Received Monday, April 12, 2010
I have a question. I've been nannying a sweet four and a half year old girl for almost a year now. She's an angel, very imaginative and affectionate. Her parents, however, are severely anxious about everything (I think the kiddo was a preemie, and she's an only child to late-in-life parents) and freak out completely if the little girl is ever alone. Let me be clear, when I say "alone" I mean "in the living room, in clear sight, ten feet from where I'm doing the dishes or setting the table." The child can't look at books by herself, play with her toys by herself, fall asleep by herself...as her nanny I'm expected to interact with her completely every single minute we're together.
I love her and I love being with her, but I feel like she NEEDS some time relying on her own resources. When I was four I had a baby brother and was regularly absent from my parents, by myself in my room, for two or three hours at a time. It made me creative, imaginative and a great storyteller. Am I totally off here, or do kids need some time to themselves? Wouldn't it be good for her to be her own stimulus for fifteen or twenty minutes? And as a nanny, how can I foster that without looking like I'm just trying to slack off?