Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Grandchild's upsetting behavior

My 2.5 year old granddaughter has lived in our home since birth but for a couple of brief times when my 20 year old daughter has left with her because she wasn't willing to abide by simple rules of the house. About a month and a half ago she asked us to keep her for a while and she left with a man and we have limited contact with her. My granddaughter has been exhibiting some strange and very sad behaviors lately and I'm not sure what to make of them.

She will not poop in the potty but she was before now she takes her diaper or panties off and goes on the floor or even outside in the yard. she has always done what we call "hugging herself" but with research I found she is masturbating and this had all but stopped but now has become a very almost constant thing she has episodes most every night where she sobs in her sleep to the point of having to catch her breath but she seldom wakes up.

All of these things have me very concerned please give me some insight help!!!
Erin

Dear Erin:

First of all children masturbating is not uncommon. Children often self soothe in this manner. It is probably more disturbing to you. As for her going to the bathroom on the floor and the yard, yes she has regressed. Something is definitely bothering her. I am not sure what to tell you as she is not your legal responsibility. It would be best if she was assessed by an Infant Mental Health specialist or a Family and Child Therapist to see what is bothering her.

If you can build the relationship with your daughter so you can focus on your granddaughter (sometimes we have to just let those battles slide if we can) then you can build her feeling of safety and calm her down.

Here is what I suggest to most grandparents. Pick your battles wisely with your adult child. Offer to take the baby as much as you can and watch for opportunities to relieve the adult child of the stress of caring for the child. Offer to watch her to give them a break, let them catch up on sleep, or just to go out and have a good time. Then when you have the child focus on the child having a good time, feeling safe and enjoying your wisdom as a grandparent.

You can make such a difference in the life of a grandchild who does not have a stable environment to grow up in on a moment to moment basis building good memories which will sustain them into their own adulthood.

Best Wishes!

M Kay Keller