View Full Version : Is there a graceful way to bring this up?
07-14-2003, 09:40 AM
My niece does not appear to be "on track" with her development for her age level. She is five years old.
1. She was still in diapers when she was 4 1/2. She still has frequent potty accidents and is not embarrassed by them at all.
2. She only recently gave up her pacifier (and not willingly).
3. She can not write any letters of the alphabet.
4. So far as I can tell she has not acquired any new vocabulary words for quite some time.
Other things are anectdotal; I picked her up from Sunday school one day, and there was a marked difference between her coloring and that of the other children of the same age. She used far fewer colors and had little regard for the actual picture. I babysit two little girls, and always think that the 3-year-old reminds me of my niece, but the 5-year-old is far more mature than my niece.
Teachers have tried to talk to her mother - my best friend - about it. Every time she gets furious that "people are picking on her." And she can't understand why, because "she's such a sweet little girl." She absolutely is a sweet, darling little girl... but she's not progressing with other kids her age. My older niece seems to be fine.
Is there anything I can say? I'm so conflicted, because on the one hand I feel like no one should ever tell someone else how to raise their child. On the other hand, I'm just so concerned that she could be getting help now, and later it could be too late. She'll start kindergarten this fall, and I'm hoping that the school will step in.
07-14-2003, 10:02 AM
It sounds like you have good reason to be concerned. Chances are very good that when the child starts kindergarten that she will either improve rapidly (some children just progress at a different rate than others, and school may do wonders) or she will send up flags that make the teachers and psychologists at the school take notice and do some testing. At this point, your friend will really need your support - it will probably be very hard to hear that her child needs additional assistance. Having a concerned friend who can help her put it in perspective and understand that the school administrators and teachers are not "mean people who don't like her baby girl," but actually want to help her daughter, will be crucial. If you step in now, she may not be willing to hear it and may not turn to you if and when she is confronted by this issue at the school.
Out of curiosity, which school will her daughter attend? I used to work for City of Atlanta public schools when I lived there...
07-14-2003, 10:04 AM
What does your freind tell you about her daughter? If teachers have talked to her and she chooses to do nothing, then there's not much you can do except voice your own opinion. Just tell her that you care about them both and that you are concerned about the child. Ask her to talk with the doctor and hope that she does.
07-14-2003, 10:33 AM
Did the school do a Kindergarten roundup? That will often point out some potential problems and give some specific advice. Do you think that maybe the mom knows there is something wrong but doesn't want to admit it? Kindergarten may help her with some of the concerns.
07-14-2003, 11:06 AM
It's wonderful of you to be concerned about your niece. To me it sounds like there is reason to pay close attention to what happens over the next year, but not yet cause for alarm.
I know a lot of kids whose parents struggled hard to get them to give up a pacifier, thumb, or blankie right up until when kindergarten started. I also know kids who weren't potty-trained until right before kindergarten, and one who had accidents through first grade (though, interestingly, the accidents never occurred at school- only at home). And kids whose vocabulary developed very slowly (in one case this was caused by a hearing loss that was not discovered until the child entered school). All of the above are within the range of normal child development.
This isn't to say "no, there is definitely no problem here" but that it really is possible for her to be a late bloomer. If problems are identified once the child enters kindergarten, then I agree with Rebecca- Mom will need your support and it might be easier to seek it from you if she doesn't feel that you've been "telling her all along"- no matter how gracefully you've voiced your concerns.
07-14-2003, 12:14 PM
I think when the child starts Kindergarten, the teachers will hopefully do their job and approach the parent. Until that time, since you know that the mom isn't receptive, it is best to keep quiet about it. Once the teacher talks about it and the mother (hopefully) mentions it to you, you can then say that you agree with the teacher. I truly never can understand why some parents are so blind to this kind of stuff. I have two children of my own and I seem to be always on the "lookout" for problems. I wholeheartedly agree in catching things early. As soon as I got the first HINT that my son had ADHD we were at the doctor's office for an evaluation. I've seen far too many parents bury their heads in the sand and run into nasty problems when the child is 13 or 14 and all kinds of self esteem issues have set in.
On the other hand, the child could just be very immature developmentally. How much interaction does the mom have with this child. You know, some of these habits (like delayed potty training and late pacifier use) are the direct results of parents coddling their children too much. I also know of one child who never went to pre-K and his parents pretty much sat him in front of the TV all the time. Well, he "failed" Kindergarten. When he started he didn't know his alphabet nor did he really know his colors all that well. This was a result of no interaction with this stuff at home. Do you think that is what is going on?
Also, if the child goes to regular pediatric well-child exams, the pediatrician is supposed to be checking that stuff. I remember when both my kids were preschool age. They had them both doing specific puzzles and drawings as part of the examination.
07-14-2003, 04:01 PM
Originally posted by ChristineVA
How much interaction does the mom have with this child. You know, some of these habits (like delayed potty training and late pacifier use) are the direct results of parents coddling their children too much.See, this is where I feel like I'm playing Amateur Psychologist, but I have wondered if she subconsciously/deliberately kept her dependent. She desperately wanted to have a third child, but needed a hysterectomy. From that point forward, my niece really wasn't encouraged to be independent or age-appropriate (i.e. taking away her pacifier). Mind you she would NEVER intentionally do anything to harm or unhealthily limit her children.
I won't say anything, and y'all have reinforced my decision. It's just so difficult to watch. She doesn't get invited to birthday parties and it hurts her feelings, and so on.
07-14-2003, 09:43 PM
How word-rich is this child's environment? Does she have lots of books available to her at home? Can she go to the library often? Does anyone read to her? Maybe you can help by providing activities that can help her literacy development. She should be able to recognize her own name at this point, with some help. You said you picked her up from Sunday school - can you schedule some special "Aunt Stefania" time with her each week? Can you stop in at a book store, used or new, and buy her some books?
Waiting for the "schools to step in" might help in some areas, but certainly, literacy development is something that needs to also occur at home. Just being exposed toprint can help on some very basic levels: where to start reading, which way to hold a book, which side of the book to start at, text orientation ...
I'm sure there are better-versed people out there, but I've been taking lots of reading/phonics classes lately, and maybe my opinion could help a little.:)
07-15-2003, 07:46 AM
Originally posted by MKSquared
How word-rich is this child's environment? Does she have lots of books available to her at home? Can she go to the library often? Does anyone read to her?She has plenty of books, frequent library visits, and she is definitely read to. Both parents have Masters degrees, and I'm a former elementary school teacher, so the value of reading is well-known in their household. I've tried to spend more time with her, but they live waaaay out in the 'burbs with no easy way to get there.
10-13-2003, 06:03 PM
Gertdog and Christine, you may both be right!
On Saturday night DH and I went up to their house for a family dinner. Just before we got there, my younger niece fell and whacked her head on the hardwood floor - nothing out of the ordinary for an active, adventurous 5-year-old.
To make a long story short, she has a concussion. And while in the emergency room, the pediatrician commented on the scar tissue in her ears (frequent ear infections). Her ballet teacher had also commented about her hearing. Also, now that she has started kindergarten, the teacher has spoken to my friend about possible ADD or some other disorder.
Amen, my niece will be going to specialists for both to see if treatment is necessary. I'm so very, very glad that she's getting some help!
Thanks, everyone -
10-13-2003, 06:19 PM
I'm probably saying what's already been said, but one of my sons had some of these same problems. They stemmed from several years of chronic ear infections. When we finally had the insurance to cover the surgery, we had tubes put in his ears and it helped so much! By this time he was about 3 or 4 and either the pediatrician or ear/nose/throat guy referred us to the public schools. DS was enrolled in Special Ed preschool. He couldn't even understand if someone asked him if he wanted a cookie! He was very frustrated and in a lot of ways reminded me of a little Helen Keller (if you saw the old movie) :eek: . Just couldn't understand and couldn't be understood. He went to that school for about a year and a half, started kindergarten a year after everybody his age, and has done great ever since.
He was also very late with potty training--he would shriek his head off every time we tried to take him in the bathroom, but since he had almost no communication abilities, we didn't know if he was scared about something or what.
I'm surprised the mother doesn't recognize this. I saw it right away with our son, but maybe because he was the younger brother and I'd already seen the general development time frame with the other boys.
I hope she does get help for her. I was skeptical at first of the school, but they were wonderful!! :)
woops, editing to say I didn't realize this was an update :o .
glad to hear she's getting help.
That's great that she is getting the attention needed to find out what may be wrong. I would certainly think that if here hearing is not up to par, it would be much harder for a lot of things to hold her attention. Hope the concussion heals smoothly and that they help her get back on track too.
10-14-2003, 05:55 AM
I can imagine the hearing problem would contribute to the attention problem. My little sister had 80% hearing loss in one ear at birth (20% in the other), and my the time she was 1, chronic ear infections had made it worse. She als ohad chronic bronchitis, and every single time she went in to the ENT to have her tubes put in, they wouldn't do it because she had bronchitis (I remember at least 3 surgeries terminated because of this). By the time she was 7 or so, the infections cleared up on their own. She sucked on a pacifier until she was 5 or 6, She didn't talk at all until she was 4, and had problems with schoolwork when she was younger (she was able to sit very still, but didn't pay attention). She had to go to speech therapy for several years, and I know my parents hated having to put her in the "special" class, but once they did, she improved so much. I don't know how well she hears these days, but I think she hears pretty well (I have fairly significant scarring from ear infections, too----I had far fewer than her, too---but I have no hearing issues). The only real residual effect of her late development/hearing impairment is the fact that she still has problems saying her "Rs". And she doesn't like to read. But she does really well otherwise (good job, lives in Hawaii, married). Hopefully your niece will do as well now that she's getting help!
10-14-2003, 07:04 AM
If she's had chronic ear infections that may explain why she had such a hard time giving up the pacifier. The sucking probably made her ears feel better. Poor kid.
Glad she's getting help.
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