I am the single mother of a 3 &1/2 year old son. My son has been in daycare since he was 1. He has always loved daycare. In about the last month or 2 I have noticed some big changes in him. He always used to love telling me about his day (he speaks very well), but now when I ask him he only says "it was a good day" or something simple like that and then talks about something else.
He has been acting out a lot as well. He is very moody. He has never been easy to put to sleep, but lately it is rare for him to sleep before midnight! I don't want to create a situtation that may not be there, but I am very concerned with a new teacher (_____) at his daycare. My son has told me that _____ gives him massages at nap time. last week he told me (out of the blue) that he gave ____ a massage. About a week & 1/2 ago my mother piced him up from daycare and the teacher(_____) told my mom that my son had been acting very bad for the past 2 - 3 weeks. He has never said this to me. He tells me all the time that my son is wonderful!
When I asked _______ infront of the director of the daycare (in an unconfrontational manner) he said that my son had just been a little grumpy for the past few days, but he had not seen me to tell me this. However, I had seen ______ and spoke to him every day of that same week? The director also told me that she is not sure why he would say this because my son has always been well behaved there. My son tells me that there is a "scarry secret" that he can't tell me because it is to "scarry". He often talks about a monster that is going to break his toys/ flush him down the toilet/ swallow him, etc. This is not normal!
Nothing has changed in our home situtation. I have mentioned my concerns to the director, but she says that all of the other parents love _____. I have suggested that there may be a another child (a bully) in the class. She said that she willI keep a better watch. I have concedered switching daycares, but I am worried that if I take him away from all of his friends and something is going on, my son will think he has done something wrong! I keep second guessing my gut feeling. I don't know how to deal with this and I think I may be over reacting. I don't know how to ask my son questions without putting things in his head. am I overacting? What should I do?
No, you're not overreacting, you just have concerns. Overreacting would be like jumping to conclusions with no evidence, making accusations, and removing your son from the daycare.
As for your son's mood changes, he could just be adjusting to the new teacher, going through a growth spurt, being bullied by another kid, etc. But don't ignore your concern about this teacher if there's something about him that's rubbing you the wrong way (personally, I think it's a bit odd that a male is a primary caregiver at a toddler daycare. There's nothing wrong with that, and I may sound old-fashioned and sexist, but to me, a male caregiver or teacher for *preschool* children is just weird).
Does your son have issues with going to daycare now, or is he still just as content as always to go?
Anyway, the first thing I'd do is make a trip to your son's daycare while he's there (perhaps when naptime is scheduled), and watch him and the teacher through the window without them knowing you're there. See just what these "massages" are: just a back rub or head stroking, or are things actually inappropriate? Does the teacher only massage you son and no one else, even if the massages are not inappropiate? If he's singling out your son, that in itself is inappropriate in my book. But if you find nothing of significance during naptime, go back again to observe the next day at a different time. See if there's a bully picking on him.
As for the "scary secret," kids that age begin developing vivid imagination. Is he watching some mildly scray movies or tv, even if they don't seem scary? (I ask this because your son's description of a monster has things in common with the movie "Monsters, Inc."). But if you think there's more to this "secret" than just imagination, your son needs to know he can trust you with his secret. So talk around it with him and try to get him to explain further. For example, start by telling him one of your secrets, like one time you ate a cookie before dinner when you were a kid and got away with it. Tell him you trust him not to tell his grandma! Now, does he have any secrets he wants to tell you? (Don't bring up the scary one, just let him pick and choose. He'll get to it if it's bothering him). If he brings up the Monster, ask him to describe it, if it has a name, where did it come from, when does it try to come after him? You won't be putting stuff in his head if you ask him very basic questions and don't lead his imagination in this direction or that. Just ask him to *describe* and tell you what he knows. Let him know that he can trust you, and that you will protect him. But don't push him to tell you anything all at once if he's uncomfortable--take your time, and eventually he will tell you if something is really wrong.
Good luck, and keep us updated!
Well, I think you have gotten some good advice from AJH84, I just wanted to add a little something. If you have a gut feeling, I don't think it would necessarily be overreacting to put your son into a different daycare. I understand the difficulty of separating him from his friends and routine, but, at some point, you just have to trust your feeling.
If the situation is really as unusual as it sounds and it just feels wrong to you, then you might want to just put him into a new place, maybe one that has internet cameras on the kids while they are there. Then you can know that, if something was really wrong, it's over. You should still look into his new behavior and if something was happening, he may need help with that.
I owned and operated my own home childcare for over 6 years. THIS IS NOT A GOOD SIGN. First I would ask you this... What does your gut instinct tell you? If I felt even an 'incling" of discomfort where my children are concerned I would yank them out IMMEDIATELY and ask questions later.
Your child should not be acting this way for no reason. However; I would not jump to any conclusions without a thorough investigation of your own. You certainly would not want to accuse someone of child abuse unless you were absolutely 100% certain. I would ask to see the director of the center and discuss with him/her. I would also ask to be sure that they do background checks on all their employees(although this is not a guarantee in any way in my book).
If you feel that you are not getting anything from that I would go straight to the state agency that issued the daycare license and request an investigation be made by them. Every state has reports on every daycare center they license. If they are not licensed I would not put him back there and I would report them.
Start by carefully talking to your son to draw more information out of him, and see what you get from that. Ask him to show you how he gets a massage, or ask him to show you how he massages so&so.
Also, the previous poster suggested stopping by and seeing what goes on. This in itself will tell you alot, whether you make yourself known or not.
Everyone has given you good advice. There are two things that you brought up that would concern me very much as a parent, one, the care giver gave your son a massage at nap time, and then your son said he gave the care giver a massage as well. The other concern is the fear your son has a fear of the "scary secret" monster that will take his toys or flush him down the toilet. Child molesters frequently tell the child something bad will happen to them if they tell anyone.
Go with your gut, move him and have the child care giver investigated. After moving and getting used to a new preschool your son may open up and talk about the "scary secret" because the threat of bad things happening will most likely go away when the change of schools occurs.
Good luck and hope all is just something over nothing, but as parents in today's world we have to be careful and go with our gut, political rethinking has always failed me in the past.
Like everyone else said, go with your instinct. I used to work in a daycare and I would rub some of the kids' backs to help them get to sleep...that, to me, is normal. What is not normal is the child "massaging" the teacher. I would be concerned as well. It may be nothing more than your son going through a phase (and I pray it is) or these may be signs of abuse. Definitely check it out. It's always better to be safe than sorry.
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