In the end she stopped him coming and kept him at home with her as it was "breaking her heart!"
A few months later it happened again with another 3 year old, but me and the parent nipped it in the bud straight away - this was how, .. mum knew why child was behaving this way... yes to get attention, so mum woul djust say "In you go, now be good for S. Give me a hug, bye bye" and she was gone! It worked!
The 3 year old one I am looking after at the moment started getting upset in the mornings a few months ago, I told mum just to kiss her and say bye and go straight away, mum did and it stopped after only a week.

What you have to do it to tell mum to do the same, tell her he is only doing it for her benefit and once he sees that he can't upset her when she goes to work he will stop doing it! ALso bribing is not a good idea, we tried that here and it made it worse, mum tried to get her lo to come if we played the computer all day - when what mum had to do was to toughen up.

If mum can't do that then you will be stuck in a rut!! So fingers crossed he stops soon - its only a phase but it can be an upsetting one for all of us xx

27-01-2011, 10:06 AM
It is so hard when children try to manipulate like this and I always feel awful for them they must be in such turmoil :(

Having said that my 2 still try and manipulate situations between home and their father... and they're teenagers!! :rolleyes:

I think consistency is the key to this one.

Mum should really be making her goodbyes brief, but at the same time it will hurt her very much to go to work leaving him crying, so maybe briefer with a big kiss from her rather than him manipulating the situation by making her wait for his kiss... if you see what I mean.

As Mollymop says bribery is not really the best option. I have found in these situations that verbal praise works equally well.

The food one worries me because by saying 'no' to pudding food is effectively being withheld and that's not something child psychologists say is acceptable.

Current thinking is that children should always be given the option of fruit or a milky pudding to ensure their nutritional needs are met, regardless of amounts of veg etc that are eaten...

I hope this helps and he picks up soon! :D

27-01-2011, 02:22 PM
Yes I have to say I do tend to give them a yoghurt or fruit if they have left some dinner, but I mean if I have a treat such a chocolate or a proper pudding pudding...but when he gets home his mum will give him treats, cookies, etc.

I think you are both right about just keeping it brief and he will hopefully realise he can't get her attention this way.

We shall see how it goes. I have had the same thing with other children but their parents have just left and its worked, but I find it harder to say that to this mum in particular because she is very sensitive and I know how awful she'd feel.

Thanks xx

27-01-2011, 05:25 PM
We shall see how it goes. I have had the same thing with other children but their parents have just left and its worked, but I find it harder to say that to this mum in particular because she is very sensitive and I know how awful she'd feel.

Thanks xx

Could you not say to her that you will text her in half an hour as you are sure he will settle or send her a pic via your mobile or email if you are able to, to actually show he is fine. Just thinking of ways you can reassure her. One of mine goes through phases and can kick off a bit for parents, but they havent even reached the road and he has stopped and I always assure them of this.

27-01-2011, 05:51 PM
definately cut those goodbye drama. it's mum who has to be taught.

as for the pudding it's a difficult one as likeothers said you can't really withdraw food BUT i wouldn't give him a sweet thing! i would give him cheese and cracker!
you need to talk to mum and explain that it's natural, it's not her fault BUT her child is playing the guilt thing big time and it will pass if she stopped to indulge him it's not helping him. working as a team is the answer and if he chose not to eat his lunch he shouldn't be offered treat until dinner time. even at home.

the mother of my first mindee nealy 5 at the time told me while i was looking at her horrified at home time when mindee demanded that her mum put her shoes on for her : "she likes making me feel like a mum :panic: :panic: :panic:

she changed her tune when her little angel smacked her in full face when she couldn't get her way!!!!!:panic: :eek: