Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Stressed Out Toddlers

I hate Parent Teacher meetings. I hate them when I'm the teacher and I have to share concerns with parents. It is always difficult to share something I am seeing in the classroom with one or two people who aren't in the same environment with us. Some parents want to work with me. Others think I am insane. "Not my Tommy (or Julie)!"

Tuesday, I realized I hate Parent Teacher meetings when I'm the parent, too. No parent wants to hear that their child is a biter, a hitter, or suddenly wakes up crying hysterically from a nap. Imagine getting that times two! Only, for us, it is much worse than just the normal growing pains of being 21 months old.

Teacher Joanne thinks Gracie and Luke are stressed out.

My initial reactions was "What?!" Who's ever heard of toddlers being stressed out? What do they have to be anxious or stressed over? They get hugs and kisses, all the crackers they can eat, bubbles in the bath tub, tons of toys to play with, Mommy to snuggle with at night and to hold them when they are scared, Grandpa, Tio Martin, Tio Freddy, Tio Joey, and Daddy to play with them inside, outside, on the slide, Grandma to make them sopita and teach them fun new words, friends at day care, trips to the park, Barney in the morning, Barney at night, Barney in the car. I'm thinking that sounds pretty stinking fantastic to me! Where are the stressors?

Teacher Joanne went on to tell us about how Lukie wakes up screaming from naps. That never happens at home. I don't know why he does that there. She told us that he is inconsolable and will cry for me "Momma! Momma! Momma!" over and over for 30 minutes or more (Please, stab me in the heart one more time. I don't think you got me the first time). He will fling himself on the floor and cry and cry. There is no stopping him until he is ready to stop.

He's not the only one who she thinks is stressed out.

She is concerned that while Luke's emotions are over the top, Gracie's emotions are suppressed. Teacher Joanne shared with us that Gracie will try to console Lukie, petting his head, saying "Shh, shh" like I do, and when that doesn't work, she will cry out in solidarity, and then walk away when she can't help. She said that she sees Gracie wanting to share her emotions, but will hide them away so that Lukie can get the attention he needs. She worries that Gracie will continue like this and get sick from not letting out her worries/anger/fears.

You have no idea how devastating it is to have someone tell you that your toddlers need professional help. I'm at a loss. I'm not sure how to proceed.

Because here's the kicker: All these behaviors she sees at day care? We NEVER see them at home. Sure, Lukie cries when he doesn't get his way, but it's a fake cry with no tears. Distract him and it goes away. Sure, Gracie will try to console Lukie. We hug her, too and tell her Mommy/Daddy is there and everything will be okay. The waking up screaming? Never happens here. The crying for 30 minutes? Never happens here. Gracie hiding her emotions. Nope. Never happens here. In fact, she usually falls to the ground and cries when she doesn't get what she wants. Sometimes she bites, hits, or runs away, but she always expresses her frustration somehow.

Our family has been through a lot in the past 7 months. When I think of all of it and how stressed out I am from the long, frustrating list, I can understand that my emotions and exhaustion might be too much for Gracie and Luke. In fact, since Tuesday, I've been watching everything I say and do with them. But how can Teacher Joanne be sure that they themselves are "stressed out."

She suggested that I contact a therapist who does "play therapy" with children. She believes that Luke and Gracie need an outlet for their stress and play therapy might be able to help them. She thinks they are in a place where they are definitely showing some normal behaviors, but she is very concerned about the other behaviors she is seeing.

As a Mom, and a free thinking person, I'm stuck.

Honestly, I think she's off her head. I think they are two little kids whose Mommy and Daddy leave them at day care 4 days a week and they'd much rather be at home with people they know and love than at a stinkin' day care (no matter how nice it is). I think they are 21 months old and are learning that their world is bigger than they originally thought and they have little to no control over it. I think there is something else going on there that Lukie doesn't like and that is why he behaves so emotionally at day care and not at home.

But, then again, I'm their Mommy. As their Mommy, I don't want to fail them in any way. If they truly do need help, I want to get it for them. I'd do anything for them. Anything. Even if it means that I have to suck it up and call a therapist for my 21 month olds.

So, sometime next week, I am going to call my medical insurance representative and see how we go about this. How we go about getting mental health appointments for my babies. To see if we can destress them.

2 comments:

  1. Jen, I honestly do not know what to say. I have never had to deal with a child in daycare to know what is normal, and what is not. I do know that trying to comfort a sibling is normal for any child once they start reaching around the age of two. I hope that some of the other twin moms that have experianced Daycare have something that may help you!

    Maybe you should talk to your Peds. and see if they think its out of the normal behavor?

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  2. Poor stressed out Twinsies! I hope you get some helpful answers from the insurance company and I hope this doesn't turn into anything more than a little strange behavior while away from their sweet momma!

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